Unlikely alliance between Israel and Azerbaijan raises heat over Iran
31 Mar, 2012 02:00 AM
ISRAEL has secured access to airbases on Iran's northern border through its defence alliance with Azerbaijan, US officials say, adding to a series of explosive reports of Israel's covert hostilities against Iran.
A report in Foreign Policy magazine quoted a senior US administration official as saying: ''The Israelis have bought an airfield … and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.''
Sources in the Israeli government insist they know nothing of the alleged strategic acquisition and question the veracity of the report, saying it is based exclusively on unnamed US officials and two independent think tank reports unaffiliated with any notable institutions.
However, one senior Israeli official suggested that Iran's outrage at its neighbour's burgeoning relationship with the Jewish state may actually be pushing the unlikely allies closer together.
'The more pressure applied by Iran, the more they unveil plots to carry out terror attacks on Azerbaijani embassies, the more they [Azeris] are co-operating with us,'' the official said.
"Iran's fear that its considerable Azeri minority may have aspirations for independence is the current bed of its relations with Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan is very interested in firming up its relationship with Israel.''
Last month, Israel confirmed the sale of drones and anti-aircraft missile defence systems to the former Soviet state in a $US1.6 billion ($1.54 billion) arms deal. [link]