Despite the recent horrific attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, which killed an Azerbaijani security guard, Azerbaijan’s relations with Israel are expanding.
This is because Azerbaijan is a natural strategic ally of the State of Israel and shares our most important values. As a result, Azerbaijan provides 40% of Israel’s oil supply and greatly assists Israel on security issues. Both Israel and Azerbaijan have a common foe—the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is doing everything in its power to harm both Israel and Azerbaijan.
For this reason, no matter what terror attacks the Iranians commit, Azerbaijani-Israeli relations will continue to grow stronger. As Azerbaijan’s Presidential Advisor Hikmet Aliyev declared, “The opening of Azerbaijan’s embassy in Israel will boost further our cooperation.”
The Azerbaijanis understand who is their friend and who is their enemy. They know that while Israel provided Azerbaijan with critical military and humanitarian aid during Azerbaijan’s 2020 Patriotic War, Azerbaijanis living in Tabriz are denied the right to speak their mother tongue. They know that Iran is behind not only the attack on their embassy in Tehran but also a previous attack on their embassy in London. They know that Azerbaijanis in Iran are systematically oppressed and that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism that has attacked other embassies in the past. The Azerbaijanis, however, will never surrender to the mullahs’ terrorism and give up their relationship with Israel.
Right before the attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, Azerbaijan appointed its first-ever ambassador to Israel, Mukhtar Mammadov, a veteran official who has held prominent posts in the education and foreign ministries in the past. The appointment of an Azerbaijani ambassador in Tel Aviv comes after 30 years of strong diplomatic relations that began when Azerbaijan broke off from the Soviet Union and declared independence.
The only reason an embassy was not opened sooner was Baku’s concerns about the Iranian response. But after Iran held drills along the Azerbaijani border and engaged in other threatening actions, Azerbaijan decided to stop worrying about the Iranian threat and do what should have been done years ago.
Azerbaijanis across the spectrum are happy about the opening of an embassy in Tel Aviv. Recently, a group of 19 Azerbaijani MPs sent a letter to 30 Knesset members, declaring, “The Azerbaijani people appreciate and will never forget Israel’s support for Azerbaijan’s just position in the 44-day People’s War. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about Azerbaijan’s victory in the war, its strength in regional politics, the military sphere and the economy, as well as at the international level. Some countries envy it. The recent toughening of anti-Azerbaijan rhetoric in the Islamic Republic of Iran alongside the military drills on Iran’s border with Azerbaijan clearly demonstrate this, revealing Iran’s true nature.”
According to the MPs, “Azerbaijan has never been afraid of the threats it received and has always been able to respond to them appropriately. We are delighted and encouraged to receive your messages of support amid the ongoing provocations and increasing threats against Azerbaijan, and for this, we express our gratitude and Azerbaijan’s decision to open an embassy in Israel.”
“We take advantage of this opportunity to invite you to Azerbaijan and are confident that your visit will constitute a significant incentive to broaden our interparliamentary ties, to deepen Azerbaijan-Israel relations and the strategic partnership based on mutual trust and support,” the letter added.
It also noted, “The Jewish community lives in brotherhood, peace and friendship in Azerbaijan, where religious equality, tolerance and intercultural values are considered a way of life. The Jewish citizens of Azerbaijan are active participants in our country’s social, political and cultural life, and contribute to the development of Azerbaijan.”
A group of Israeli Knesset members also sent a letter to the Azerbaijani parliament, stating, “We thank you most graciously for your letter of congratulations with the respect to the establishment of an embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Israel. The opening of an embassy in Israel signifies the commencement of a new phase in our bilateral relations, and constitutes living testimony to our cooperation which is taking place at a new level.”
“Israel was one of the first states to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence,” the letter continued. “Azerbaijan and Israel share a similar position with respect to the processes developing in the region and on a global scale, and show mutual support in everything regarding a solution to the problems facing our countries. The residents of Azerbaijan highly appreciate and will never forget Israel’s ongoing and consistent support for Azerbaijan’s honorable standing during the 44-day Patriotic War.”
Despite the horrific attack upon the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, which is a clear violation of international law, I expect that Azerbaijan’s relationship with the State of Israel will only grow stronger. After the attack on the Azerbaijani embassy, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a phone conversation with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov, proclaiming that he is “satisfied with the current relationship between the countries. Azerbaijan-Israel ties are based on friendship and mutual trust.”
This relationship will only grow stronger in the face of Iranian threats.
Ayoob Kara served as Israel’s minister of communications.