October 21, 2008

So Much for Azerbaijani Democracy

Last week Azerbaijan conducted another rigged election just a few short months after several government officials said to my face that this time things would be different.

Advisors to President Ilham Aliyev insisted that observers from the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe would fan out all over the country to monitor the election and even stop the process entirely if they detected fraudulent activity. All this was confirmed by the Israeli ambassador. Yet Aliyev was just

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 21, 2008 11:06 AM
I admire many Azeris I've met while studying in Turkey, but have never been to this intriguing nation. From your time there, how much is the attempted Armenian Anschluss of Nagorno-Karabakh + Lachin Corridor an effective shield from criticism of the Baku regime's lack of opening up to real reform. Al Jazeera English did a great piece on journalism stifling in Azer a couple months back, really eye opening. My understanding is that Aliyev has been criticized for his past playboy lifestyle when many Azeris were getting killed fighting seperatism. I think the real tragedy here is that the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic had such a rich legacy and the heirs to its founders-- Musavat-- are now totally marginalized. I've read in Yo'av Karny's work about the Lezgin question, which seems to have dissapated. IWPR has been useful in discussing the sometimes restive Talysh minority as well. Does more democracy embolden sub-identities within the larger Azeri nation state or is it the current regime that's more wary of these groups? I wish Azerbaijan the best, it has been a principled and consistent supporter of international law on territorial integrity questions across the board. While I understand why Karabakh Armenians will be hard to re-integrate, she should not give up the struggle to regain such important cultural cities as Shusha, with such importance to the Azeri spirit.
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 21, 2008 2:39 pm
Micheal a quick question:
with all that oil money, why can't he buy the election honestly :-). I mean spend to buy votes by building roads, hospitals, job creation, pensions, schools etc. etc. It seems very irrational to run the elections this way when he can play the incumbency card like politicians anywhere (see USA) do. He is in power and controls the purse.
Is the opposition that strong or is that insecure?
Opening the democratic process a bit can take so much pressure of them, and they should still win.
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 21, 2008 8:00 pm
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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