Brief: In Azerbaijan, an Opportunity for Mediation

Being stuck between Israel and Iran may allow Baku to be a referee.

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Background: The recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict made Azerbaijan hostage to the competition between Iran and Israel, which has put the government in Baku in the unenviable position of having to balance between the two. Israel and Azerbaijan have a close military relationship, and Iran, with its geographic proximity and a large Azeri population, is a natural ally of Azerbaijan in the Caucasus. What Happened: Azerbaijan’s foreign minister is slated to visit Tehran on Wednesday, during which he will meet with President Hassan Rouhani, Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. The announcement of the visit comes on the same day that he spoke to Israel’s foreign minister about the postwar situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the security situation in the Caucasus, and “regional and international issues of mutual interest.” Bottom Line: Being stuck between Iran and Israel may have given Azerbaijan an opportunity: Though Israel and Iran refuse to engage in direct talks, both are compelled to avoid military confrontation and may be seeking an indirect channel of communication through Azerbaijan. While we don’t exactly know the scope and scale of what is being discussed in the above conversations, we know that the sequence […]

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