DOĞU ERGİL

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DOĞU ERGİL
April 08, 2012, Sunday

A dangerous cooperation

Lately news has been circulating concerning intimate relations being forged between Israel and Azerbaijan.

 This is important at a time when Israel is waging psychological warfare against Iran in order to deter its nuclear program. If it is true, then the possible front line between the two countries will be much closer. They will become virtual neighbors if Israel gets permission, as it is claimed, to use airbases in Azerbaijan. Then Israel will become the source of a “near and present danger” for Iran rather than its traditional foe, the US. Of course this makes Israel considerably dependent on the US, forcing it to clear cross-border operations.

Having access to air bases in Azerbaijan will solve Israel’s problem of sending out its bomber jets and getting them back without refueling. Considering that the distance between Israel and Iran is roughly 4,000 kilometers, Iran will feel the pressure of an Israeli offensive if it insists on its weapons grade nuclear research.

Yet as George Friedman of Stratfor says, “Israel’s fundamental strategic problem is that its national security interests outstrip its national resources.” It needs the aid and support of the US, among others. Without American support it is hard to confront Iran. Then the ado going on may be a psychological maneuver to delay if not to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions to begin with.

Israel most probably wants Iranians to believe that its warplanes could deliver harm to Iranian nuclear facilities and return to their temporary bases in Azerbaijan, refuel and take off for Israel.

The Azerbaijani government categorically denies these rumors that have been floated by some US officials.

If Israel really executes an air operation by using Azerbaijani airfields, it may pull Azerbaijan into a war with Iran and start a regional war from which the US cannot remain aloof. Thus, this leak is suspected of being an official caper by the Obama administration to abort Israeli rashness that would harm the president’s election chances and put the US in harm’s way if it is dragged into a war just to protect Israel, which has a fixation over Iran.

Speculation on an unprecedented Azerbaijani-Israeli rapprochement has revealed other critical information, such as the presence of Mossad in Azerbaijan to carry out special operations inside Iran from a close distance. In return, Baku is receiving sundry expensive and developed weapons and war equipment, most probably to be used in a blitzkrieg against Armenia, which has been holding on to 20 percent of Azerbaijani national territory since 1994. Dmitry Adamsky (in his article “Why Israel Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” Foreign Affairs, March 31, 2012) has an interesting take on why Israel is so hung up on deterring other nations from having the bomb it has had since the 1960s. In his view, Israel’s policy of nuclear deterrence is based on a flawed strategy. This is because it has developed its nuclear capacity to guarantee its national security. Israel intends to use this capacity when its existence is in danger. This strategy was named the “Samson Option.” A historical figure, Samson, ended his life in a “die, let die” scenario when he felt he was cornered. This strategy has been the permanent fixture of the Israeli defense doctrine for the past three decades.

When any threat was viewed as an existential danger, Israeli defense strategists demonized any attempt to acquire nuclear capability. Adamsky finds this paradoxical: “The basic potential advantage of the ‘Samson Option’ is that it could deter a nuclear-armed foe.” But a country without nuclear weapons is just a conventional opponent. To treat it as a nuclear power and try to deter it without the use of nuclear weapons is impossible. So what is the use of nuclear weapons if you cannot use them even to deter your opponent? It seems not only the south of Turkey but its east will be very busy soon.

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