Armenia got a dressing-down from the U.S. for selling arms to Iran, Azerbaijan has reservations about embarking on a U.S.-sponsored military "train and equip" program and also would oppose the U.S. fomenting unrest in Iran's ethnic Azeri regions. Those are some of the early revelations, from world of Eurasian security issues, in the first tranche of the latest Wikileaks data dump.
One State Department cable from December 2008 describes how in 2003 Armenia "facilitated Iran's purchase of rockets and machine guns," and those weapons were later found to have been used in an attack in Iraq by Shiite militants that killed one U.S. soldier and wounded six others. According to the cable (via The Guardian):
The direct role of high-level Armenian officials and the link of the weapons to an attack on U.S. forces make this case unique and highly troubling. These transfers may provide a basis for sanctions pursuant to U.S. legal authorities. We propose a series of steps that Armenia will need to take to prevent future transfers, which will be weighed in the consideration of sanctions. We hope to use the threat of sanctions as a tool to generate Armenian responsiveness so that we will not be forced to impose sanctions measures.
The cable also relays a letter from then-Deputy Defense Secretary John Negroponte to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, threatening sanctions if Armenia doesn't clean up its act:
Notwithstanding the close relationship between our countries, neither the Administration nor the U.S. Congress can overlook this case. By law, the transfer of these weapons requires us to consider whether there is a basis for the imposition of U.S. sanctions. If sanctions are imposed, penalties could include the cutoff of U.S. assistance and certain export restrictions.
Given that sanctions haven't been imposed, one would assume that Armenia did what the U.S. asked.
Another cable, from February of 2010, describes how Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns proposed that the U.S. military could train and equip an Azerbaijani battalion, but that President Ilham Aliyev was concerned about how it would look if the troops were being trained only for deployment in Azerbaijan. So he is apparently driving a harder bargain than Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has accepted U.S. training under those conditions. From the cable, again via The Guardian:
U/S Burns asked for the President's support to continue our discussions about a battalion-sized contribution of troops to Afghanistan that would include a U.S. train and equip program. The President said that he is aware of this initiative and his foreign and defense ministries are working on it. He said that the fundamental problem is one of ""optics,"" claiming it was difficult for him politically if it looks like the Americans are only training Azeri troops to send them off to Afghanistan. He said that it would be easier if half of those trained would be sent to Afghanistan, while the second half would remain in Azerbaijan or be used for other purposes. U/S Burns noted that the President's suggestion would create problems involving the U.S. funding of the training. The Charge proposed that as an initial step, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry staff observe the training of Georgian troops headed to Afghanistan by U.S. Marines. The President thought this was a good idea and instructed his aide to look at this suggestion.
And while Aliyev apparently pays much attention to the history and current situation of the large Azeri minority in Iran, and resents what he described as Iranian meddling in Azerbaijan, he does not want the U.S. to stir up any trouble there, according to another cable from June 2009:
Aliyev strongly implied that the Iranian General raised alleged "foreign-sponsored" efforts to foment unrest among Iranian ethnic groups, including Iranian Azerbaijanis (who make up nearly thirty percent of the Iranian population)...
U.S. military participants agreed that Aliyev appeared to be implicitly signaling that outside fomenting of unrest in Iranian Azerbaijan is opposed by the GOAJ. Aliyev similarly told the U.S. officers that any foreign war with Iran will be bad for Azerbaijan, and result in a flood of refugees entering the country.