Despite his denials, Aliyev is upset by international criticism of Azerbaijan

Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan repeatedly states that he ignores all international criticism regarding his violations of the human rights of his own citizens, war crimes by his soldiers and ethnic cleansing of Artsakh Armenians. Aliyev tries to cover up these violations and crimes through ‘caviar diplomacy,’ by providing billions of dollars in bribes to various European officials.

Anytime Azerbaijan has a problem with a foreign country, European institutions or international courts, Aliyev puts on a brave face and acts like nothing has happened. He repeatedly says, “I don’t care who says what. I will do what I want.”

I would like to cite a recent example of Aliyev being so bothered by such issues that, rather than ignoring them, has gone to unusual lengths to resolve them.

This example has to do with France. In recent months, Aliyev has been quite outspoken in his harsh criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron for supporting Armenia. Aliyev has refused to meet with Pres. Macron and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to discuss the Artsakh conflict. Aliyev also complained about France selling a number of armored personnel carriers to Armenia. While spending billions of dollars to arm Azerbaijan with the latest Israeli and Turkish drones and missiles, Aliyev dares to complain about Armenia procuring a limited number of arms to defend itself.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev met with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018 (Wikimedia Commons)

Late last year, the Azerbaijan-France confrontation became more heated when Azerbaijan expelled two French embassy officials from Baku, and in return France expelled two Azeri embassy officials from Paris.

The Intelligence Online website reported that, according to its confidential sources, Azerbaijan’s intelligence services asked Mossad, Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, to intervene with France to resolve their outstanding conflicts.

According to confidential Mossad sources, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Intelligence Service (XKX), led by General Orkhan Sultanov, asked its counterpart in Israel to intervene with the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE) of France to deescalate the tension between Baku and Paris. Azerbaijan indicated that it would not want to worsen the existing dispute.

However, the Azeri effort failed, as Mossad did not transmit the Azeri request to France, according to Intelligence Online sources. This was a delicate issue for Israel, as on the one hand it wanted to preserve its good relations with Azerbaijan, while on the other hand Israel’s intelligence agency did not want to attempt such mediation at a time when it was preoccupied with the conflict in Gaza and other Middle Eastern hot spots.

Intelligence Online reported that Mossad enjoys a high degree of influence over Baku, since Israel uses the Azeri territory for its operations in Iran. When Mossad stole Iran’s nuclear documents from Tehran in 2018, Israel’s agents used Azerbaijan’s border to flee from Iran. In return, Mossad greatly facilitated Azerbaijan’s acquisition of sophisticated weapons from Israel, which aided Baku, the second largest buyer of Israeli arms, to score victories in 2020 and 2023 in Artsakh. Just before the attack on Artsakh in September 2023, Azerbaijan’s security services informed the experts of Mossad and Unit 8200 (Aman) of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate of their plans and sought their advice.

According to Intelligence Online, Mossad has in recent years brought its cooperation with the French External Security Directorate to a higher operational level, notably in Iran. The French agency has also been mobilized over the situation in Gaza.

The new director of the French Intelligence Agency, Nicolas Lerner, met with David Barnea, the director of Mossad, when the latter came to Paris in the last week of January. Attending the closed-door meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue were Abbas Kamel, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (Mukhabarat al-Amma); Ronen Bar, head of Shin Bet, Israel’s Internal Security Agency; William Barnes, head of the CIA; and Qatari officials.

Intelligence Online reported that the CIA let Baku know that it was not pleased with Azerbaijan’s conflict with French Intelligence, while France is trying to hinder Moscow in the Caucasus and needs Azerbaijan’s platform.

Having exposed Aliyev’s deception about ignoring international pressure on Azerbaijan, my advice to the international community is to continue pressuring Aliyev to stop his unacceptable behavior. Otherwise, he will go on with his multitude of ever-increasing violations and crimes, causing great harm to Azeris and Armenians alike.

Next week, I will expose another one of Aliyev’s efforts to counter international pressure on Azerbaijan, despite his denials of not paying any attention to them.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

1 Comment

  1. This article points out the critical role that intelligence services play in the security of a country. The fact that Armenia did not have its own independent foreign security service before and during the 2020 war was a major cause of its defeat. Spying plays a critical role in assessing the enemies capabilities. On the other hand Azerbaijan did not hide its capabilities in the 2016 four day war in Artsakh; drone and other advanced technology was on full display. How did the Armenian government respond ? We don’t really know because the parliamentary report on that war is not widely available(ps if you have a copy please publish it !) I have only heard commentary by Dr. Gerard Libaridian that President Sargsyan tried to convince the Artsakh leadership to compromise and they refused, presumably because they had inaccurate assessment of the political/military situation developing in the South Caucasus.

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