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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Azerbaijan Strengthens Ties With Israel

(Image: Map of Azerbaijan, Credit:

For those of you who do not know, Azerbaijan is located right above Iran and just below Russia (note: they must "love" their neighbors).

Anyways it seems that this nation (which by the way is composed mostly of Shia Muslims) is seeking to do something that most nations of similar faith are shying away from--courting Israel.

(Jerusalem Post) The strategic significance for Israel of this relationship is perhaps hard to exaggerate. Besides being a majority Muslim state - over two-thirds of Azeris are Shi'ites - Azerbaijan is located in the "energy corridor" leading from Central Asia and the Caspian to the West. It is the starting point of the newly opened Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the world second-longest, which brings Caspian oil to the Turkish Mediterranean city of Ceyhan, and it is an air corridor for the West into Afghanistan and - in theory, at least - Iran. [...]

Most crucially, however, Israel's geographic position offers Azerbaijan the key to reaching Eastern oil markets. Israel's Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline may give Azerbaijan the southern oil port it needs to compete with Iranian exports. With discussions well underway on an underwater pipeline linking Ceyhan and Ashkelon, a resulting 2,500-kilometer-long Baku-Eilat pipeline would bring Azeri oil to the immense and growing South Asian and Chinese markets.

I am not too sure how they will convince the Iranians to go along, but such a pipeline (if constructed) would encourage the nations in the region to cooperate to a degree and thus help at least establish some dialogue between Israel and her regional neighbors.

No word yet as to when construction will commence, but hopefully this idea will catch the China's eye as it would help bring another party to the table, especially one from the east.

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