America Needs Strategic Partners like Azerbaijan

    Luke Coffey

    Politics, Middle East

    (R-L) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev walk during a meeting in Tehran, Iran

    Azerbaijan is the only country in the world that borders both Russia and Iran, and it is capable of playing the role of the honest broker.

    Azerbaijan, a small but important country located in the South Caucasus on the Caspian Sea, deserves more attention from U.S. policymakers.

    U.S.-Azerbaijani relations date back to the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, during the early and short-lived days of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

    A few years after meeting with the Azerbaijani delegation at the peace conference, President Woodrow Wilson recounted the event during a speech delivered in San Francisco:

    Well, one day there came in a very dignified and interesting group of gentlemen who were from Azerbaijan . . . I was talking to men who talked the same language that I did in respect of ideas, in respect of conceptions of liberty, in respect of conceptions of right and justice.

    Much has changed in the world since then, but Azerbaijan remains an important partner for the United States for a number of reasons.

    On the security front, Azerbaijan is making a meaningful contribution to the war on terrorism. It recently increased its troop presence in Afghanistan to 120 soldiers. While this might not sound like much, it exceeds the troop contributions of twenty-six other countries including NATO members like Spain, the Netherlands and Norway.

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