While many people in the West may not realize it, the road to destroying the mullahs in Tehran runs through Baku. In the wake of Iran’s aggression against Turkic speaking peoples inside of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Turkic world is beginning to unite against the mullahs in Tehran and move increasingly towards Jerusalem. In recent days, Azerbaijan decided to open up an embassy in Israel, after arresting an Iranian spy ring within its borders and actively protesting Iranian aggression alongside the country’s border.
Around the same period of time, Turkey has more or less reconciled with the Jewish state, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are strengthening their relationship with Israel, and there is much potential for the Jewish state to build a strong alliance to counter Tehran that will include over 200 million people in the Turkic speaking world. Throughout this entire process, Azerbaijan has a key role to play in uniting Jerusalem together with the Turkic world, as Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is beloved among Turkic speaking people across the world.
At the 9th Summit of the Organization of Turkic states in Samarkand, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev proclaimed: “Azerbaijan has always contributed to the close unity of the Turkic world and will continue to be committed to the goals of the unity of the Turkic world. The Turkic world covers a vast geography inhabited by more than 200 million people and has great economic potential, energy resources, transportation routes and advanced military capabilities. The Turkic world is a large family. Taking each other’s national interests into account, we must continue to show mutual support and solidarity. The Turkic world does not consist of independent Turkic states only; its geographical boards are broader.”
According to him, “I believe the time has come to permanently keep in mind issues such as preventing the assimilation and protecting the rights, security and national identity of our compatriots living beyond the countries that are members of the Organization of Turkic states. The young generation of the Turkic world should have the opportunity to study in their mother tongue in the countries of their residence. Unfortunately, a majority of the 40 million Azerbaijanis living outside Azerbaijan are deprived of these opportunities.”
Azerbaijan’s President at this conference essentially called upon the other Turkic countries to unite against Iran’s repression of ethnic Azerbaijanis living in the Islamic Republic. Among the Organization of Turkic Countries, his words have a lot of weight and influence, and they are already pushing the Turkic world to be ripe for the formation of a bloc against Tehran.
Of course, there is still work to be done to transform this anti-Iranian sentiment within the Turkic world into an alliance with Jerusalem. Turkish Jewish journalist Rafael Sadi claimed, “In order to establish a coalition against Iran, first we have to establish a realistic friendship and economic cooperation with those countries. The Turkic coalition is not yet built between Turkey and those Turkic countries. The reason is that some of them still engaged in a closed economy and had political ties with Russia.” However, in the wake of the Ukraine War, this is starting to change, as Russia has lost much of its prestige and this has led these post-Soviet Turkic republics to move away from Moscow and to look more inwards towards each other, and to look at Israel as a potential partner.
Rafael Nabizade, an Azerbaijani activist based in Israel, noted: “The relations between Israel and the Turkic world cover many spheres. Both sides strongly cooperate in the security and economic fields. Azerbaijan, which is considered one of the key allies of the Jewish state, enjoys 30 years of unbreakable relations and is aimed to deepen its cooperation by opening its embassy in Israel. Israel backed Azerbaijan during the Second Karabakh War and contributed a lot to the restoration of the Karabakh region after the war. Turkey, a mighty state, recently normalized and exchanged ambassadors for the first time in years. I have to mention President Ilham Aliyev’s role in mediating the relationship between Ankara and Jerusalem. Iran, the southern neighbor of Azerbaijan, consists of the Turkic power bloc as a threat to itself.”
Yusuf Siyret Aktan, a law professor at Istanbul Gedik University and a member of the Advisory Board of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy, stated that Iran is a prison for the Iranian people yet the disintegration of Iran creates a power gap in Central Asia that should be filled up by Azerbaijan and Israel: “Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation creates a strong energy and trade corridor in the region connecting the Mediterranean and Central Asia via the Caspian Sea. It will offer free markets as an alternative to the countries of the region. Those countries today have no other choice than what Russia and China offer them. Terrorism cannot survive for a long time when there are economic expectations. Economic freedom leads to all human rights.”
Fariz Ismailzade, the executive vice rector of Ada University, added: “There is already a strong history of cooperation between Turkic countries and Israel. For example, the more than thirty years of independence for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan demonstrate a very good relationship with Israel in all fields: political, economic, humanitarian, military, and of course, Turkey has for centuries had great cooperation with Jewish people. In the twentieth and twenty-first century in the State of Israel, this cooperation has expanded. In fact, Turkic countries are among the few countries in the world which have not only hosted Jewish people during turbulent times of war but have built a diplomatic relationship with Israel. In the future, this will continue. I think that there is a great potential for cooperation for greater peace in the region. Turkic countries recognize the State of Israel and do not have any animosity. I believe that this will continue in the future.”
Professor Nursin Gunay, a member of the Advisory Board of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy, concurred, adding that the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey is only the beginning: “Turkish and Israel rapprochement is very important. Even during the Mavi Marmara times, the economic relations continued in a normal manner. And now, the two sides are approaching one another. So, they both have ambassadors and it will be influential regarding a new alliance in the region. Turkic states organization is also very important and Turkey is part of it. So, if Israel gets closer to these countries, it will make headway. I believe the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey will be a win-win for both sides.”
Considering these developments, the time has come for the State of Israel to start to build an anti-Iran coalition together with the Turkic countries. These countries can in turn incircle the mullahs in Tehran and be used as a base to help the South Azerbaijanis secede from Iran, obtaining their freedom and independence once again. They can also help the Turkmen in Iran to do likewise and create a momentum that will lead to many nations seceding from Iran, thus causing the disintegration of a nation that routinely chants “death to America” and “death to Israel,” and is developing nuclear weapons in violation of international law.
The disintegration of Iran will in turn lead to the weakening of Russia and China in Central Asia, as a pro-Western anti-Iran coalition will move in to fill the power void in Central Asia, thus strengthening moderation and reason across the region, leading to peaceful coexistence and fruitful cooperation between Israel and other Turkic countries. Thus, the sky’s the limit regarding the bright future prospects between Israel and the Turkic states, with the opening of a new Azerbaijani Embassy being only the beginning that will kindle a flame that will light up the entire Middle East and Central Asia.
Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”