March 29, 2012
Azerbaijan denies report it gave Israel access to airfields
Azerbaijan officials denied a claim in an American magazine that Israel was granted access to airbases in Azerbaijan.
Foreign Policy Magazine reported Wednesday that Israel was granted access to the airbases in the Caucasus nation, raising the fears of U.S. officials that it is readying an attack on Iran. Azerbaijan is located on Iran’s northern border.
“This information is absurd and groundless,” Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry spokesman Teymur Abdullayev told the French news agency AFP.
An Azerbaijan presidential official told AFP that the article was “aimed at damaging relations between Azerbaijan and Iran.”
Writing in Foreign Policy’s new issue, Mark Perry reported that the unnamed senior U.S. diplomats and military intelligence officers with whom he spoke believe that the heightened security cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan heightens the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran. It also will make it more difficult for the United States to reduce Israel-Iran tensions, the officials said.
“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” the article quotes a senior U.S. administration official as saying, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”
The Israeli Embassy in Washington, the Israel Defense Forces and Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency declined to comment for the extensive article.
The unnamed officials believe that Israel has gained permission to use four abandoned, Soviet-era airfields and airbases through a “series of quiet political and military understandings.”