Israeli arms are fueling Azerbaijan’s fighting with Armenia in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the president of Azerbaijan, told Israeli media that the Azeri military has been using Israeli-made attack drones in the recent violence.
Israel and Azerbaijan are major trading partners. The two countries have signed defense agreements together, and it is believed that Israel provides the Azeri military with 60 percent of its weapons. Israel also gets a large amount of its oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan. Azeri cargo planes have been recently spotted at an air force base in southern Israel.
Azeri cargo planes landing at this base is a relatively common occurrence, but the timing and frequency of recent flights indicate Israeli arms are fueling the conflict. According to Haaretz, two Azeri Ilyushin Il-76 freighters landed at the base last Thursday, just days before the fighting broke out. Two more freighters arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means Azeri forces could be replenishing their weapons.
Hajiyev said that the Azeris “very much appreciate the cooperation with Israel, especially the defense cooperation.” So far, Israel has remained silent on the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. When asked if this silence bothered the Azeris, Hajiyev said, “No, no, Israel and Azerbaijan understand our situation” and cited multiple agreements between the two countries.
The fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh continued for a fourth day on Wednesday and shows no sign of slowing down. Turkey has been accused of intervening in the battle on behalf of the Azeris, with Armenia claiming Ankara is using F-16s to shoot down Armenian fighter jets. Turkey denies the charge. Reports say Ankara has been helping its ally in another way, by sending mercenaries from northern Syria to the region to support Azerbaijan.