Iran and Azerbaijan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation.
During a visit to Baku on January 17, 2019, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, inked a Memorandum of Understanding with Azeri Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov. Fars News Agency reported that Major General Baqeri conveyed Iran’s “support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and underlined the need for expanding cooperation in the fields of logistics and training as well as an exchange of military experiences.”
For his part, Defense Minister Hasanov noted that the two discussed the “highly important” topics and said that the two countries would enhance “mutual military cooperation to the highest level.”
Dialogue between the two countries lessens the prospect of tension as the U.S. seeks to isolate Iran. In October 2018, the U.S. national security adviser, John Bolton, traveled to the three Caucasus countries Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in an effort to put together support for squeezing Iran.
Moreover, Azerbaijan’s ongoing military procurement drive is geared toward its rivalry with Armenia and, while conflict between Iran and Azerbaijan is unlikely, Baku’s import of a range of Israeli military systems — particularly the LORA missile, which apparently possesses a range up to 400 kilometers — may be unnerving for the Iranian government, especially in light of the American pressure. In recent years, Azerbaijan has imported patrol vessels, anti-tank missiles, loitering munition drones, surface-to-air missiles, and surface-to-surface missiles from Israel.