Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests Page: 3 of 6
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Contributions to the Global War on Terrorism
After the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Azerbaijan
quickly granted blanket overflight rights and intelligence support and offered the use of
its bases for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan. It participated in
coalition peacekeeping in Afghanistan beginning in late 2002 (33 Azerbaijanis were
deployed there as of early 2005). The State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism
2003 reported that Azerbaijan also stepped up its interdiction efforts against terrorists and
equipment transiting its territory and moved against indigenous terrorists and terrorist
financing. Azerbaijan was among the "coalition of the willing" countries that openly
supported the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). It offered the use of its airbases
and assistance in re-building Iraq. In August 2003, Azerbaijan contributed 150 troops to
the coalition stabilization force for Iraq (as of early 2005, 150 Azerbaijani troops were
deployed in Iraq). NK Armenians and U.S. diplomats have censured some statements by
Azerbaijani officials calling for international "counter-terrorism" actions against NK.
Foreign Policy and Defense
President Ilkham Aliyev has emphasized good relations with the neighboring states
of Georgia and Turkey, but relations with foreign states have often been guided by their
stance regarding the NK conflict. Relations with neighboring Russia have been poor until
recently (see below) and remain cool with Iran. Azerbaijan views Turkey as a major ally
against Russian and Iranian influence, and as a balance to Armenia's ties with Russia.
Ethnic consciousness among some "Southern Azerbaijanis" in Iran has grown, which Iran
has countered by limiting trans-Azerbaijani contacts. Azerbaijani elites fear
Iranian-supported Islamic fundamentalism and question the degree of Iran's support for
an independent Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a founding member of GUUAM (formed by
the first initials of the members - Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and
Moldova). GUUAM has discussed energy, transport, and security cooperation, perhaps
partly in an effort to counter Russian influence. Azerbaijan is a member of the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation group, the Council of Europe (COE), the Economic Cooperation
Organization, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Tensions with fellow
member Iran have been displayed during meetings of the latter two organizations, and
with Armenia during meetings of the former two.
Giving in to Russian pressure, Azerbaijan joined the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) in September 1993, but it never ratified the CIS Collective Security Treaty
and in 1999 refused to re-sign it. Frictions in Azerbaijani-Russian relations include
Azerbaijan's rejection of Russia's proposals for a predominantly Russian peacekeeping
force in NK and its allegations of a Russian "tilt" toward Armenia in NK peace talks. In
1997, Russia admitted that large amounts of Russian weaponry had been quietly
transferred to Armenia, and in 2000, Russia transferred heavy weaponry from Georgia to
Armenia, fueling Azerbaijan's view that Russia supports Armenia in the NK conflict.
Russia long raised objections to Azerbaijan's efforts to build oil and gas export pipelines
bypassing Russia. In 1999, Russia accused Azerbaijan of failing to halt the transit of arms
and mercenaries to Russia's breakaway Chechnya region. Azerbaijani-Russian relations
appeared to improve in 2002 when the two states agreed on a Russian lease for the Soviet-
era Gabala early warning radar station in Azerbaijan and they reached accord on
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Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests, report, March 4, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc808556/m1/3/: accessed November 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.