Taking advantage of Putin’s Russian imperialist attack on Ukraine, Azerbaijan has ethnically cleansed the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. As this article from the liberal Israeli paper Haaretz shows, Isreal has provided much of the arms to Azerbaijan to launch this attack. There is little likelihood of the Israeli government taking up Hareertz’s demands to provide any meaningful assistance to Armenian refugees. Bowing to the need to maintain an an anti-Iran alliance with Azerbaijan and meeting the needs of the Israeli arms industry takes priority. But Hareetz’s  exposure of Israel’s bloody role throughout the Middle East is nevertheless to be welcomed.


Armenian refugees flee Nagorno-Karabakh

Nearly all the Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh have become refugees overnight, following a blitzkrieg by the Azerbaijani army which put an end to the district’s independence.

More than 100,000 victims of ethnic cleansing have had to abandon the towns and villages their families have lived in for generations, fleeing to Armenia across the border. More than 100 years after the Armenian holocaust under the Ottoman Empire, members of this small nation are again running for their lives in fear of occupation and oppression.

However, Azerbaijan was not alone in this campaign. Israel supplied Azerbaijan’s army with the best and most advanced weapons that enabled the cleansing operation. This included surface-to-surface missiles, offensive drones, guided rockets, air defense systems, artillery, mortars, tank upgrading equipment, assault rifles, naval vessels, anti-tank missiles, and, obviously, cyber and espionage tools.

As reported in Haaretz (March 6), Israel allowed an airlift from the Uvda airbase to Azerbaijan to carry huge amounts of armaments and ammunition, on their way to the Nagorno-Karabakh front. Unlike other customers of Israel’s defense industry, who wish to keep their relations with Israel under wraps, Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev actually enjoyed boasting about his blue-and-white weapons systems.

Now that the results of the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh are evident to everyone, it’s appropriate to ask the heads of Israel’s defense industries and all the people who supported, aided and enabled the billion-dollar deals with Aliyev: How do you feel when you see Armenian families running for their lives, the terror in the eyes of children, the new refugee camps in Armenia?

Do Michael Federman (Elbit Systems), Yuval Steinitz (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems) and Amir Peretz (Israel Aerospace Industries) see the ethnic cleansing and the horrific war crimes, or just the bottom line of the companies they head? Do they feel any empathy toward the victims or are they engaged only in calculating the dividends their investors will receive, the royalties paid to the government and the bonuses they’ll be paid? What passes through the head of Rachel Klein, the director of the Defense Exports Control Agency, who spearheaded a “reform” that loosened the regulation of such exports? Is she happy that all the forms were correctly filled, or does she feel a twinge in her heart?

Aliyev is not the first tyrant whose army relies on weapons from Israel. He was preceded by the heads of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the generals in Argentina, Pinochet in Chile, the regime in China and the Shah of Iran. Azerbaijan supplies oil to Israel and helps it in its confrontation with Iran.

And yet, despite these precedents and the strategic justifications, Israel’s partnership in the ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh requires a change in Israel’s export policies, and the curbing of sales to aggressive dictatorships. Israel must also provide aid to Armenia to help the country absorb the refugees.