Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict: How Israel and Turkey are Cooperating with Each Other
Even more unusual is the strange coupling of Turkey and Israel, which are hostile to one another both diplomatically and in terms of security.
The Caucasus war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region creates strange bedfellows and leaves sectarian considerations at the door.
Though Azerbaijan is predominantly Shia, Christian Armenia is favored by Shia Iran, a third of whose population is of Azeri descent, including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Even more unusual is the strange coupling of Turkey and Israel, which are hostile to one another both diplomatically, and in terms of security. Yet both states, dominated by their Sunni and Jewish communities respectively, support and arm Azerbaijan.
During the current conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, where 300 uniformed troops and civilians on both sides have been killed so far, Israel has increased its military assistance to Azerbaijan.
At least four Ilyushin Il-76 planes, operated by the Azerbaijani cargo airline Silk Way, which serves Baku’s defense ministry, have landed and taken off from the Israeli Uvda military airbase in southern Israel. According to flight regulations, it is the sole airport from which planes loaded with explosives can take off.
The Silk Way fleet flew directly from Baku to Uvda and back, according to its flight path documented on various websites that monitor air traffic. Some of these planes have also flown from Baku to Ankara and Istanbul and back over the last two weeks.
Since 1957, Israel and Turkey have developed secret but close relations and became strategic allies coordinating with American and British interests. Their common enemies were first Egypt (until the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty), Syria, and later, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Israeli intelligence community – Mossad and the military intelligence – developed very intimate ties with the Turkish MIT agency and Ankara’s military. Israel had a listening post in Turkey, and the two sides worked hand in hand to spy on their common enemy Syria. Occasionally, Turkey was assisted by Mossad in the battle against Turkish Kurds.
Over the years, chiefly in the 1980s and 1990s, Israel’s defense industries sold arms to Turkey, including intelligence equipment, missiles avionics, and upgraded tanks and planes. The overall volume of the deals was nearly $10bn.
This shift in strategy included severing Turkey’s military and intelligence cooperation with Israel, though trade and touristic ties continue to flourish.
Searching for a new market for its military armaments and a new Muslim ally in the region, Israel found Azerbaijan.
Since 2010, the two countries have formed a strategic alliance, backed by the US, against their mutual foe Iran.
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