In early October, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia held Eternity 2021, a five-day military exercise to enhance military capabilities and protect strategic energy infrastructure in the South Caucasus. This exercise coupled with one held in September between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan have created friction among regional players and militarized regional rivalries, according to the accompanying passages. Both exercises drew the attention of Iran and Russia, which view such joint military activities as a threat to their interests in the region.

As security news site al-Monitor reports, growing military cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia has led some observers to make assumptions about an emerging trilateral security bloc. The author states that cooperation between these countries, coupled with Azerbaijan’s growing ties with Israel, rattle Iran because it worries that Azerbaijan—with the support of Israel—may seek to redraw borders by annexing a southern border strip from Armenia that would link Azerbaijan’s mainland to its enclave, Nakhchivan, thereby severing Iran’s land border with Armenia. Cutting Iran’s land access to Armenia and the northern Caucasus would have direct economic and geostrategic implications for Iran, and strong Israeli and Azerbaijani defense cooperation puts Iran under threat from the north. Iran has already accused Israel of a military build-up and containment strategy from the southwest. For its part, Russia also is unhappy with the military activities in this region and has called on countries to avoid provocative military exercises.

The second article from Turkey’s state-owned news agency, Anadolu Ajansı, provides insight into the earlier trilateral military exercise, known as Three Brothers 2021, which was held in Baku by Special Forces from Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan in September 2021. The objective was to exchange the experience and views between militaries of these countries and facilitate further improvement of professional training.

The military rapprochement between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, coupled with growing military ties between Azerbaijan and Israel, seems to be ringing the alarm bells in Iran…

Source: Metin Gürcan, “Geopolitical rivalry in Caucasus gets militarized” al-Monitor (a globally read security news site with regionally based reporting), 07 October 2021.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey began five days of military exercises this week to enhance their preparedness to protect regional economic projects. The Eternity 2021 exercises, which kicked off in Georgia Oct. 4, aim to develop capabilities on both command and staff level to ensure the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, according to the Georgian Defense Ministry.

The growing military cooperation between the three countries has led observers to question whether a trilateral security bloc is emerging in the Caucasus.

The military rapprochement between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, coupled with growing military ties between Azerbaijan and Israel, seems to be ringing the alarm bells in Iran…

Azerbaijan’s joint military exercises with Georgia and Turkey are of great importance in terms of improving security cooperation, increasing interoperability between their militaries, dominating the airspace of the Caucasus, securing energy pipelines, limiting Armenia’s land connection with Russia and surrounding Armenia geographically from the west, north and northwest.

Joint military exercises between Azerbaijan and countries neighboring Iran also point to a shift in the strategic balance in the Caucasus. Israel’s strong defense cooperation with Azerbaijan is a clear indication that Iran is now under threat from the north.

A possible operation by Azerbaijan to control a strip connecting Nakhchivan to Nagorno-Karabakh and then mainland Azerbaijan, thus disabling Iran’s direct land passage to Armenia, would cause many stones to be moved in the Caucasus.

Also, Iran has been carefully monitoring Israel’s alleged increasing military and intelligence profile in the Caucasus as well as northern Iraq, wary that it could end up contained from both the north and the southwest…

At the geopolitical level, Russia has been keeping Turkey and Azerbaijan at bay, while trying to keep Armenia under its full domination and defuse Iran’s concerns. However, Russia’s balancing policy is hardly sustainable, given the fragility of the Nagorno-Karabakh deal and the increasing geopolitical complexity in the Caucasus due to the power game between Turkey, Iran and Israel.

Source: Ruslan Rehimov, ““Üç Kardeş 2021” tatbikatının “Seçkin Gözlemci Günü” yapıldı (Distinguished Observer Day of Three Brothers 2021 exercise held)” Anadolu Ajansı (Turkey’s state-owned news agency), 20 September 2021.

The “Distinguished Observer Day” of the joint military exercise conducted by the special forces of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was held with the participation of Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, Head of State Security Service Ali Nagiyev and Turkish Special Forces Commander Major General Ömer Ertuğrul Erbakan.

After the briefing given to the ministers and commanders, the soldiers participating in the exercise carried out tasks such as search operations in the area of responsibility, controlling the detected objects, destroying the representative enemy’s management zones, and transmitting the representative enemy coordinates to the center for artillery and aerial shots.

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