Reports and denials are flourishing regarding allegations that Israel “bought” access to Azerbaijan airfields, a country that borders Iran to the north. Regardless of what officials on either side claim or refute, such a basing arrangement would make total sense for the IAF as they could not only be able to raid essential Iranian nuclear targets with their fighter fleet full of gas and heavy weapons loads, but from bases just north of Tehran Israel could actually execute and sustain a full on air campaign against Iranian military and developmental targets. In other words, the IAF would be able to not only set back Iran’s nuclear development timeline, but they would also be able to strike at their ballistic missile program and infrastructure, as well as other more conventional military capabilities. Such a campaign would be invaluable towards reducing Iran’s retaliatory capability in the near to medium term following such a strike.
The Israeli-Azerbaijan relationship is a complicated one, but also one that has blossomed recently. The main issue regarding these claims that does seem puzzling concerns the cost-benefit equation for Azerbaijan. Regardless of the massive compensation Israel could possibly offer Azerbaijan for staging their forces within their country for such a strike, once the operation were to commence it would be logical to assume that Iran would immediately declare war against not only Israel but the country that agreed to base their attacking forces as well, and such hostilities amongst bordering states could last long after Israeli-Iranian combat has ceased.
At a minimum, even limited Israeli access of Azerbaijan airfields would allow IAF combat search and rescue helicopter and commando teams to mount aircrew recovery operations if aircrew were downed over Iranian territory. Further, drone aircraft which would be key in assessing bomb damage after a large Israeli “alpha strike” could operate with ease from such close proximity basing. By allowing Israel to use bases in Azerbaijan for such limited support and non-offensive missions, Iran may feel a little less belligerent toward their northerly neighbor as opposed to a scenario where they are the primary staging ground for a massive bombing campaign against Iranian targets.
Many are accusing the Obama Administration of leaking this information as the White House is very concerned that an Israeli raid on Iran could totally destabilize the fragile Middle East region and wreak havoc on an already faltering world economy. It is possible that if the Israelis had reached a deal with the Azerbaijanis over basing rights, and seeing how total secrecy would be needed for such an operation to succeed, the White House, having got wind of such a deal, decided that giving the Israeli’s an unprecedented opportunity to attack may not be in the United States’s interest, and thus blew the deal up before the world’s media. Keep in mind, this information comes on the same day as the news that the US may pump many more millions of dollars into the unrelated, yet still very politically relevant, Iron Dome rocket and artillary defense shield that has proven very successful recently, foiling some 85% of relevant rocket attacks on the Israeli populace.
At this point this story is still developing and nothing can be casted outside of the realm of possibility, stay tuned for further developments…