Namig Abbasov / Emil A. Souleimanov
Mr. Abbasov is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University. Dr. Souleimanov is a professor at the Department of Security Studies, Institute of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, Prague.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, political commentators and students of international relations alike have been puzzled by an increasingly cordial relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority republic in the South Caucasus. Indeed, the unfolding alliance of the Jewish state and a tiny, energy-rich, post-Soviet country sandwiched between Iran and Russia has been by many seen as an anomaly. Particularly puzzled have been constructivists and adepts of geopolitics for whom the shared Shiite identity of Azerbaijan and Iran pre-ordained a close relationship. In reality, Tehran's suspicions of Azerbaijan's economic rise, coupled with concerns over pan-Turkic sentiments spread through Iran's northwest, and Iran's own imperial nostalgia have exacerbated an adversarial relationship. Against this backdrop, Azerbaijan's efforts to counterbalance those of Iran and Russia in the Caspian-South Caucasus region have brought Baku to forge closer ties with Israel.
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