Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ilham Aliyev

Last week, the Christian Science Monitor ran a story on Ilham Aliyev's regime in Azerbaijan focusing on the gap between the promise of the country's oil wealth and economic realities and political oppression. The article is right about corruption in the country, and I don't expect that or political reform to come any time soon. I think, however, that the article overplays popular discontent with Aliyev, who seems to be really popular with a broad swathe of the public. His father, Heydar Aliyev, is credited with ending the Karabakh War, and much like Gulf monarchies, the regime gets to ride the wave of the energy-related economic boom.

That said, the statement that Azerbaijan has never been a democracy is inaccurate. For a brief period after World War I, Azerbaijan, which had earlier been the womb of Turkish nationalism, was an independent democracy featuring universal adult suffrage.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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