We think of the nations in this volatile sphere as set-ups for the vulgar, tasteless and wildly funny Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s clueless fictional character from the glorious nation of Kazakhstan. But gaze at the map. Geography is destiny.
Israel now has access to military bases in two strategic Central Asian Muslim states. Azerbaijan, mostly Shia, shares a vital border with Iran. Kazakhstan does not share a border with Iran, but this Sunni Muslim state sits tantalizingly close to Iran, to heavily fortified nuclear installations.
As a friend in the IAF quipped: “We’ve got the mullahs surrounded.”
My buddy was joking. But not really.
Strategic thinkers in the Israeli defense establishment understand that America is—until a Republican sits in the White House—out of the super-power business. And because Barack Obama’s administration views Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria with more alarm than a nuclear-armed Iran, Jerusalem is quietly, determinedly, filling the power void with Muslim allies of Central Asia who understand that Iran’s hegemonic ambitions for the region must be halted.
Central Asia is Russia’s sphere of influence. And yet, Putin seems content to sit back and leave unmolested the powerful commercial and defense alliances between Israel and two Sunni states. This is a pretty solid indication that though Russia backs Iran, their support is hardly unqualified. In fact, Putin is setting limits on Iranian power—a constant and growing Shia threat to Russia’s volatile Chechens —by giving a wink and a nod to the despised Zionist state.
As Barack Obama basks in the glow of Barack Obama’s leading-from-behind doctrine, the adults in the region, Putin, Netanyahu, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, fill the America void.
Defense ministers from Israel and Kazakhstan inked a security cooperation accord Jan. 20 formalizing military and defense industrial ties between the two nations.
The bilateral agreement, signed in Tel Aviv by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and his Kazakh counterpart, Adilbek Dzhaksbekov, provides a general “umbrella” for cultivating defense trade and future cooperation between the two governments, an Israeli defense official here said.
Since Israel and Kazakhstan established diplomatic ties in 1992, the two countries have signed multiple cooperation accords involving telecommunications, science and technology, and other dual-use sectors.
Read more at Defense News.
In 2012 Israel and Azerbaijan inked a 1.6 billion dollar arms deal. As reported by Defense Update:
The contract was announced in January 2012 by Israel Aerospace Industries, without disclosing the identity of the customer. According to reports published in the foreign press, the arms package included in the two contracts include the Green Pinemissile defense radar, which also provides the main sensor for the Israeli Arrow missile defense system, various air defense radars and missile systems, as well as ship-launched missiles, supporting the small Azeri Caspian Navy vessels which consists mostly with fast patrol boats, with more powerful firepower.
According to foreign sources, the warming of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan follow mutual political and commercial interests between the two countries, and particularly by their mutual concern of the rising threat of Iran, and Tehran’s thrust to achieve nuclear weapon capability. Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan have grown as its once-strong strategic relationship with another Iranian neighbor, Turkey, has deteriorated.
Iran accused Israeli Mossad agents to have assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists and are thought to have retaliated against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan in the past. In February 2012 Azeri authorities foiled what is said to be an Iranian-sponsored attacks against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan. In 2008, Azeri officials said they thwarted a plot to explode car bombs near the Israeli Embassy. A year earlier, Azerbaijan convicted 15 people in connection with an alleged Iranian-linked spy network accused of passing intelligence on Western and Israeli activities.
Watch the skies.