Netanyahu’s visit to Azerbaijan sparks concern in Tehran

Iran is concerned about Israel’s budding ties with neighboring Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic two-day state visit to Muslim-majority Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to advance Israel’s diplomatic relations has sparked concern and ire in Tehran.

Iranian Parliamentary Director-General for International Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian voiced concern on Sunday over the visit, Iran’s Mehr news reported

Amir-Abdollahian, who is also the Secretary General of International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada, regarded the visit as “the beginning of a new intrigue in the region.”

He spoke of Netanyahu’s “interventionist remarks” and Israel’s allegedly provocative diplomatic overtures aimed “to add fuel to the fire and light the flames of animosity in Central Asia and the Caucasus.”

On Tuesday, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev welcomed Netanyahu to Baku and expressed enthusiasm about enhancing cooperation between his country and Israel, noting that Azerbaijan had already purchased close to $5 billion worth of defense equipment from the Jewish state.

“I’ll just bring you one figure just to illustrate how broad this cooperation is: So far the contracts between Azerbaijani and Israeli companies with respect to purchasing of defense equipment are close to five billion dollars. More precisely – $4,850,000,000. The biggest part of these contracts have already been executed, and still we are continuing to work on that and we are very satisfied with the level of this cooperation,” Aliyev affirmed.

The relations between Iran and Azerbaijan deteriorated in 2012 when three men were detained by the Azeri Ministry of National Security for planning to attack Israelis employed by a Jewish school in Baku. Security officials in Baku linked Iran to the planned terror operation.

Iranian-Azeri relations declined further after Azeri Communication Minister Ali Abbasov accused Iran of carrying out cyber attacks against his country.

However, with the advent of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran in late 2013, relations between the two neighboring countries have gradually but significantly improved.

Iran may perceive Israel’s arming of Azerbaijan as a threat.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News