What the Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict Might Mean for Israel, Iran, and the Middle East

The fighting that recently erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan has its origins in the former’s occupation of a segment of the latter’s territory in a war that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. Behind these military engagements are ethnic tensions between these two Transcaucasian peoples that stretch back at least to the 19th century—as well as complex geopolitical forces. Harold Rhode tries to make sense of the muddle of larger and smaller powers who have an interest in the current war’s outcome:

Azerbaijan, located along Iran’s northwestern border, has always been a problem for Iran. Three-quarters of the total Azeri population in the world live in northwest Iran. . . . That is why Iran [historically] feared that if an independent Azeri state were created, it might attract Iran’s Azeris to join them, and thereby dismember Iran.

The Armenian-Azeri conflict spells trouble for Israel. Israel wants no part of a conflict with Christian Armenia. But Azerbaijan is a close ally of Israel’s, because of the Iranian threat to both. Israel also supplies Azerbaijan with weapons that it hopes won’t be used against Armenia. Shiite Iran supports Armenia, largely . . . because Iran sees [Shiite] Azerbaijan as an existential threat to its own territorial integrity. Turkey and Israel oddly find themselves on the same side in this conflict, with both supporting Azerbaijan.

Some observers have asked whether Iran might have provoked the Armenians to attack the Azeris. If so, did Iran do so to distract/preoccupy America and its allies from turning up the heat against Iran even more severely? [And] will Iranian Azeris—so passionately Iranian, yet still Azeri—remain silent as Armenians kill their fellow Azeris across the border?

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More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security, Turkey

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror