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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Azerbaijan’

Iranian Assassins Targeted U.S., Israeli, Saudi Diplomats

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Iran has used operatives in assassination attempts on Israeli and American diplomats in seven countries over a period of 13 months, the Washington Post reported.

Last November, the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan received a message that then Ambassador Matthew Bryza was the target of a plot to kill Americans, along with other embassy officials.

U.S. and Azerbaijani intelligence agencies increased their investigations, which revealed a two-pronged plot, one involving snipers with silencer-equipped rifles and the other a car bomb, intended to kill embassy employees and their families.

Azerbaijani authorities picked up 22 suspects early this year. It is still not known for certain who was behind the plots, but U.S. and Middle Eastern experts see them as part of a campaign by Iran to kill foreign diplomats.

The targets included Saudi, Israeli and American officials.

JTA noted that Israel Aerospace Industries, a state-run company, signed a $1.6 billion deal in February to sell sophisticated military technology to Azerbaijan.

Also in March, Azerbaijan officials denied a claim in Foreign Policy Magazine that Israel was granted access to several airbases in the Caucasus nation, located on Iran’s northern border.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Israeli Foreign Minister Visits Muslim Azerbaijan, Chabad House

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Israel marked twenty years of diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan on Sunday, with a visit to the 95% Muslim country by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also visited the capital city’s Chabad house, according to a report by Lubavitch.com.

Azerbaijan, which borders Iran to the south, has pursued increasingly warm relations with the Jewish state, in contradiction to the will of Tehran.  In January, Azeri authorities arrested an Iranian national who allegedly plotted to kill two Israeli Chabad emissaries working at the Chabad Ohr Avner Jewish School in the capital city of Baku, including the Chief Chabad Emissary of Azerbaijan, Rabbi Shneor Segal.  The Chabad complex, “overlooking the scenic Caspian Sea”, according to Lubavitch.com, was established by philanthropist and President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS and Baltic Countries, Lev Leviev, in 2010.

Rabbi Segal played in an integral role in arranging Foreign Minister Lieberman’s visit.  During his two-day stay, Lieberman met with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and other high-ranking officials, as well as Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan,  Michael Lotem and Israeli Consul Ron Schechter.

Malkah Fleisher

‘Targeted Assassination’ by the U.S. Security Establishment?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

When President Obama wants to impress Jewish audiences, such as AIPAC, he frequently casts U.S.-Israel relations in a military context. How much military aid Israel receives (although he had nothing to do with the level; President Bush set the level in a 10-year deal), how many exercises the two militaries do together (the last one was canceled; previous ones were on a regular multi-year schedule); provision of the X-Band radar to Israel (done single-handedly by now-Sen. Mark Kirk during the Bush Administration) and missile defense cooperation (for which the Administration has reduced its financial request for 2013). Intelligence cooperation is assumed. “I’ve got Israel’s back,” he says.

But how good is the Obama administration on security for Israel? And how does that impact upon American security interests in the Middle East and Southwest Asia?

There have been a series of media reports recently suggesting that intelligence cooperation has been reduced, in part because of a “trust gap” that developed when Israel became concerned that the U.S. did not share Israel’s sense of urgency on Iran. A visit to Israel by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Donilon’s subsequent report to Capitol Hill did not help. Testimony by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called Israel’s strategic security choices “imprudent” – a line repeated and expanded upon by other American military officers, both active and retired.

Last week, a Foreign Policy article by Mark Perry shows American military intelligence officials and diplomats being snide, cutting, and condescending – both toward Israel and toward Azerbaijan, a country that sits on Iran’s border and has its own serious problems with the Iranian style of radicalism exported to it.

Perry makes several points, each of which, if your assumption was that the President stands behind Israel, raises eyebrows:

1. Israeli military cooperation with Azerbaijan “complicates U.S. efforts to dampen Israeli-Iranian tensions.” When did “dampening tensions” become the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran? The President did not say he wanted to “dampen tensions”; he said a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to the United States. But if lowering the volume were the goal, there were two ways to go about it – one by reassuring Israel, the other by reassuring Iran. Exposing Israeli defense choices and publicly mocking its capabilities (see below) just reassures Iran. Why would this be the Administration’s choice?

2. Israeli-Azeri cooperation requires that U.S. military planners “must now plan not only for a war scenario that includes the Persian Gulf – but one that could include the Caucasus. What is true for American military planners is equally true for the Iranians – and there is something to be said for making your adversary worry that there is more than one avenue of attack. Through America’s obvious irritation with Israel and the exposure of Israeli assets in a third country, the administration is choosing to provide Iran with information it can use, to the detriment of Israel. Why would this be the Administration’s choice?

3. The US finds surveillance of both our adversaries and our friends irritating. “We’re watching what Iran does closely… but we are now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we are not happy about it.” How Iran must appreciate the conflation of the two countries: an Israel that makes its patron America unhappy is a country that can be harassed, boycotted, and delegitimized with less fear of an American response than a country that believes its patron is also its friend – a friend that “has its back.” Why would the Administration want to give Iran this impression?

4. The Iranians do not have to worry about Israel’s refueling capability, which was described as “pretty minimal.” Israel is also, according to “military planners”, “just not very good at it.” That is true mainly because Israel’s enemies are so close, but if the U.S. can quash Israeli-Azeri military cooperation, the Iranians will not have much to fear from an Israeli air strike. Why would the administration want to reassure the Iranians on this point?

5. Turkey’s irritation with the Israeli-Azeri relationship has the ear of American “senior officials.” The Turkish government threw over a long and bilaterally beneficial relationship with Israel to polish its pro-Arab and pro-Islamist bona fides. Its Prime Minister is a booster of Hamas, does big business with Iran, and has offered up a blood libel against the IDF. Turkey also has plans for regional hegemony in Central Asia, hence its irritation with Azerbaijan for daring to have a relationship with Israel. It is unclear from the article how the U.S. government responds to Turkey’s concerns, but PM Erdogan appears to be President Obama’s “go to guy” in the region and the President was fawning over him in Seoul last week. Does this suggest an answer at Israel’s expense?

6. Azerbaijan is not a sovereign country; it is simply a puppet of whoever comes with the money. “The Israelis have bought an airfield, and the airfield is called Azerbaijan,” according to a “senior administration official.” Iran and Azerbaijan have serious border and ethnic issues, and it is much to Iran’s benefit to find that the U.S. does not think much of its northern neighbor. While Azerbaijan is certainly not a paragon of democracy, neither should it be the object of derision because it turns to Israel for support. The U.S. is supporting a wide variety of less-than-adorable governments, including the one in Afghanistan – which we are supporting with American blood. Why are Israel’s limited choices for alliances ridiculed, while the administration insists that Hamid Karzai – and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin for that matter – are legitimate rulers because the President wants to work with them?

Shoshana Bryen

Iranian, Tajik, Pakistani, Afghan Presidents to Meet in Tajikistan

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

The Iranian Mehr news agency reports that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe on Saturday to attend the ancient Persian New Year (Noruz) festivities, which are being held on Sunday.

The occasion is celebrated in Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, India, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan.

The presidents of Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan will attend a trilateral summit in Dushanbe on Sunday. In addition, the three presidents will hold a joint meeting with the Pakistani president on the same day to discuss issues facing Afghanistan.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Azerbaijan Arrests 22 in Iran Terror Plot

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The Azerbaijani National Security Ministry announced that 22 people have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Iran, AFP reported Wednesday.

“Twenty-two citizens of Azerbaijan were arrested by the National Security Ministry for cooperating with the Iranian Sepah [the Iranian Revolutionary Guards],” the Ministry said, according to AFP. “Firearms, cartridges, explosives and espionage equipment were found during the arrest.”

The 22 individuals were allegedly instructed to “commit terrorist acts against the US, Israeli and other Western states’ embassies and the embassies’ employees.”

Azerbaijani authorities did not clarify if these were new arrests – since Azerbaijani authorities did not release the date of the arrests – or confirmation of earlier arrests made in February.

Situated between Europe and Asia, and with Iran straddling its southern border, Azerbaijan has recently become a strategic front in a war of subterfuge between Israel and Iran, with reports that both have activated intelligence operatives in this the largest country in the Caucasus region.

Arrests come amid attempts to patch up Iran-Azeri relations

The announcement of the arrests came a day after Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev met with senior Iranian officials in an effort to prevent a further deterioration in relations with Iran due to Azerbaijan’s recent crackdown on Iran-linked terror plots, and its burgeoning ties with Israel.

Iran has grown increasingly nervous since it’s northern neighbor signed a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Israel last month, whereby Israel will supply Azerbaijan with drones and missile defense systems.

“We will not allow Azerbaijan’s soil to be used against Iran under any conditions,” Abiyev pledged after meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ahmad Vahidi in Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that “[w]e are sure that we will face no problem from our brother and neighbor Azerbaijan.”

Coming on the heels of these magnanimous proclamations, the arrests are likely to inflame tensions and nullify any good will the high-level meetings may have fostered between the two countries.

Jewish Press Staff Writer

Azerbaijan Arrests Iranian Terror Cell

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Azerbaijan’s security agency said Tuesday it arrested a suspected terrorist group working for Iran. This is the second such claim this year, as tensions between the two countries are rising.

The National Security Ministry said on Azerbaijan’s state TV that it had arrested an unspecified number of people for preparing terror attacks against foreign citizens, on Iran’s orders.

The pro-Iranian cell was gathering intelligence and acquiring a large stash of weapons and explosives, the ministry said.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Israeli Intelligence Monitoring Iran from Azerbaijan

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Today’s London Times published an interview with a man who claims to be an agent of Israeli intelligence in Azerbaijan. Identifying himself as “Simon,” he told the publication that dozens of Israeli Mossad agents are operating in Azerbaijan.

“This is the starting point for intelligence work. Our presence here is unnoticed, but important. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it brings us very close to Iran. It’s amazing how vulnerable that country is,” said Simon.

According to the report, the meeting between the agent and a London Times reporter took place in Baku, outside the Israeli Embassy.

Four years ago, the Israeli diplomatic mission in Baku increased security measures, in response to the killing of senior Hizbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh.

Baku is a few hours by car from the Iranian border, and is known as the “gray zone” of intelligence operations. A large amount of information comes from people who regularly move freely across borders.

“Most of these (movements) are not controlled, except for the Iranians, who observe, as we watched them,” the agent told the Times. “It has been compared to Casablanca or Istanbul during World War II, a center of espionage.”

A local security expert believes that there are “only a few Mossad agents working there. But they are more efficient than the Iranian intelligence, which has thousands of agents there.”

“The Iranians are in the open, they want everyone to know that they are here. Israelis are thinner than the Americans. But, after all, everyone knows that they are here” he told the Times.

Political scientist Zazhdusht Alizadeh told the Times that the spy network in Baku are “an open secret.”

“We all know that they are here. The only secret is how much money they paid the Government of Azerbaijan in the form of bribes,” he said.

Tibbi Singer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/israeli-intelligence-monitoring-iran-from-azerbaijan/2012/02/12/

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