Report: Israel Granted Access to Air Bases Abutting Iran

''Israelis Have Bought an Airfield, and the Airfield is Called Azerbaijan'

By Haaretz

Published March 29, 2012.

Israel has been granted access to air bases in Azerbaijan on Iran’s northern border, Foreign Policy reported Wednesday, quoting senior U.S. diplomats and military intelligence officials.

“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” a senior U.S. administration official told Foreign Policy’s Mark Perry, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

According to the report, U.S. intelligence officials are worried that Israel’s military involvement in Azerbaijan would make it more difficult for the U.S. to reduce Israeli-Iranian tensions. Apparently now, military planners must prepare for a war scenario that would also involve the Caucasus.

“We’re watching what Iran does closely,” said a U.S. intelligence officer involved in assessing the consequences of a potential Israeli strike on Iran. “But we’re now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we’re not happy about it.”

In February, Israel signed a $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan, committing to sell drones and anti-aircraft missile defense systems to Baku. According to a retired U.S. diplomat, the deal left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “sputtering in rage,” since Israel had previously canceled a contract to develop drones with the Turkish military.

For more, go to Haaretz.com



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