What do Israelis think of Azerbaijan?

German military trucks in Azerbaijan: Definitely a Mercedes

Despite the arms embargo, Daimler trucks reached Azerbaijan with Israeli guns. Germany shows little willingness to enlighten.

Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart: How do German military trucks get to Azerbaijan? Photo: Marijan Murat / dpa

BERLINtaz | The military trucks of the Azerbaijani army are clearly visible this time. In a new YouTube video, 1:14 minutes long, the Ministry of Defense in Baku shows its trucks from all angles. An ignition key can be seen, the Mercedes star, a Bulgarian-made telescopic sight and an Israeli gun on the loading area. From second 57 onwards, the five trucks can be seen lined up in a row. Then the test shooting begins. Boom!

Does anyone in the Azerbaijani government have that taz read? The video was released by the Ministry of Defense of the Caucasus Republic on April 23 - exactly six days after the taz had reported for the first time that the country apparently owns military equipment from German-Israeli production. This was indicated by a few truck recordings that go back to 2012 and that research by the environmental and peace organization Greenpeace had previously found on the Internet.

The new video, full of details, confirms the assumption made in April. These are clearly Daimler trucks, painted in camouflage colors, equipped with mortars from the Israeli manufacturer Elbit Systems, model Cardom. This is tricky because an authoritarian regime is in power in Azerbaijan and the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh border region keeps flaring up. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) therefore has an arms embargo against Azerbaijan.

It is unclear how the trucks got there anyway. The Daimler Group, which not only produces for the civilian market, but also has vehicles with military equipment on offer, assured in April that it had not sold any armaments to Azerbaijan when asked. How the trucks got there from the videos cannot be understood.

One trail leads to Israel

An obvious possibility is that Daimler initially sold the trucks to Israel - in civilian or military versions. The company Elbit Systems possibly converted them there, equipped them with their Cardom wallets and delivered them on to Azerbaijan.

This is supported by the fact that a “Cardom” logo is affixed to the truck doors as evidenced by the new video. Such a deal would also fit into the picture: the Israeli arms industry regularly supplies weapons to the Azerbaijani army - with the approval of the government in Jerusalem.

"The German government's lack of willingness to provide information is frightening," complains Greenpeace

Elbit Systems even dropped one recently from the taz Asked request unanswered. The Israeli government does not want to answer questions about the specific arms deal or about arms exports to Azerbaijan in general. And apparently neither the OSCE nor the federal government are pushing for clarification.

Israel is the official partner country of the OSCE and, by definition, would have to commit to its goals. On request, a spokesman for the organization merely stated that the partner countries only had to adhere to OSCE agreements “on a voluntary basis”. For further questions one should contact the governments of Israel and Azerbaijan directly.

Federal government looks the other way

And the federal government? Did she mention breaking the embargo? To Daimler, to the governments in Jerusalem and Baku? “The German government regularly exchanges information with the Israeli government on questions of foreign and security policy. There are regular political consultations with Azerbaijan ”, write the Federal Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Economic Affairs in a joint answer to this question. They are not more specific.

For Alexander Lurz, Greenpeace expert on arms exports, this is not enough. "The federal government's lack of willingness to provide information is frightening," he says. "It is no small matter when German military equipment suddenly appears at one of the world's most tense borders." As the minister in charge, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) has to provide clarification.

Incidentally, the Daimler trucks are not stationed very far from the border Lurz speaks of. They can be seen again on another video, also published by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense. The experts from Greenpeace compared the buildings in the background with satellite images. You are sure that it is a military base near the city of Aran - the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region is only around 25 kilometers away.