But following these “consultations,” the Shusha Declaration goes an important step further by declaring that “After determining through urgent discussions the volume and form of such possible assistance, a decision will be made to secure defense needs for the adoption of joint measures and coordinated activities will be organized of power-wielding and administrative agencies of the Armed Forces.”
Military, security, and economic cooperation is growing between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Media reports talk of the possible opening of a Turkish military base in Azerbaijan, which Russia has raised concerns about. Turkish companies are involved in rebuilding infrastructure in western Azerbaijan that was destroyed after three decades of Armenian occupation. The Shusha Declaration spells out future cooperation in developing military technology, joint military exercises, enhancing cyber security, and combatting terrorism against Turkey.
The fifth factor is Iran’s frustration with the outcome of the 2020 war that, following the return of occupied territory to Azerbaijan, reduced the Iranian-Armenian border to less than 50 kilometers. This provides Azerbaijan with a highly effective chokehold on Iranian road supplies to the Armenian separatist minority in Karabakh.
Until 2020, Iran’s trade with Armenian-occupied Azerbaijan had not incurred customs duties. Rising tensions came after Azerbaijan began imposing duties and inspecting cargoes. Iranian cargo is mistakenly labeled, perhaps deliberately, as destined for “Stepanakert, Armenia,” the capital of the former separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh which was returned last year to Azerbaijani control.
Azerbaijan is also “concerned that Iranian trucks might also carry military equipment, which could end up in the hands of Armenians.” During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, Iranian trucks sent military supplies to Armenian forces. Aliyev declared that “We have already had knowledge that Iranian trucks illegally entered the Karabakh region many times during and prior to the War.”
The United States should join Israel and support the Turkish-Azerbaijani-Pakistani axis as a counterweight to Iran and Russia in the South Caucasus and greater Middle East. This is strategically imperative after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban and the ascension of Iran’s anti-American president.
Taras Kuzio is a Professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and author of Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War published by Routledge in January 2022.