It was a sales call gone very wrong. At least that’s the allegation being investigated after an Israeli company was accused of attempting to bomb the Armenian military on behalf of Azerbaijan during a test run of a suicide drone.
Now, the Israeli Defense Ministry has frozen the export license of an Israeli arms manufacturer while it looks into the claims.
An Aug. 13 report from the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Maariv revealed that the Israeli Defense Ministry recently received an unusual complaint, detailing claims that a team from Aeronautics Defence Systems was asked to strike an Armenian military position while demonstrating its Orbiter 1K drone in a live-fire test on July 7 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The company was in the middle of finalizing the sale of the suicide drone to Azerbaijan.
The two Israeli drone operators on the trip refused to comply with the request, according to the report, so senior representatives from the company stepped in. They armed and deployed the drone themselves but missed the targets. An Armenian army colonel said two soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack.
The Orbiter 1K is known as a “suicide drone” — a small unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry payloads up to 4.4 pounds and fly directly into an enemy target, detonating a bomb and destroying itself in the process. Azerbaijan has allegedly used the Israeli suicide drones to attack Armenian troops in the past.
Aeronautics strongly denied conducting demonstrations against a live target, which is illegal under Israeli law. The Defense Ministry’s investigation is ongoing, but on Monday it suspended of the company’s sales and marketing to Azerbaijan.
The company says it was poised to make $20 million in trade with the country over the next two years. Shares of Aeronautics dipped 17 percent on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange after the company disclosed the freeze.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have long been at loggerheads over the mountainous breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which sits in Azerbaijan but has an ethnic Armenian majority. In the past two years, violent clashes at the border have escalated tensions, and both sides are building up their arms stockpiles.
Azerbaijan and Israel, close allies since the 1990s, frequently cooperate on security matters. Azerbaijan is also one of the main importers of Israeli military equipment.
In 2016, amid intense clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman took a clear side.
“We certainly support the people of Azerbaijan,” he told the Trend news agency, a month before he was named Defense Minister. “Azerbaijani leadership behaves in a balanced manner.”
Azerbaijan shrugged off the allegations against Aeronautics as a calculated fabrication. “Armenian military is desperately spreading false and fake news to justify its illegal occupation of Azerbaijani lands,” a spokesperson for the Azeri Embassy in Washington D.C. said. The Israeli and Armenian embassies did not respond to requests for comment.
Aeronautics, which could not be reached for comment, said in a letter to investors that it believed the license freeze was temporary while the investigation was concluded.
Statements by Azerbaijan’s president calling for a “return to historical lands” in Armenia have landed Baku in hot diplomatic water, with Russia and France pointedly calling out Baku for the provocative comments.
Speaking at a congress for his New Azerbaijan Party on February 9, President Ilham Aliyev referred to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, as part of Azerbaijan’s “historical land.”
“[To return Azerbaijanis there] is our political and strategic goal, and we need to work step-by-step to get closer to it,” he added.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was quick to respond.
The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a motion recognizing as genocide the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. According to Reuters, the bill passed although the government had said it would not become official policy of the Netherlands.
The motion, which was opposed by just three lawmakers out of 150, risks further straining relations between The Hague and Ankara, which have been tense since the Dutch barred a Turkish minister from campaigning in the Netherlands last year.
Turkey denies that the killings, which took place at the height of World War One, constitute genocide. Its foreign ministry strongly condemned the Dutch parliament’s approval of the motion and noted the Dutch government’s response to it.
The annual Corruption Perceptions Index, led by anti corruption organisation Transparency International TI gave Armenia 107th place among 180 countries
What does the index say TI uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean Armenia scores 35 It is an almost imperceptible increase compared to last year where the Republic scored 33 Ethiopia, Republic of Macedonia and Vietnam are on equal terms with Armenia According to the index more than twothird of countries score below 50, with an average score of 43
What about Armenia’s neighbours and top 3 Georgia is way ahead taking the 46th place Turkey is ranked 80th, Azerbaijan 122nd and Iran 130th Russia takes the 135th place New Zealand and Denmark rank highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively while Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively
Transparency International general conclusion Countries are making little or no progress in ending corr