Two predominantly Muslim countries, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, seek to strengthen ties with Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres paid a rare visit to Azerbaijan, and Kazakh officials invited him to deliver the keynote address at today’s interfaith Congress of World and Traditional Religions.
Iranian delegates stormed out today, as Peres began his speech, and returned only after he finished, calling the Nobel laureate a “man of violence.” Tehran attempted to torpedo Peres’ Azerbaijan trip before it began, sending an Iranian military official to demand the meeting’s cancellation.
Despite Tehran’s best efforts, both central Asian nations continually strengthen their Israeli ties. As Professor Efraim Inbar notes, Jerusalem’s relationship with such countries might limit Iran’s influence in the region.