“Israel-Azerbaijan relationship relies on unholy trinity of oil, arms and intelligence”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz published on April 11 a revealing article about the extensive high-level links between Azerbaijan and Israel, titled: “How Strategic Relations with Azerbaijan Became the Business of the Lieberman Family.” The article was written by investigative reporter Gur Megiddo.

Avigdor Lieberman is a high-ranking Israeli government official who has made multiple trips to Baku, more than any other Israeli politician, meeting each time with Pres. Ilham Aliyev and other high-ranking Azeri leaders. He served twice as deputy prime minister of Israel and became minister successively at six different ministries: National Infrastructure, Transportation, Strategic Affairs, Foreign Affairs (twice), Defense and Finance.

Lieberman is not the only Israeli official who has traveled to Azerbaijan. Israel’s defense ministers Benny Gantz and Yoav Gallant have also visited Baku, in addition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016 and President Isaac Herzog in 2023.

Megiddo stated that “the Israel-Azerbaijan relationship relies on an unholy trinity of oil, arms and intelligence. Israel buys oil from Azerbaijan (about half of Israel’s crude oil originates there), and sells it advanced military equipment. In return, Azerbaijan reportedly gives it access to its land and sea border with Israel’s number one rival: Iran.”

Azerbaijan was victorious in the Artsakh wars of 2020 and 2023, “thanks in no small part to game-changing weaponry supplied by Israel,” including the Israeli Hermes and Harop drones and other sophisticated weapons bought for billions of dollars. “Azerbaijan purchased some of these drones while Lieberman was Defense Minister,” the article says.

Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman, 2018 (Wikimedia Commons)

During Lieberman’s visit to Baku in 2012, he was asked about a Foreign Policy magazine article that quoted a senior U.S. government official as saying, “The Israelis have bought an airfield, and the airfield is called Azerbaijan. The names of several former Soviet air force bases were mentioned that, according to the magazine’s sources, were or would be placed at Israel’s disposal in anticipation of a possible airstrike” on Iran. Lieberman called the story “science fiction” that has “no connection to reality.” However, The Times of London reported that the “Israeli espionage agency Mossad has a base in Azerbaijan.”

“By any standard, Azerbaijan is a dictatorship” ranked 130th out of 167 countries by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2023. A delegation of four Israeli Knesset members led by Lieberman went to Azerbaijan ostensibly to oversee the presidential elections. They dismissed the reports of irregularities in the elections that Aliyev won with a whopping 85-percent. They falsely described Azerbaijan as “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Lieberman called Aliyev’s victory “a good lesson for some forces who, unjustly, criticize Azerbaijan.”

When Israeli-Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin was arrested and jailed in Baku for visiting Artsakh, his family asked then-Defense Minister Lieberman to intervene, but he did not lift a finger, even after Lapshin was attacked by the prison security personnel, trying to kill him. Lapshin believes that the Russians ultimately helped secure his release.

Megiddo reported that Lieberman’s two sons – Amos and Kobi – have a “deep business relationship” with Azerbaijan’s government. “The Lieberman brothers, it turns out, spend a lot of time in Baku, where they are considered intermediaries who know how to open doors to the government. In recent years, Lieberman’s sons have marketed a number of Israeli high-tech products to the government of Azerbaijan: a cyberoffense product made by the cybersecurity company Candiru; a big data system for improving tax collection by another cybersecurity firm, Rayzone; and water desalination technologies by the Israeli company IDE. The potential commissions from brokering these three ventures alone could reach millions of dollars. Additionally, until recently, the Lieberman brothers represented Azerbaijan Airlines (the national flag carrier controlled by the state) in Israel.”

Several Israeli firms like Pegasus and Candiru sold spyware to Azerbaijan to hack the phones of the regime’s opponents. Today, 18 Azeri journalists are in jail. The Candiru sale was mediated by Lieberman’s two sons in exchange for a commission “estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.” From a deal with cyber firm Rayzone, they earned “a commission of about $200,000,” according to ‘TheMarker,’ published by Haaretz. Lieberman’s office stated that “he is not involved in his children’s businesses.”

Lieberman’s children also represented IDE Technologies, which is planning on building a large water desalination facility in Azerbaijan. This is “a project whose cost may reach hundreds of millions of dollars – and the commission for the Lieberman brothers would presumably rise accordingly,” Megiddo wrote.

Megiddo wondered: “Do you think the two sons would have attained such significant status with the Azerbaijan government if not for their family connection?” A businessman was quoted as saying: “I can say about the Azerbaijanis that they’re the kind of people who know how to say thank you. If you do good things for them and they appreciate you – they know how to say thanks, both in words and deeds.”

Megiddo concluded: “There’s probably no one within the Israeli establishment who would dispute the many benefits Israel derives from its ugly but perhaps vital relationship with Azerbaijan. But there is no contradiction between these two statements: the warm relations with the morally dubious rule of President Ilham Aliyev can be part of an Israeli national security strategy, and at the same time also part of the Lieberman family’s business strategy.”

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. In time the fact that Azerbaijan has more animus towards Armenia than Iran will lead to a cooling of ties. Israel is attracted to Azerbaijan due to its animus with Iran and weapons form an important part of the exchange but Azerbaijan it seems isn’t desiring confrontation with Iran but Armenia. Also worth noting is that Armenia doesn’t recognise Palestine only Israel yet Azerbaijan and Georgia who have much better relationships with Israel than Armenia both recognise Palestine. This seems to be a case of poor judgement by Yerevan perhaps was seeking common ground over genocides and mindful of the Armenian community in Israel whereas Georgia and Azerbaijan don’t have a diaspora in Israel of any significance. Perhaps also Armenia found it hard to recognise Palestine when it never really recognised Arktash as doing nothing seems to be a trait. Even when Armenia was very much must “ask Moscow first” in its policies it didn’t recognise Palestine when Russia as from the Soviet Union recognised Palestine in 1988 and presumably Armenian SSR did so as the Soviet Union controlled the foreign policy and upon independence didn’t reaffirm this?

  2. In this article you a picture of an evil person who will have to answer to God for all the suffering he has wrought on innocent people.

  3. -the above article is good forensic analysis for one of situation that Armenia is in today; and
    -the reasons are but not limited to a weak Armenian PM with no communication skills, obsessed with democracy word and opening roads, being Patsy for others’ agendas in the region.

    -Further there is the Armenian FM with always in listening mode and blank face who travels on call for thousands km just to be told that Armenia must keep negotiate, compromise, uphold laws and DEMOCRACY to get support….

    Armenia has many strong compatriots all over the world for its advancement and does not need conditional assistance from foreign countries. further Armenia MUST know THAT AFTER GOOD WILL ASSISTANCE TO Turkey after last earthquake in Turkey, the roads is still closed to Armenia, you do not need to beg, further Turkey said to Armenia not to come /call us until you give us direct corridor to China !!.

    The PM looks like he made his prime effort to please Azeri by giving away few kilometers of land and family homes and thinking a peace will achieve without the Corridor Turkey wants.PM and gov/Media are under foreign instructions behind this -and many- projects where the PM is the willing patsy and acting quickly and recording its actions for his own future protection?. PM does not understand by now [after many leap services in support of Armenia and Artsakh] that Armenia is double-crossed for achieving no results, further he was told directly [on the records] by a western leader that he is a “brave” person, which means a fool person in this context.

    NB. A report just said that Azeris demolished an old Armenian church in Shushi so what PM, Church leaders and other political parties will do in response to this genocidal intend and action in international forums?

    finally again we need more forensic articles in support of Armenia by all writers and moreover to send them to relevant Armenian Authorities, members of political parties, Armenian consulate, Armenian journals for advice proper actions.

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