MidEast

Report: Ahead of Netanyahu Visit, Azerbaijan Seeks to Purchase Israel’s Iron Dome

Azerbaijan may be looking to purchase Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the Shiite-majority nation, Israeli media reported Thursday, citing Azerbaijani news outlets.

A member of the Azerbaijani parliament, Yevda Abramov, reportedly claimed that Iron Dome is ready for transfer to the country’s military.

A northern neighbor of Iran, Azerbaijan has maintained strong diplomatic ties with Israel since 1993. Strategically located beside Russia, Iran, Armenia, and Turkey, the oil-rich Caucasus state’s friendly relationship with Jerusalem includes cooperation in the realms of security, gas, and energy.

Azerbaijani President Ilhem Aliyev met with late Israeli President Shimon Peres during his 2009 visit to Baku, and a number of high-ranking Israeli officials have visited the country in recent years. Current Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited Azerbaijan three times as foreign minister, and his predecessor as defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, attended a defense exposition there in 2014. Five Israeli companies participated in that event, where the Iron Dome system was on display.

In 2009, Azeri security services exposed a plot by Iranian intelligence and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah to target the Israeli embassy and Jewish sites in Baku. The attack was planned in retaliation for the 2008 killing of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s “defense minister,” which was attributed to the Mossad, Israel’s national security agency.

Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Azerbaijan and neighboring Kazakhstan next month. He had previously visited Azerbaijan during his first term as prime minister in 1997.

[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / WikiCommons ]