Circumventing Iran? Try Azerbaijan

Cheap oil and an embassy in Israel from a Muslim country on Iran’s border – these are the tangible benefits that Israeli and American Jewish officials hope to soon realize after a decade of efforts to develop ties with Azerbaijan.

Potential for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which as of last week started carrying oil from Azerbaijan‘s capital on the Caspian Sea through Georgia to Turkey‘s Mediterranean coast, is not limited to the billions of dollars it is expected to bring Azerbaijan each year. Also involved is the possibility of forging a new economic and diplomatic alliance arcing through Southwest Asia that bypasses Russia and Iran.

This may, in fact, already be working to Israel‘s benefit. In Baku on Thursday, at the 12th annual international exhibit of Caspian Oil, Gas, Oil Refining and Petrochemistry, Azerbaijan‘s President Ilham Aliyev met with India‘s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Mani Shankar Aiyar. According to a press release from the Indian ministry, Aiyar conveyed to Aliyev India’s ‘deep interest in expanding bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sector… specifically referring to the possibility of purchase by India of Azerbaijani oil transported to Ceyhan by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and then brought to the Red Sea through the Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline in Israel.’

Interests in Azerbaijan for Israel and American Jewish groups include ties to the 20,000 Jews who live there in relative peace, and the possibility of allying with a country that is 93 percent Muslim.

For Azerbaijan as well, the attraction of a relationship with the Jewish state and with the Jewish lobby is strong. Israel was one of the first countries to establish an embassy in Azerbaijan after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.  Jewish sources told The Jerusalem Post that the establishment of an embassy in Israel could be forthcoming soon.

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  1. […] has quietly but steadily invested in relations with Azerbaijan (see this article) and Georgia over the past decade; for various reasons, its dealings with Turkey have had a […]

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