Authors: Fatih İlker Yigit and Sadik Oncu*
In the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is one of the places of conflict where tension has always been high, a great armed conflict has begun between Armenia and Azerbaijan towards the end of September. From a historical point of view, the struggle for dominance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been an ongoing and unsolved problem since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The attractiveness of the region has increased and global and regional powers play an active role in this war due to the strategic importance of the location of the region such as it’s an energy route and provides significant advantages against Turkey and Iran, which are the important countries on the region.
While the pandemic continued globally, it caused record declines in the economy of the countries during this period. While political governments focused mostly on their domestic issues and the uncertainty in the Presidential Elections of the United States provided great opportunities for Azerbaijan. Since the beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war, it is seen that Russia and the US have not exerted significant pressure on Azerbaijan. The main reason for Russia’s unresponsiveness is the desire to punish Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s pro-NATO and pro-Western stance.
Why is Israel on the front burner?
This war has shown that the striking power of Azerbaijan in the field consists of the Turkish and Israeli AUAV and UAV drones. It is noteworthy that Israeli weapons play an active role in this war and that new shipments continue while the war continues. In fact, according to the report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Azerbaijan was one of the biggest buyers of Israeli weapons between 2015-19, with a ratio of 17%
While Syria’s drift into chaos due to the civil war provides Israel with great advantages, the rise of Iran’s dominance in the region and the missile attacks from the north limit Israel’s influence and pose a threat. “Nationalism” will be the biggest trump card of Israel while trying to establish strategic superiority over Iran by giving Azerbaijan strong support in the war. According to the United Nations, more than 30 million Iranian Turks live in Iran, and Israel will have the opportunity to influence this population through Azerbaijan. The next step for Iranian Turks living under pressure is the possibility of joining Azerbaijan. With the win-win model, another missing piece for the GMEP will be completed. The message sent from Tel Aviv to Tehran is very clear:
“Syria is my backyard, and I will be in Azerbaijan, your backyard.”
It will be useful to mention the spiritual side of Azerbaijan-Israel relations. Since its establishment, Israel has been defined as a safe haven for Jews across the world and the only Jewish state. It is an important mission to find the descendants of ‘Jacob’s sons’ all over the world through the family tree and gene maps and bring them to Israel. Most recently, parliament had approved for 2021 to bring the members of the Jewish community in Ethiopia to Israel. On the other hand, for Israel, the Khazar Turks is an issue with deep-rooted spiritual dimensions.
According to the report of the US Energy Information Administration, in the future, the Caspian region will be an important region that dominates the energy market. First class oil quality and high reserve capacity are proof of the strategic importance of the Caspian region. The fact that a majority of the energy supplier Middle Eastern countries are Arab countries is a major concern for Israel. Being deprived of energy due to possible conflict and tension might hit the Israeli economy. In terms of energy resources, Azerbaijan is the main supplier. Azerbaijan meets 40% of Israel’s energy needs.
When the Azerbaijan-Armenia war started, Israel clearly declared its side from the very beginning. A strong Azerbaijan in the region against Iran, which is defined as its biggest enemy, will be a Caspian-centered strategic move for Israel.
*Sadik Oncu: He is currently working in the private sector as a Jr. Fund Specialist. His research interests are political economy and international relations.