Azerbaijan, the oil-rich ex-Soviet republic on Iran's far northern border, has, say local sources with knowledge of its military policy, explored with Israel how Azeri air bases and spy drones might help Israeli jets pull off a long-range attack.Even with the use of Azerbaijan airfields, Israeli aircraft may have to fly through Syria. If Iran thinks that an overflight through Syria is possible, Iran's support of Syria's regime may be a means of making sure that Syrian air defenses are manned and used against Israel.
That is a far cry from the massive firepower and diplomatic cover that Netanyahu wants from Washington. But, by addressing key weaknesses in any Israeli war plan - notably on refueling, reconnaissance and rescuing crews - such an alliance might tilt Israeli thinking on the feasibility of acting without U.S. help.
It could also have violent side-effects more widely and many doubt Azeri President Ilham Aliyev would risk harming the energy industry on which his wealth depends, or provoking Islamists who dream of toppling his dynasty, in pursuit of favor from Israel.
Yet despite official denials by Azerbaijan and Israel, two Azeri former military officers with links to serving personnel and two Russian intelligence sources all told Reuters that Azerbaijan and Israel have been looking at how Azeri bases and intelligence could serve in a possible strike on Iran.
"Where planes would fly from - from here, from there, to where? - that's what's being planned now," a security consultant with contacts at Azeri defense headquarters in Baku said. "The Israelis ... would like to gain access to bases in Azerbaijan."
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
More on How Israel Might Attack Iran
I had recently speculated how Israel might attempt to carry out an attack against Iran. Given the logistical problems of such an attack, I had suggested as a possibility that Israel might attempt an attack from Russia or one of the former Soviet republics to the north of Iran. Israel may have been looking at this option. Reuters reports (h/t Instapundit):