In a special report titled “Israel and Azerbaijan are in one trench against Iran” published last Saturday in Elaph, a Saudi-run London-based Arab-language news service, a “senior source” claimed that two Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets have been “permanently stationed” in Azerbaijan. The source claimed that Israel had assured Azerbaijan that it “stands by it in its crisis with Iran, and will provide it with all possible assistance, and is ready to participate technically and from the air to repel any attack launched by Tehran on Azeri territory. ”
The report also claimed that Israel has “a military airport in Azerbaijan, in addition to monitoring, reconnaissance and espionage sites, and that it permanently flies spy planes from this airport in the direction of Iran. The sources also say that two Israeli F-35 planes are always present in Azerbaijan, and Israel can bring in another number of its fighters there when needed.”
The author of the report was Majdi Al-Halabi, a well-known Israeli Druze journalist.
On March 29, 2012, officials stated that Israel was granted access to airbases in Azerbaijan through a “series of quiet political and military understandings.” These airbases could potentially be used in a strike against Iran over its nuclear program and other tensions with Iran, and would be allowed by Azerbaijan. Israeli and Azerbaijani officials denied these reports. On September 30, 2012, it was reported that Azerbaijan and Israel jointly examined the use of Azerbaijani air bases and spy drones to help Israeli jets perform a long-range strike on Iran. This would help Israel with regard to issues with refueling, reconnaissance, and rescuing crews, and could make an attack more feasible.
The report comes after an accusation by Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian that large-scale military drills in the north of the country close to the Azerbaijani border were due to “Zionists present in Azerbaijan”.
‘Those who dig a hole for their brothers will be the first to fall into it’, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted the following day.
Azerbaijan is one of the few majority Muslim countries to develop bilateral strategic and economic relations with Israel. The two countries have cooperated closely since 1992 when Azerbaijan declared its independence. Since then Israel has been developing closer ties with Azerbaijan and has helped modernize the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. The Israeli military has been a major provider of battlefield aviation, artillery, anti-tank, and anti-infantry weaponry to Azerbaijan. In the September 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, Azerbaijan has deployed Israeli-made weapons on Armenian targets and Israel continues to back Azerbaijan in its decades-long territorial dispute with Armenia.
In March 2012, the magazine Foreign Policy reported that the Israeli Air Force may be preparing to use the Sitalchay Military Airbase, located 500 km (340 miles) from the Iranian border, for airstrikes against the nuclear program of Iran.