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Eric Gozlan

Azerbaijan: a strategic ally

I do not wish to evoke in this article the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia because I previously did it in a previous article https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/armenia-azerbaijan-peace-the-only-possible-future/

My comment will concern the strategic importance of Azerbaijan for the Western countries.

Azerbaijan, with a surface of 86,000 square kilometers and a population of 10,205,000 inhabitants, has several borders with countries which, if they are not all in open conflict with the West, are considered as not friendly.

Thus, Azerbaijan has borders of 611 km with Iran, 284 km with Russia and 322 km with Georgia.

Member of the Council of Europe since 2001 and NATO’s main partner in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan has moved closer to the West despite pressure from Russia and Iran.

Azerbaijan disturbs the Mullahs of Tehran because even if Shiite Muslims represent 90% of the population, this country is secular. Moreover, Baku has established an open agreement with Israel.

For many years, Baku has been blocking radical Islamism and has been part of the coalition against Daesh .

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, many commentators have considered that Russia’s recent difficulties on the battlefield and its unprecedented economic isolation make Azerbaijan an essential ally, both economically and strategically, for the West.

In a congratulatory letter to U.S. President Joe Biden on Independence Day, July 4, Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev welcomed greater Western involvement in Azerbaijan.

Western involvement must intensify in the South Caucasus because it is a major region in terms of energy security and access to Central Asia.

There is of course the war with Armenia, but we observe that more or less discreet negotiations exist between those two countries. Peace will make Armenia stronger economically and Azerbaijan will concentrate its army against radical Islamism.

The war in Ukraine evidences that economic and strategic alliances must evolve,  South Caucasus must, for the sake of the West, must be again  a land of peace  and  Azerbaijan, which is at the crossroads of the Western, Eastern and Asian worlds, should be taken more into consideration by Western governments. For this, the West must help to achieve a lasting peace in the region.

About the Author
Eric Gozlan is Government Counselor and co-director of the international Council for diplomacy and dialogue. He works in civic diplomacy in the Middle East and in Africa. He has received numerous awards for peace and gives numerous lectures. He served in the IDF for several years.