Azeri ambassador: We won't allow "Israel" to attack Iran from our base
Speaking to Haaretz, an Israeli daily, the ambassador stressed that Baku's relations with "Tel Aviv" won't prompt it to attack Iran.
After 30 years and despite close economic and military ties, Azerbaijan and "Israel" established diplomatic ties, with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev deciding last month to open an embassy in "Tel Aviv."
Although incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced that Azerbaijan was the "first Shiite state" to announce the opening of an embassy in "Israel," the Azeri ambassador to the United States, Khazar Ibrahim, stressed that the diplomatic relations have nothing to do with the predominant religion of the country.
Acknowledging the criticism Azerbaijan received from countries for the normalization, including Iran and Armenia, Ibrahim affirmed that the decision to establish these ties "have nothing to do with any country, including Iran."
Commenting on the location of the embassy, "We never saw any bad feeling about opening it in one city rather than in another one. Having it in Tel Aviv will definitely contribute to our relations.”
Azerbaijan and "Israel" have strong military and economic relations: In a report in 2021 published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), "Israel" accounted for 69% of Azerbaijan's total arms imports from 2016 to 2020. It's worth noting that the increase in arms sales took place during the escalation of the bloody conflict between Baku and Yerevan in Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, "Israel" imports about 40% of its oil from Azerbaijan.
The ambassador reiterated that Baku is a producer of weapons, but would not use the weapons against another country and that the weapons are strictly defensive.
The ambassador said that bilateral relations with "Israel" does not necessarily entail that Azerbaijan would side with "Israel" on United Nations votes or in international forums.
Haaretz brought up speculations that "Israel" would use airbases in Azerbaijan to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, which Ibrahim strongly rejected. He stressed that Baku would never allow "Israel" to act from its territory against its neighbor.
“Never will Azerbaijanis be used against any other country. Probably there is someone who wants to spoil the relations between Azerbaijan and its allies, but that will never be the case," Ibrahimi said, saying he would not destroy Azerbaijan's reputation for Israeli interests.
“Azerbaijan is a very reliable international partner. It has very good relations with any country that wishes to have good relations,” he says. “I should underline that it has nothing to do with just one country. We are very proud that we do not have any foreign military bases on our soil.”
Last month, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassador of the Azerbaijan Republic to Tehran, expressing its strong protest over top Azeri officials' "unfriendly remarks" and the country’s media campaign against Iran, calling for an immediate end to such actions and for acting toward the prevention of their repetition.
In response, the Azeri ambassador voiced his regret over the situation and promised to convey Iran's protest to the authorities in Baku.
Last year, the relation between the two countries had improved after the two countries quarreled over what he described as the unauthorized cargo coming from Iran to Nagorno Karabakh and Baku's apparent "rapprochement" with "Israel."
Iran accused Azerbaijan of providing a base of intel operations for "Israel." Tehran accused "Tel Aviv" of exploiting the Karabakh conflict to gain access to Iran's borders via Azerbaijan, while also attempting to inflame tensions between Baku and Tehran.