הדיקטטור של אזרבייג’ן, אילהם אלייב, מאיים לפגוע בקשרים הביטחוניים עם ישראל אם לא יבוטלו האישומים בפרשת אירונאוטיקס. צא”פ מונע מהתקשורת הישראלית לדווח על הפרשה. האם ישראל בונה בסיס ריגול בגבול איראן בחסות ‘עיר חכמה?’
Israeli agriculture technology and expertise will be incorporated in the first Smart City in Zangilan, #Azerbaijan. Amb @GeorgeDeek visited the site to see where this exciting #Israel–#Azerbaijan–#Italy cooperation will take place. We hope you love good cheese! pic.twitter.com/xis9CB5wNN
— Israel in Azerbaijan (@IsraelinAZ) June 7, 2021
On June 7th, Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan announced (see above) his country had reached an agreement with the Azeri regime to build what it called a “smart city” in Zangilan, a town on the Azeri-Iran border. It’s among the territory disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan, and was conquered and occupied by the latter in the recent war they fought. The very notion of building a technologically advanced city in the midst of the abject rural poverty of this region is laughable. Read this and I think you will agree:
‘Right here, Azerbaijan is going to build a smart city, first one in the territories, where Israeli company is going to build a dairy farm, where with the use of Israeli technology it will be possible to make dairy products, mainly milk. Then those will be given to the Italian factory, right next to it, where it is going to create dairy products, like cheese, etc,” the ambassador said in a video posted in the embassy’s official Facebook page.
Earlier it was reported that Israel will build a buffalo farm in Azerbaijan’s Zangilan region recently liberated from the Armenian occupation. The farm will be initially for 300-400 cattle heads and then be increased to 1,000 cattle heads. Buffalos in the farm will be imported from Italy. The project manager stressed that the business idea is to realize a full equipment buffalo dairy farm for high-quality production of mozzarella burrata and other buffalo cheeses in the Zangilan region.
If you can figure out why Italian cheese makers would be making fresh mozzarella buffala on the Iranian frontier, you’re smarter than I am. After that, perhaps you can explain me what water buffalos and cheese have to do with a “smart city.” Israel’s amazing diary production technology? I hardly think so. But I do like the image of Mossad agents and signals intelligence specialists disguised as Azeri milk maids running through the “smart” daily. It has a certain comedic-cinematic quality.
It seems obvious that Israel is going to build highly advanced surveillance facilities in this town and will do so under cover of the “smart city” label. Who this is going to fool, I don’t know. Least of all the Iranians.
There is one element of Israel’s purported plan that does ring true: it has a soft spot for countries which make war against neighbors, conquer their territory and then build new settlements.
There is only one thing Israel would want to do here: build a listening post to penetrate Iran. It would likely be staffed by Unit 8200 SIGINT staff. It could also serve as a forward operating base for the Mossad to use in sabotaging Iranian infrastructure like its nuclear facilities, or in its assassination campaign against that country’s nuclear scientists.
For years, Israel has forged a tight relationship with Azerbaijan’s corrupt dictator Ilham Aliyev. In return for unspecified benefits proffered by Israel, he has permitted it to operate an Azeri airfield which may be used for drone surveillance flights over Iran. In the event of an Israeli air attack against Iranian nuclear sites, this facility could serve as a critical support base for such an operation. Azerbaijan has also spent billions on Israeli drones which were widely used in its war with Armenia. They offered a potent weapon against relatively defenseless Armenian military positions and made a major contribution to the Azeri victory.
Despite the enormous boon to its weapons exporters, the Israeli embrace of Azerbaijan has has much more to do with its proximity to Iran. Israeli military support in the Armenian conflict was what, in effect, facilitated the Azeri conquest of Zangilan, which in turn is being offered to the Israelis on a silver platter.
Another factor recommending Azerbaijan to the Israelis is the tight control and naked corruption of the Aliyev family. It offers Israel precisely the sort of ally it prefers (cf. Saudi Arabia). It has little use for strategic partner nations which are democracies, since leadership of such countries rotates and might bring to power forces opposed to Israeli strategic initiatives like the ones in Azerbaijan.
An article in Intelligence Online points to a major cause of friction in the Azeri-Israeli relationship. In 2017, the Israeli Aeronautics drone manufacturer sent technicians and corporate executives to pitch the Azeri military on buying its Orbiter attack drones. During meetings between the Israelis and Azeri officers the latter made an astonishing demand: to demonstrate the effectiveness of the drone, the Azeris demanded that the Israelis themselves use the weapon to attack an Armenian army position. The technicians refused. It was their job to show how the drones worked and train Azeri personnel how to fly them. They were not about to become involved in a war between two foreign countries.
However, the executives, who saw billions of dollars in sales on the line agreed to the demonstration. They donned Azeri military uniforms and flew the drones which attacked Armenian military positions. This story is under Israeli military censorship. No media outlet can report it there. However, I did here.
Aeronautics had violated the export license approved by the Israeli defense ministry for the drone weaponry. As a result, the state prosecutor opened a case against the senior executives of the company, who were charged and convicted of serious crimes. This has rankled Aliyev, who has threatened to break the strategic relationship unless the criminal convictions are quashed.
It’s clear what will happen: national security issue trumps all else, including the rule of law. These convictions will either be overturned or the president will pardon the executives. Nothing can come between Israel’s intelligence apparatus and its role in monitoring Iran.