News that Israel has sold Azerbajan $1.6 billion in arms probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to any one.
The sale to Azerbaijan would include drones, anti aircraft and missile defence technology. Israel made a string of excuses for arming the small country in a volatile region, but aside from the arms trade profits, Israel was no doubt trying to create another ally for itself on Iran’s border. Israel has already sold drones to Azerbaijan. It isn’t specified what drones the new contract would include, but presumably would include Heron and Searcher drones described in discussions last year.
In September 2011 Armenia is said to have shot down an Azerbaijan drone over disputed Nagorno Karabakh.
Only a few years ago, Israel made huge arms sales to neighbouring Georgia, but sales were cancelled part way along in the wake of a brush fire war between Georgia and Russia, which involved the shooting down of a Georgian drone over Russian territory. It is alleged that Russia made clear to Israel that if it continued to arm Georgia, then Russia would make further deals with Israel’s arch enemy Iran.
Subsequently Israeli and Georgian institutions became involved in litigation, and Israel began selling drone technology to Russia. The story is long and complicated. Ali Abunimah wrote a provocative analysis of the events, at the time.
Allegations emerged recently from documents leaked by Wikileaks that prior to the Georgian conflict, Israel had provided Russia with secret codes for the Georgian drones in return for codes for sold to Iran by Russia.
Israel appears to be trying to gain diplomatic and military advantage by its arms sales in the Caucausus, but the result is the destabilisation of the region. No more so than with the sale of drones which, as a new war technology, are inherently destabilising.