An eye-opening trip to a strategically important, if often overlooked, nation.
In a recent eye-opening tour of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a group of prominent journalists, including the author, Dov Yarden, COO of JNS, discovered a country with a unique blend of diversity and homogeneity. Nestled strategically between Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan’s geostrategic significance cannot be overstated.
Tensions with neighboring Iran have intensified, prompting a call for the U.S. to cultivate relations with Azerbaijan to counter Iranian influence. The country’s religious tolerance, where synagogues and mosques coexist, sends a powerful message.
Azerbaijan sits at the heart of the China-Central Asia-West Asia Corridor, connecting East Asia with Georgia, Turkey, and Europe. Initiatives like the Trans-Caspian East-West-Middle Corridor are reviving the ancient Silk Road.
Its stance on the Russia-Ukraine War is notable. While supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Azerbaijan avoids antagonizing Russia. Its alliance with Israel has grown stronger, marked by embassy openings in both countries.
The U.S.-Azerbaijan relationship, focused on energy security, trade, and counterterrorism, could benefit from a more visible presence, including a strategic alliance and tourism promotion.
Azerbaijan’s oil and gas sector is the cornerstone of its development, and a Sovereignty Fund could attract investment for broader development. With an abundance of food and water, the country could play a vital role in regional food security.
While grappling with historical trauma and uncertainty, Azerbaijan seeks Western influences to boost individual motivation and economic aspirations. Accelerated cooperation between Azerbaijan and the West holds promise for mutual benefit.
This visit underscores Azerbaijan’s potential as a key destination for tourism, investment, and international friendship, further strengthening the ties between the nation and the Western world.