What Azerbaijan’s Alliance with the West, and with Israel, Can Accomplish

A predominantly Shiite Muslim country, bordering Russia to its north and Iran to its south, Azerbaijan established bilateral relations with Israel in the first year of its independence from the Soviet Union. Ayoob Kara explains the important role this small country can play in support of the free world, especially given the looming shortages of fuel and basic foodstuffs:

In recent days, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched a large-scale military drill along the Azerbaijan-Armenia border in an attempt to sabotage the fragile peace between the two countries. They are doing so because, for quite some time, Azerbaijan has helped the U.S. and Israel thwart regional terrorism—including terrorism sponsored by Iran—which threatens the entire Middle East. As a result, Iran has been using the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia to weaken Azerbaijan’s position in the West.

Anyone who cares about the future of Western civilization should not let that happen. . . . Israel has already vowed to provide Azerbaijan with the technical assistance it needs to engage in mass cultivation of wheat. It also held a three-day conference designed to showcase technology that can address problems of food security, which was attended by Azerbaijan’s deputy minister of agriculture.

Azerbaijan recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the EU that will supply the Europeans with at least 20 billion cubic meters of gas by 2027 via a future southern gas corridor. In the wake of the war in Ukraine, the EU needs reliable energy partners and it believes that Azerbaijan is such a partner, especially because the country’s economic freedom, pro-Western orientation, and positive atmosphere for religious minorities are very much in accordance with American and European values.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy