The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, recently threatened “the Islamic republic’s enemies” with revenge for their “interventionist and mischievous actions.” His statement came after a video clip was released in which the IRGC threatened drone strikes against Israeli, American and Iranian dissident targets. Also threatened was Azerbaijan. This was not a coincidence.
According to a recent MEMRI translation, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a Nov. 2 televised address that the Islamic republic has defeated the United States. In the coming world order, he said, the U.S. will be unimportant and isolated. He promised his audience that the “Death to America!” slogan they chant will come true. Female students in the crowd, wearing traditional Iranian chadors, dutifully chanted “Death to America!” several times during the speech.
In light of these threats from Iran, which is brutally murdering its own people in an attempt to quell ongoing protests, the State of Israel should stand with its allies in their struggle against the mullahs’ regime. One of those allies is Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan already cooperates closely with Israel in many fields. Because they share a border with Iran, the Azerbaijanis are well aware of the threat posed by the Islamic republic and have excellent intelligence on its malign and extremist activities. Intelligence sharing with Azerbaijan is a boon to Israel and other countries that oppose Iran’s imperialist foreign policy.
Iran has a long history of threatening Azerbaijan. Recently, it held a military drill along the border between the two countries and opened a consulate near the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Iran also opposes the establishment of the Zangezur corridor between Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which Iran knows will weaken its axis in the region.
In the city of Aghdam, the Azerbaijanis fell victim to an ethnic cleansing campaign in which their homes and household items were sold to the Iranians, who collaborated in crimes against humanity during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Inside Iran, ethnic Azerbaijanis are brutally repressed. They are denied the right to speak their own language in schools and their heritage sites are unprotected and eroding quickly. For this reason, Azerbaijan is deeply sympathetic to Israel in its ongoing struggle against Iranian aggression.
Moreover, Azerbaijan is one of the few countries in the world in which there is little anti-Semitism. Attacks on synagogues, for example, are virtually unknown. Azerbaijan is a secular, pluralistic, multicultural society that protects the rights of minorities and women. As a result, Azerbaijanis strongly sympathize with the Iranian protesters, who are facing sexual abuse and other forms of torture. Azerbaijan can help provide crucial support to the protest movement, which desperately needs it.
Moreover, if we strengthen Azerbaijanis in Iran itself, they can finally gain independence from Iranian domination and create their own country alongside the Ahwaz, the Baloch, the Turkmen and many other peoples. This will further weaken the mullahs’ regime.
The time has come to stop talking. We must act against Iran. Israel and Azerbaijan should do so together. This would turn the tables on the Islamic republic, which has attempted to encircle Israel by creating bases in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, as well as supporting Palestinian terror groups. Through an alliance with Azerbaijan, Israel would have its own forward base right on Iran’s border.
Azerbaijan is a natural ally of the State of Israel. That is why I have traveled to the Azerbaijani-Iranian border and sent a loud and clear message. I proclaimed that we will no longer tolerate Iranian-sponsored terrorism and we stand together with Azerbaijan against Iranian imperialism across the Middle East and the world.
Ayoob Kara served as Israel’s Minister of Communications