Apartment Explodes Ukraine, 22 killed

This unusual apartment explosion at Yevpatoria takes place in what is probably the new hotspot of the world.  This former Russian stronghold, known as Crimea is the currently contested home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, at Sevastapol.  This is also where the new American Presence Post will be established at Simferopol in a ceremony where Condoleeza Rice will sign a new US/Ukranian strategic agreement on January 4.

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Former KLA members arrested

26. December 2008. | 10:01

The Interior Ministry (MUP) has begun an operation to arrest former KLA members in Preševo on charges of war crimes committed against civilians in Gnjilane.

Interior Minister Ivica Dačić and the War Crimes Prosecution confirmed for B92 that the operation began early this morning and is related to crimes against Serb and non-Albanian civilians in Gnjilane in 1999.

According to B92’s sources, 11 people have been arrested thus far and 17 locations have been searched.

The War Crimes Prosecution states that MUP officials have arrested members of the so-called Gnjilane Group of the Kosovo Liberation Army suspected of kidnapping 159 Serb civilians and killing at least 51 between June-October 1999.

The KLA members are accused of violating the provisions of international and national law, murder, rape, imprisonment, torture and looting in an effort to remove Serbs and non-Albanians from the territory of the municipality of Gnjilane, the prosecution states.

The crimes were allegedly committed in three locations in Gnjilane. The arrests were conducted with help from security service officials and was planned for several months because of the high level of risked involved and the fact that almost all of the suspects were armed, the statement concludes.


Reuters Report German Govt Caught Staging False Flag Terror On EU Building *


“One of the three German agents (C) who were arrested on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack on European Union offices in Kosovo leaves the Pristina Detention center, in Pristina, Kosovo, 28 November 2008. Kosovo authorities released three German intelligence agents, 10 days after they were arrested and accused of throwing a bomb at a European Union office.”

One view holds that the agents were held as retribution for reports on key Kosovar officials by German intelligence services. 

The reason is a 67-page long, hard-hitting analysis by the BND about organized crime in Kosovo and a confidential report contracted by the German military, the Bundeswehr…German intelligence reports accuse Thaci as well as former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and Xhavit Haliti of the parliamentary leadership of far-reaching involvement in organized crime.”


Albright and the KLA leader Hasim Taci hugging one another during Albright’s visit to Pristina.

The BND writes: “The key players (including Haliti, Haradinaj, and Thaci) are intimately involved in inter-linkages between politics, business, and organized crime structures in Kosovo.” At the end of the 1990s, the report accuses Thaci of leading a “criminal network operating throughout Kosovo.”

ramus1 Ramush Haradinaj

The BND agents were released when the German government threatened to cut-off aid to Kosovo.

IPI Indian share

IPI Indian share

According to a report Pakistan has proposed to Iran to buy the Indian share in the proposed $ 7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project because India appears to have lost interest in the project after signing a civilian nuclear deal with the US. In this regard a team of energy experts will visit Iran soon to discuss the matter. The delegation will persuade the Iranian authorities to sign the agreement within next few months even if India stayed out. Iran has plans to link the gas prices with that of crude oil, with a ratio of 80 to 100 which means that if a barrel of crude oil is priced at $ 100 in the international market, Iran will sell one million cubic feet of gas at $ 80. Similarly, the gas prices will not remain fixed, but will fluctuate in accordance with the oil prices. Pakistan, however, wants the gas priced at half the crude price. Iran has said that after the completion of the project, it will fix gas price at around $ 10 to $ 12 per British thermal unit (Btu) compared to $ 4 offered by Pakistan and India.

The talks on the IPI project have stalled since 1994 when the consultations began. The original project is meant to address the looming energy crisis in the region, especially India, over the next decades. The negotiations on the gas pipeline have seen many ups and downs during the last decade or so. Progress on the proposed 2,600-kilometre pipeline hit a snag when India and Pakistan rejected a Britain-based consultative group’s suggested price of gas. India had earlier rejected Iran’s offer of selling its gas at $ 8 per mmBtu. India had then made a counter offer of $ 4.25 per mmBtu. In the past, Pakistan, Iran and India agreed on a pricing formula. Iran has offered to sell 60 million standard cubic meters of gas a day to India and Pakistan at $ 4.93 per mmBtu. Besides the energy factor, the importance of the IPI project can be seen in the context of the geo-political situation in the region, especially in the Middle East. Iran has the second largest gas reserves after Russia with proven reserves of 940 trillion cubic feet. It is under pressure from the US over its alleged nuclear programme. Besides the sanctions imposed by the UNSC on Iran, Tehran is under the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) imposed by the US in 1996, which provides for the imposition of sanctions against a country which invests more than $ 20 million in the Iranian oil business.

Despite opposition from the US, Pakistan and India have refused to tolerate pressure and have moved ahead with the pipeline proposal in the wake of urgent energy requirements. Although major issues have been sorted but some differences still remain. Iran wants gas prices to be revised every three years according to prices in the international market, which would leave India and Pakistan without much cushion against the volatility of gas prices. The demand for natural gas is growing at 10 percent per year and Pakistan is looking into all economically viable sources to meet the country’s future energy needs. The government is focused both on importing gas on feasible terms and expanding indigenous capacity. In the present Indo-Pak tension, Pakistan’s offer to buy Indian share of IPI gas seems to be an attempt to fill a vacuum and overcome the problem of gas shortage.

Pak warns of stern response, boosts troop movement

Pak warns of stern response, boosts troop movement

Zeenews Bureau

Lahore, Dec 25: Sabre-rattling from Pakistan reached a new level on Thursday as its Foreign Minister warned India of ‘stern response’ to any surgical strikes and Pakistani armed forces marched towards Jhelum.

Pakistan did not want war but is ready to defend its frontiers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan. If India made the “mistake of carrying out a surgical strike”, Pakistan will deal sternly with such an eventuality. Pakistan has purportedly moved its tenth brigade to Lahore and ordered its third Armed Brigade to march towards Jhelum.

It has also reportedly put its 10th and 11th divisions on high alert. Unconfirmed reports have said militants have also been stationed along with the Army at the said locations.

Also Pakistan’s Army has reportedly stationed its troops in the Rajouri and Poonch sectors of J&K.

The move comes a day after Pakistan deployed its Army in place of the regular Pak Rangers along its border with India.

“A lot of military movement is being noticed in districts just across the international border for the last few days, which is not normal,” said RC Dhyani, DIG of Rajasthan frontier BSF.

The deployment is an indication of the level of apprehension on the Pakistani side on an Indian attack. It should be noted that the last time Pakistan Rangers were replaced by Army during the Kargil war.

The State government of Rajasthan has ordered the residents of border villages to be prepared for relocation. According to sources, the order came after a meeting of state Director General of Police and Home Secretary with official of the Central government.

Diplomatic relations have gone into a tailspin between the two countries in the aftermath of a deadly terror attack on India’s financial capital Mumbai, believed to have been perpetrated by Pakistan based terrorists.

Meanwhile, after reports of a possible Indian attack on Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force continued its state of high alert and started aerial surveillance of the Chashma power plant and other sensitive sites.

There were reports of the fighter jets continuing aerial surveillance over the Chashma nuclear power plant and other sensitive sites.

Pakistan had put its airbases on high alert amidst fears of Indian ‘surgical strikes’ in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks.

“We will not resort to provocation while remaining committed to cooperation but at the same time, we will not tolerate any pressure,” he remarked. Pakistan, Qureshi said, should “hope for the best but be prepared for the worst”.

The country and the armed forces are vigilant and keeping a close watch on developments. “The situation keeps changing and we will prepare a strategy after examining any change,” Qureshi underlined. “We are continuously monitoring the situation on the ground and in the air. Our Air Force and armed forces are on alert.”

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said “some elements in both India and Pakistan” did not want peace between the two neighbours.

“As Pakistan-India relations were improving…Mumbai happened. There are elements on both sides who not want Pakistan-India relations to improve. The Mumbai incident has occurred at that very moment when relations were not only improving but I think a strategic advancement was being made,” he told Dawn News channel.

Egypt Fortifies Door to Gaza Prison In Anticipation of Planned Israeli Incursion

Expecting IDF offensive in Gaza, Egypt boosts border security

By Haaretz Service
Tags: Gaza, Israel news, Egypt
Egypt has boosted the security along its border with Gaza, officials said Friday, in anticipation of an imminent Israel Defense Forces operation within the territory, fearing an Israeli incursion would result in a breach of the border.

In January, Hamas militants frustrated over the tightened Israeli closure of Gaza blew holes in the border partition, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to stream into Egypt unchecked for ten days and stock up on food and other goods made scarce by the blockade.

Egyptian officials told Israel Radio, however, that Egypt is pressing on with efforts to prevent the escalation of violence in the region. The officials said that representatives of Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman have approached senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar in the Gaza Strip and presented him with Egypt’s concerns.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militants fired dozens of mortar shells from the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday and early morning Friday, as the IDF prepared for action.

The mortars damaged one building, but no one was hurt in any of the incidents.

Reportedly, a “limited operation” will begin within days that will combine an air attack with some ground operations against Hamas and other Gaza terror groups. The cabinet has given the go-ahead for an operation of a few days’ duration with clearly defined goals.



Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins

Friends in Afghanistan

By Joby Warrick

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country’s roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency’s operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

“Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people — whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations that are largely classified.

Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, a country where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don’t offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and even Iranian agents in the region.

The usual bribes of choice — cash and weapons — aren’t always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.

“If you give an asset $1,000, he’ll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone,” said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. “Even if he doesn’t get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it.”

The key, Smith said, is to find a way to meet the informant’s personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little or no visible trace.

“You’re trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century,” Smith said, “so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere.”


Pakistan moves troops toward Indian border

Pakistan moves troops toward Indian border

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan began moving thousands of troops away from the Afghan border toward India on Friday amid tensions following the Mumbai attacks, intelligence officials said.

The move represents a sharp escalation in the standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors and will hurt Pakistan’s U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and Taliban taking place near Afghanistan’s border.

Two intelligence officials said the army’s 14th Division was being redeployed to Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. They said some 20,000 troops were on the move. Earlier Friday, a security official said that all troop leave had been canceled.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Indian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Friday with the chiefs of the army, navy and air force to discuss “the prevailing security situation,” according to an official statement.

An Associated Press reporter in Dera Ismail Khan, a district that borders the Afghan-frontier province of South Waziristan, said he saw around 40 trucks loaded with soldiers heading away from the Afghan border.

India is blaming Pakistan-based militants for last month’s attacks on Mumbai. Islamabad has said it will cooperate in any probe, but says it has seen no evidence backing up India’s claims.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947. They came close to a fourth in 2001 after suspected Pakistani militants attacked India’s parliament. Both countries rushed troops to the disputed Kashmir region but tensions cooled after intensive international diplomacy.

The neighbors have said they want to avoid military conflict this time around, but Pakistan has promised to respond aggressively if India uses force, an option the Indian government has not ruled out.

Pakistan has deployed more than 100,000 soldiers in Waziristan and other northwestern regions to fight Islamic militants blamed for surging violence against Western troops in Afghanistan.

The United States has givens millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan’s army to fight the militants in the region, which is believed to be a hiding place for Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida leaders.

A senior security official refused to comment directly on Friday’s troop movements, but said, “Necessary defensive measures have been taken, they are in place and Pakistan’s armed forces are prepared to tackle any eventuality.”

He asked his name not be used, citing the sensitivity of the situation.

Georgia, US to ink strategic accord on January 04: Tbilisi

Georgia, US to ink strategic accord on January 04: Tbilisi

Strategic pact like that signed on December 19 with Ukraine

United States, Ukraine Sign Security Charter

NATO membership remains key U.S. priority, Rice says

Volodymyr Ohryzko and Condoleezza Rice (AP Images)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Ohryzko, left, and Secretary Rice sign a new U.S.-Ukrainian security accord.

Washington — The United States and Ukraine have signed a security charter that establishes areas of cooperation and reemphasizes NATO membership for Ukraine.

“Ukraine, obviously, is a very important partner for the United States and a good friend,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. “We have long believed that Ukraine’s independence, its democracy, is essential to a Europe whole and free and at peace.”

Rice and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko signed the United States–Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership and Security at the State Department on December 19. The document covers broad areas of cooperation, including economic development and defense, and European integration.

“The United States supports Ukraine’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures. And in that regard, I want to assure you that the declaration at Bucharest which foresees that Ukraine will be a member of NATO when it can meet those standards is very much at the center of our policy,” Rice said.

Ohryzko said this year has been intensive for Ukraine and the United States, including visits by each president and international meetings.

“This is a very important document because it summarizes our efforts during the past year, but it also has a very important dimension for our future,” Ohryzko said.

The agreement, though not binding, increases cultural and people-to-people contacts and increases the presence of the United States in Ukraine, and in the Crimea, he said. The United States is planning a “diplomatic presence” on the Crimean peninsula near the Black Sea.

The strategic partnership is also intended, Rice said, to enhance regional security.

The text of the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership is available on the State Department Web site.

United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic


Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington, DC
December 19, 2008


The United States of America and Ukraine:

  1. Affirm the importance of our relationship as friends and strategic partners. We intend to deepen our partnership to the benefit of both nations and expand our cooperation across a broad spectrum of mutual priorities.
  2. Emphasize that this cooperation between our two democracies is based on shared values and interests. These include expanding democracy and economic freedom, protecting security and territorial integrity, strengthening the rule of law, and supporting innovation and technological advances.
  3. Stress our mutual desire to strengthen our relationship across the economic, political, diplomatic, cultural, and security fields.
  4. Confirm the importance of the security assurances described in the Trilateral Statement by the Presidents of the U.S., Russian Federation and Ukraine of January 14, 1994, and the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of December 5, 1994.
  5. Affirm the Priorities for U.S.-Ukraine Cooperation (Road Map) signed on March 31, 2008 and the commitments to a strategic partnership made by Presidents Bush and Yushchenko on April 4, 2005.

Section I: Principles of Cooperation

This Charter is based on core principles and beliefs shared by both sides:

  1. Support for each other’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders constitutes the foundation of our bilateral relations.
  2. Our friendship comes from mutual understanding and appreciation for the shared belief that democracy is the chief guarantor of security, prosperity and freedom.
  3. Cooperation between democracies on defense and security is essential to respond effectively to threats to peace and security.
  4. A strong, independent and democratic Ukraine, capable of responsible self-defense, contributes to the security and prosperity not only of all the people of Ukraine, but of a Europe whole, free and at peace.

Section II: Defense and Security Cooperation

The United States and Ukraine share a vital interest in a strong, independent, and democratic Ukraine. Deepening Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is a mutual priority. We plan to undertake a program of enhanced security cooperation intended to increase Ukrainian capabilities and to strengthen Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership.

  1. Guided by the April 3, 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration of the NATO North Atlantic Council and the April 4, 2008 Joint Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which affirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.
  2. Recognizing the persistence of threats to global peace and stability, the United States and Ukraine intend to expand the scope of their ongoing programs of cooperation and assistance on defense and security issues to defeat these threats and to promote peace and stability. A defense and security cooperation partnership between the United States and Ukraine is of benefit to both nations and the region.
  3. Working within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, our goal is to gain agreement on a structured plan to increase interoperability and coordination of capabilities between NATO and Ukraine, including via enhanced training and equipment for Ukrainian armed forces.
  4. Acknowledging the growing threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the United States and Ukraine pledge to combat such proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and dangerous technologies through adherence to international nonproliferation standards and effective enforcement and strengthening of export controls.

Section III: Economic, Trade and Energy Cooperation

The United States and Ukraine intend to expand cooperation to enhance job creation and economic growth, support economic reform and liberalization, develop a business climate supportive of trade and investment and improve market access for goods and services. Recognizing that trade is essential for global economic growth, development, freedom and prosperity, the United States and Ukraine support the following initiatives:

  1. Welcoming Ukraine’s accession to the World Trade Organization on May 16, 2008, the parties held the first U.S.-Ukraine Trade and Investment Council meeting on October 2, 2008 in Kyiv. As discussed at the meeting, the United States continues to support Ukraine’s efforts to implement its WTO commitments. Other areas in which we plan to accelerate our efforts include expanding market access, resolving outstanding disputes and promoting intellectual property rights. Acknowledging the importance of increased investment to economic growth and development, the United States supports Ukraine’s efforts to enhance investor protections.
  2. Recognizing the importance of a well functioning energy sector, the parties intend to work closely together on rehabilitating and modernizing the capacity of Ukraine’s gas transit infrastructure and diversify and secure Ukraine’s sources of nuclear fuel making Ukraine less dependent on foreign sources of nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel storage.
  3. Following the Roadmap of Priorities for U.S.-Ukraine Cooperation, the United States and Ukraine intend to launch the work of the Bilateral Energy Security Working Group. Consistent with the U.S.-EU Summit Declaration of June 10, 2008, the United States and Ukraine intend to enhance a trilateral dialogue with the European Union on enhanced energy security.
  4. Actively developing cooperation with Ukraine’s regions, including Crimea, the United States supports Ukraine’s plan to promote security, democracy and prosperity through expanded economic development, energy conservation, food security, and good governance initiatives. The United States and Ukraine also intend to cooperate in the area of public-private partnerships in regions of Ukraine aimed at supporting small and medium enterprises.

Section IV: Strengthening Democracy

Strengthening the rule of law, promoting reform of the legal system and of law enforcement structures and combating corruption are all of key importance to the well being of Ukraine. We intend to work together to support reform, democracy, tolerance and respect for all communities.

  1. The United States and Ukraine will enhance their cooperation on efforts to strengthen the judiciary, increasing professionalism, transparency and independence as well as improving legal education and improved access to justice for all Ukrainians.
  2. Through enhanced law enforcement and judicial branch relationships, the United States and Ukraine plan to address common transnational criminal threats such as terrorism, organized crime, trafficking in persons and narcotics, money laundering, and cyber crime.
  3. Recognizing the importance of combating corruption, the United States and Ukraine intend to increase cooperation that will expand media and public monitoring of anti-corruption efforts; enforce ethical standards by establishing internal investigation units; and streamline the government regulatory process.
  4. The United States and Ukraine plan to work together to promote reform in Ukraine’s legislative processes through increased transparency, heightened accountability through citizen and media access, and expanded public information about the work of Ukraine’s parliament.
  5. Recognizing the importance of harmonizing Ukraine’s criminal justice system with European and other international standards, we plan to work together more intensely on issues of key importance, including the adoption of a Criminal Procedure Code compliant with Council of Europe standards.
  6. The United States plans to provide Ukraine with further technical assistance to support Ukraine’s efforts through government and judicial authorities to combat human trafficking, including strengthening witness protection.
  7. The United States supports increased assistance to strengthen democracy building and good governance in order to build upon Ukraine’s political progress and commitment to democratic development.

Section V: Increasing People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges

The United States and Ukraine share a desire to increase our people-to-people contacts and enhance our cultural, educational and professional exchange programs that promote democracy and democratic values and increase mutual understanding.

  1. Recognizing the vital importance of increased contact between the people of the United States and Ukraine, both sides intend to promote further cultural and social exchanges and activities through initiatives such as the Fulbright program, Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX), Undergraduate Exchange (UGRAD), Legislative Education and Practice (LEAP), the International Visitor Leadership Program, the English Language Teaching and Learning Program and the Open World Program.
  2. Stressing the necessity of innovation and dynamism to the future of our two countries, the United States and Ukraine intend to promote increased cooperation in higher education and scientific research. The United States will facilitate these exchanges consistent with U.S. laws and procedures so that qualified individuals in cultural, educational and scientific activities are given the opportunity to participate.
  3. Our two countries will continue to cooperate closely to promote remembrance and increased public awareness of the 1932-33 Great Famine (Holodomor) in Ukraine.
  4. Ukraine welcomes the United States’ intention to establish an American diplomatic presence (American Presence Post) in Simferopol.

Signed at Washington, D.C. on December 19, 2008.

For the United States of America:

For Ukraine:

Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Volodymyr Ogryzko
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Georgia Conflict Part II (Israeli Arms Sales and Pipelines to Ashkelon)

“Israel also provides training for Azerbaijani security and intelligence services, as well as security for the Azerbaijani president during his foreign visits. Israel might have also set up electronic listening stations along the Caspian Sea and Iranian border…Israeli military have been a major provider of battlefield aviation, artillery, antitank, and anti-infantry weapon to Azerbaijan.’

[See Oil and Israel]



Why Azerbaijan Has No Full Diplomatic Relations

With Israel

Azerbaijan and Israel has a developed relationship on the economical and political spheres and Israel consider Azerbaijan as its important strategic partner in the region. But despite of the developed relationship between these states Azerbaijan has no full diplomatic relation with Israel. This factor has a great impact on the relations between two states. During her interview with the Azerbaijani news agency Today.Az, Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni also addressed a statement to the Azerbaijani government that why Azerbaijani embassy has not been opened in Israel. For answering this question we have to look at the historical development of the relations between these two countries and analyze the reason why Azerbaijan has not opened its embassy in Israel.

Azerbaijan is the third Muslim country after Turkey and Egypt to develop bilateral strategic and economic relations with Israel. It established relations with Israel after gaining its independence in 1991. Azerbaijan is a secular state with eight million predominantly Shiite and ethnically Turkic population. But despite it is religious view, Azerbaijan has no anti-Semitic tradition in its history. Even from the late 19th century, Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, became one of the centres of the Zionist movement in the Russian empire and the first Havevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) was created here in 1891, followed by the first Zionist organization in 1899.

The movement remained strong in the short-lived Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) marked with the establishment of the Jewish Popular University in 1919, and a number of schools, social clubs, benevolent societies and cultural organizations. Even the Minister of Health, Dr. Yevsei Gindes, of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was an Ashkenazi Jew.

Following history we know that, Russia was one of the birth places of the anti-Semitism in Europe. Because of that reason, with the occupation of Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union in 1920, all Jews organizations in Azerbaijan were closed. Beginning in the 1960s, Azerbaijani Jewish community has experienced cultural revival. Jewish samizdat (Samostoyatelnoe Izdatelstvo-independent publication, during the Soviet Union there was such a publication, which had no connection to the state) publication began. Many cultural and Zionist organizations were re-established in Baku and Sumgait since 1987, and the first legal Hebrew courses and the first Jews Sochnut School in the Soviet Union was opened in Baku, in 1982.

Today the country has prided itself on its good relations with Israel and Jewish minority in the country. Azerbaijan is a home to some 11,000 Mountain Jews, residing primarily in Baku and Krasnaya Sloboda settlement in the Quba district of Azerbaijan. There are also nearly 5000 Ashkenazi Jews living mostly in Baku.

While looking at the relations of Israel with the Azerbaijan Republic, since its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has a good relation on the field of strategic matters, security, and trade, cultural and educational exchange with Israel. After independence of Azerbaijan, there were diplomatic negotiations over the exchange ambassadors between the two states. Eliezer Yotvat appointed as a first ambassador of Israel to Azerbaijan. But the embassy of Azerbaijan has not been open in Israel.

In October 2001, President of Azerbaijan, Haydar Aliyev pledged to open an embassy in Israel and sent his Foreign Minister to visit Israeli government. But until today Azerbaijan has not fulfilled its responsibility to open an embassy in Israel, because of some political events. Azerbaijan has said that, its complicated geopolitical situation, particularly its proximity to Iran, as well as its membership in international Islamic organizations, prevented it from opening a mission in Israel.

But despite all these, Azerbaijan-Israel strategic cooperation grows step by step; even Azerbaijani government has an unofficial representative, AZAL (Azerbaijan National Airline), in Israel.

Iran Islamic Republic was worry about the development of the relation between Azerbaijan and Israel. For that reason after Ilham Aliyev became the president of Azerbaijan in October 2003, Iran, the biggest threat for Israel in the Middle East, tried to improve the diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan in favour of cutting relations with Israel. Even several high-level Iranian military officers visited Baku in August 2004, intended Azerbaijan to cease security cooperation with Israel and stop receiving Israeli military and intelligence officers.

But for Azerbaijan to have relationship with Israel is much more important than Iran, because Israel was one of the strategic partners and supporters of Azerbaijan in Karabakh War with Armenia. As a result of Nagorno-Karabakh War, nearly 20% of Azerbaijan territory was occupied by Armenian troops and till today it has been under the control of Armenia. The war caused almost one million Azeris to flee from Armenia and the occupied territories. In this war Iran and Russia traditionally supported Armenia. When war broke out, Iran just remained largely neutral despite the fact that a large Shiite majority inhabited Azerbaijan.  Iran, a country ruled by Muslim Shiites, has an Azeri ethnic minority population living in the northwest corner of the country, known as “southern Azerbaijan”, totaling more than 25 million people, compared with a population in Azerbaijan of 8 million.  During the Nagorno-Garabagh conflict, Iran was suspicious that, support for Azerbaijan against Armenia would encourage for unification between the two “divided” Azerbaijan that had been separated by the Persian and Russian Empires since the 19th century. Because of these Iran supported Armenia against Azerbaijan. Even in April 1992, for example, Iran supplied natural gas and fuel to Armenia, which helped sustain Armenian action. Iranian-Armenian cooperation seems to be developed in future, and currently there are negotiations over the construction of Armenia-Iran railway and building a new gas pipeline. Iran is using Armenia as a potential buffer to insulate against the future rise of power of Azerbaijan.

But looking at the other side of the coin, in April 1993, in response to the Armenian occupation of Azeri lands, Turkey closed its border with Armenia. Throughout the conflict Israel also supported the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. According to London based Arabic language weekly al-Wassat, during Nagorno-Karabakh War Israel and Turkey have provided Stinger missiles to Azerbaijan. Even many Azerbaijanis expressed the hope that friendship with Israel may help resolve the continued Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and expatiate Azerbaijan’s integration with the West.

Israel also provides training for Azerbaijani security and intelligence services, as well as security for the Azerbaijani president during his foreign visits. Israel might have also set up electronic listening stations along the Caspian Sea and Iranian border. In sum, Iran and Armenia see that, cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel is a big threat for Iranian-Armenian relations, and also see Azerbaijan as a part of a geostrategic axis that also includes Turkey, historical “enemy” of Armenia, Israel, and Georgia. For that reason they want to disrupt that axis.

Another aspect of warm relations between Israel and Azerbaijan is currently evolving strategic partnership of both countries with Turkey and United States. By this cooperation, Azerbaijan and Turkey try to ensure the support of the Israel-American lobby for preventing the attempt of a small but powerful Armenian-American lobby to influence over the US foreign policy toward these countries.

During the visit of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in 1997 to Baku, the relations entered a new phase. Since that time Israel has been developing closer relations with Azerbaijan for modernizing the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. Israeli military have been a major provider of battlefield aviation, artillery, antitank, and anti-infantry weapon to Azerbaijan.

After 9/11 terror attacks Azerbaijan took side with America as an ally against world terrorism. Since that event a new sphere of cooperation has emerged in security with the US. Azerbaijan has provided an air corridor for American military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and has joined the US led coalition in Iraq. These events also improved the Azerbaijan-Israel relations strategically, because Israel is one of the major partners of the US in the Middle East.

The Azerbaijan-Israel Friendship Society facilitates and promotes bilateral diplomatic and business links. After the creation of the relations, economic cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan has been growing significantly. Attempting to deregulate industry and to create free market and liberal economy, attracted Israeli companies to Azerbaijani markets. Many companies have invested in the service sector. Bakcell, which was started as a joint venture between Ministry of Communication of Azerbaijan and GTIB (Israel) in early 1994 as a first cellular telephone operator in the country, can be good example.

According to the President of the Azerbaijan-Israel Business Forum, many Israeli companies also operate in energy sector of Azerbaijan. For instance, an Israeli based supplier of high technology to the energy industry, mainly oil and gas field, Modcom System Ltd. opened an office in Azerbaijan in 2000. According to UN statistical analyses, the exports of Azerbaijan have increased from US$2 million to $323 million between 1997 and 2004. Israel was the largest importer of Azerbaijani oil after Italy in 2002. There is a growing covert collaboration in the energy sector between Azerbaijan and Israel.

On June 5, 2005, the 14th Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition were opened in Baku. In his speech during the exhibition Arthur Lenk, Ambassador of Israel to Azerbaijan since April, 2005, talked about continuous trade between Azerbaijan and Israel in energy sector. “-Israel and Azerbaijan have close political and economical relations. The main thing is that Israel buys Azerbaijan’s oil through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Interstate relations are also strengthening and the ministries of the two countries pay mutual visits. Azerbaijani Economic Development Minister Heydar Babayev visited Israel in February, chief of State Committee for Azerbaijanis Living Abroad Nazim Ibrahimov in April and Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov visited Israel two weeks ago. Israeli Foreign Ministry official Joseph Gal has also visited Azerbaijan recently. Deputies Prime Minister – Minister of Strategic Planning Avigdor Liberman and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz will visit Azerbaijan in the second half of this year. Our positions coincide in most strategic issues. I think that the relations between Azerbaijan and Israel are of strategic character”.

The Ambassador also mentioned that, Israel could be strategic partner for selling Caspian oil to Asia through Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline. “-Over the past year, discussions have begun examining the feasibility of a pipeline corridor-with the possibility of carrying oil and natural gas from Turkey to Israel. Such a plan, if carried out, would extend the position of Azerbaijan crude oil to the edge of the Indian Ocean”, he said.

All these statement show that, Israel is seeking for possibilities of importing gas from the Caspian Sea region, because it is surrendered with oil reach countries, but has no chance to get it. Due to partnership with Azerbaijan is significant for Israel.

Coming to the future of the relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, it is quite unclear. Because as I mentioned above Azerbaijan is a member of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference), which created in 1969 in response to the defeat of Arab coalition in 1967 War (Six Day War) and one of main targetof the Organization was regaining of the holy lands, which was occupied by Israel after gaining its independence in 1947, with the UN Partition Plan (United Nation General Assembly Resolution 181).

Today, Arab World demanded withdrawing of Israel from the sacred places according to the United Nation Resolution 242 and 339 (According to these Resolution Israel has to withdraw till the 1947 borders). Azerbaijan also supports this plan in the favour of Arab World. Even in resent Israel Lebanon War Azerbaijan was one of the eight OIC states, which sent an ultimatum to Israel for stopping violent action in Lebanon. Azerbaijan also agreed to send peacekeeping forces to Lebanon.

Developing diplomatic relation with Israel will provoke Iran against Azerbaijan, in a period of escalation of Iran-America-Israel relation. That is a great threat for the security of Azerbaijan. Because Iran several times declared that, if the US declares war against us, the first target will be the US allies in the Middle East. Today the tension between America and Iran is very high, and Israel is one of the big supporters of America in this issue and the first target of Iran. Developing full diplomatic relations with Israel can damage the relations with one of the most important neighbours of Azerbaijan. For that reason balancing policy can be good diplomacy during this period.

But following all of these factors Azerbaijan has good economic and cultural relations with Israel. Even, according to Azerbaijani officials, Azerbaijan plans to open a trade office in Israel, which will represent the Azerbaijani government in Israel. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Minister Elmar Memmedyarov also added that “having full diplomatic relations will happen for sure”.

Israel investors are interested not only in the energy sector, but also in agriculture, Azerbaijan’s largest employer and second largest sector after oil. And Azerbaijan is a tolerant state, and ready to develop good relations with any country, as long as, these relations will not damage its security, national interests and also international prestige.