Despite His Denials, Aliyev is Upset By International Criticism of Azerbaijan

By Harut Sassounian

Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan repeatedly states that he ignores all international criticisms 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, Europeans institutions or international courts, he 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 with his harsh criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron for supporting Armenia. Aliyev has refused to meet with Pres. Macron and 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.

Late last year, the Azerbaijan-France confrontation got 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 his 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 it wanted on one hand 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 on Iran. The French Agency has also been mobilized over the situation in Gaza.

The new director of 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 el-amma); Ronen Bar, head of Shin Bet, Israel’s Internal Security Agency; William Barnes, head of the CIA; and Qatari officials.

Intelligence Online importantly 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 pressures on Azerbaijan, despite his denials of not paying any attention to them.

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