Azerbaijan’s election is a farce- Foreign Policy

11:11 • 12.04.18



By Richard Kauzlarich and David J Kramer


In the past few weeks, first in Russia and then in Egypt, leaders have used so-called elections to provide a patina of legitimacy for their grip on power. Russian President Vladimir Putin secured yet another term with nearly 77 percent of the vote; Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi did even better, nailing down 97 percent of the vote in Egypt. Neither of them deserved congratulations from Western leaders.


In both cases, the outcome of the election was known well before voters went to the polls, as any serious opponents were prevented from running and the cards were solidly stacked in favor of the incumbents. These were not real elections in any sense of the term.


The same is about to happen in Azerbaijan on April 11, in an election moved up from the original date of Oct. 17. There, too, we already know that President Ilham Aliyev, who has been in power since 2003 after succeeding his father, is guaranteed another term. Azerbaijan’s election is so rigged that key opposition parties refused to take part and instead organized a mass protest on March 31. Among other demands, demonstrators called for the release of the more than 100 political prisoners in the country.

 
Aliyev’s Azerbaijan tends to be forgotten due to the West’s obsession with Putin’s Russia, but his regime is one of the most corrupt and authoritarian in the region.


For years, during both Republican and Democratic administrations in the United States, Aliyev has been able to get away with such abuses. Unlike Putin’s Russia and Aleksandr Lukashenko’s Belarus, against which sanctions have been imposed for human rights abuses, Azerbaijan has escaped similar scrutiny from the United States and Europe. Nascent congressional efforts to pressure him, led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), have never become law. Azerbaijan has avoided sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, too, which the Trump administration implemented for the first time last December.


That’s because Baku benefits from being a significant oil producer and part of the northern supply route for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan portrays itself as a moderate Muslim-majority country in a challenging region, bordered by Russia and Iran and engaged in conflict with Armenia regarding the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Given the threats posed by Putin and the United States’ need for secure resupply routes to Afghanistan, some argue, America cannot afford to alienate Azerbaijan by pressing Aliyev on human rights.


But the policy of quiet diplomacy has failed. By giving Aliyev a pass for so many years, the U.S. government has done no favors to the people of Azerbaijan or to U.S. interests in the region. The United States and other Western countries have become enablers of Aliyev’s domestic policies, destroying any hope of democratic evolution, the advancement of human rights and religious freedom, the elimination of corruption, and the creation of a true strategic partnership with the United States.


The calling of snap elections for president on April 11 and the suppression of serious opposition to his regime should be the final straw. These moves have revealed the charade practiced for over two decades in Azerbaijan to the detriment of the Azerbaijani people and the country’s image in the world. President Aliyev advanced the date of the presidential elections at a moment when more than 100 political prisoners remained under illegal arrest and detention. One of the opposition politicians, Ilgar Mammadov, who would have opposed Aliyev, remains imprisoned despite international demands for his release. Sham elections with a manufactured slate of “candidates” cannot hide the fact that these elections move Azerbaijan closer to Putin’s model of a kleptocratic autocracy.


Aliyev has also launched a crackdown on freedom of expression, virtually snuffing out what little free speech existed before. Young people go to prison for their Facebook posts. An opposition journalist was kidnapped from neighboring Georgia. Members of Aliyev’s political party in the Azerbaijani parliament are calling for shutting down social media entirely. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America remain closed, and foreign nongovernmental organizations involved in democracy and human rights work have been forced out of the country while domestic NGOs who don’t toe the regime line have been shut down.


For all the rhetoric about economic reform and diversification, Azerbaijan remains a Soviet-style economy dominated by state- or oligarch-owned enterprises responding to presidential orders rather than market forces. Entrepreneurship is punished and not encouraged. Excessive reliance on oil and gas exports and a collapsed banking system ensure that the economy remains unreformed and undiversified.


The Aliyev government has yet to account for over $120 billionin earnings from offshore energy development. Prestige construction projects line the pockets of elites and their families, giving them villas on the Caspian seashore or high-end apartments in London while average Azerbaijanis live in substandard housing with inadequate medical care and poor education for their children. Azerbaijan’s leaders are looking out for themselves, not the country as a whole.


In the run-up to the elections, Aliyev’s government has also been beating the drums of war with Armenia. Large-scale, live-fire maneuvers continue, and the government has even labeled Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, part of Azerbaijan in an effort to rally citizens around the flag, just as Putin did with interventions in Ukraine and Syria.

 





Загрузка...

LATEST NEWSAll Today news

18:30 • 24/04

Ex France midfielder Henri Michel dies at 70

17:51 • 24/04

What happened to the Armenians? – Turkish columnist

17:02 • 24/04

How Trump could tell the truth about Armenian genocide – CNN

16:42 • 24/04

Azerbaijan's ruling families linked to secret investments via Maltese bank – The Guardian

16:23 • 24/04

Aurora Prize committee names three potential recipients of 2018 award

16:05 • 24/04

Karen Karapetyan hosts Russian-Armenian businessman  

15:14 • 24/04

Serzh Sargsyan's downfall 'not about geoppolitics' - Thomas de Waal

14:54 • 24/04

Genocide changed our people’s fate, but 'we proved really stronger' – Karen Karapetyan

14:29 • 24/04

Oscars Academy sets key dates for 91st ceremony

13:52 • 24/04

EU envoy pledges to step up ratification of CEPA

13:29 • 24/04

‘Historic day for Armenia’ – Kim Kardashian

13:18 • 24/04

Trump, Macron plant oak tree outside White House

13:10 • 24/04

Aliyev to visit Azerbaijan

12:50 • 24/04

Turkey will accept truth on Genocide 'sooner or later' - ARF-D member

12:02 • 24/04

Blue for a boy! London landmarks burst with light to mark the arrival of Kate and William's third child

11:28 • 24/04

Special ritual served in Tsitsernakaberd in memory of Genocide victims  

10:58 • 24/04

Memory of Armenian Genocide ‘refers to each of us’ - Emmanuel Macron

10:26 • 24/04

Eight cabinet ministers re-appointed

10:08 • 24/04

Today marks 103th anniversary of Armenian Genocide

09:10 • 24/04

Serzh Sargsyan yields to public pressure, resigns as PM amid opposition protests

18:27 • 21/04

President Armen Sarkissian says ready to meet with opposition leader  

17:48 • 21/04

Queen Elizabeth marks 92nd birthday with gun salutes in central London and a party at the Royal Albert Hall

17:03 • 21/04

Turkish Foreign Ministry says US remarks on early polls 'unacceptable'

16:41 • 21/04

RFE/RL journalist attacked during protest In Armenia

15:45 • 21/04

Algerian woman denied French citizenship for refusing to shake man’s hand

15:30 • 21/04

Bako Sahakyan issues 'call for unity' amid opposition protests in Armenia

15:21 • 21/04

‘Smallville’ actress arrested in self-help guru's NY sex traffic case

14:49 • 21/04

Serj Tankian: This movement is authentic and completely yours (video)

13:10 • 21/04

Serzh Sargsyan calls for urgent political dialogue 'to avoid irreversible losses’

12:41 • 21/04

Armenian opposition leader’s calls ‘unconstitutional’ – Russian analyst

11:24 • 21/04

Opposition rally: Day 9 (updated)

11:02 • 21/04

Saakashvili issues call for ‘urgent dialogue’ between Armenian authorities and oppositon

10:24 • 21/04

EU leaders issue congratulations to Serzh Sargsyan

10:00 • 21/04

US Democrats sue Trump, Russia and Wikileaks

09:37 • 21/04

North Korea 'halts missile and nuclear tests', says Kim Jong-un

09:26 • 21/04

North Korea 'halts missile and nuclear tests', says Kim Jong-un

18:11 • 20/04

Paylan calls on Turkish government to recognize Genocide  

17:19 • 20/04

Armenian president re-appoints more ministers

17:00 • 20/04

Bentley launches official representation in Armenia

16:12 • 20/04

This is a ‘revolution of technologies’ - Alexander Iskandaryan  

15:38 • 20/04

Budget 6.1-inch LCD iPhone lineup could start at $550

15:13 • 20/04

Ratification of EU-Armenia deal ‘unrelated to domestic political developments ’ – parliament official

13:34 • 20/04

US concerned about Turkey’s ability to hold transparent election

12:56 • 20/04

Ariana Grande unveils 'emotional single'

12:31 • 20/04

More protesters arrested as opposition rally continues

11:56 • 20/04

Police issue fresh warnings to participants of opposition rally

11:39 • 20/04

Turkish parliament committee ratifies election bill

11:23 • 20/04

Yerevan protests: Police continue arresting activists

10:39 • 20/04

Opposition rally: Day 8 (updated, photos)

10:29 • 20/04

OSCE/ODIHR Director urges Armenian authorities to protect and ensure right to freedom of peaceful assembly

10:09 • 20/04

Zhoghovurd: Foreign leaders do not make haste to issue congratulations to Armenian premier

09:35 • 20/04

Syria returns Assad award to France

09:15 • 20/04

Berlin set for mass evacuation as WW2 bomb is defused

17:55 • 19/04

Couple’s wedding reception goes up in flames when fireworks set the ceiling display alight and 300 guests have to flee the burning building

17:41 • 19/04

Young Armenian sambo athletes win 11 medals in European championship (photos)

17:04 • 19/04

Trump delivers Tribute to Barbara Bush in press conference speech

16:47 • 19/04

Robots master task of assembling Ikea chair  

16:12 • 19/04

Armenian president re-appoints three cabinet ministers

15:51 • 19/04

Medvedev congratulates Serzh Sargsyan on being appointed prime minister

14:56 • 19/04

Hollywood Studio chiefs hail opening of Saudi Arabia's first cinema

13:43 • 19/04

Latvian parliament ratifies EU-Armenia agreement

12:54 • 19/04

Syria crisis: Unexploded missiles ‘handed over to Russia’

12:46 • 19/04

Magnitude 5.9 earthquake strikes Bushehr Province 

12:14 • 19/04

Yerevan protests: Police urge journalists 'to keep reasonable distance’

11:55 • 19/04

2017 was unique year ‘without public protests’ in Armenia – Serzh Sargsyan

11:00 • 19/04

Glendale City Council approves Armenian American Museum project

10:49 • 19/04

2 killed, over 300 buildings damaged in Indonesia earthquake

10:05 • 19/04

Armenian opposition continues rally against prime minister (updated)

09:20 • 19/04

Top Japan official resigns over sex scandal

18:05 • 18/04

Russia vows ‘painful response’ to US sanctions

17:57 • 18/04

Turkey: Erdogan calls snap elections

17:36 • 18/04

Karen Karapetyan appointed Vice Premier

17:07 • 18/04

Azerbaijan not to use Russian missile system sold to Turkey – expert

16:34 • 18/04

Russia Today to face investigations over spy poisoning case

16:12 • 18/04

Iceland's Bitcoin heist suspect 'flees on PM's plane'

15:57 • 18/04

Run-away Dubai princes ‘brought back home’

15:52 • 18/04

Mexican mother-of-two, 43, named woman who was killed after being sucked out of Southwest 737 jet window after engine explosion

15:28 • 18/04

Facebook seeks facial recognition consent for European and Canadian users

14:08 • 18/04

Armenia will need extra aid in case of Azerbaijan-Belarus weapons trading – expert

13:18 • 18/04

Azerbaijani journalist wanted by Baku leaves Ukraine after months of uncertainty

12:52 • 18/04

Education Ministry urges political parties to avoid 'attracting teenagers to mass protests’

12:15 • 18/04

Opposition rally: Day 6 (photos, updated)

11:40 • 18/04

Zhoghovurd: Deepening West-Russia conflict to affect also Armenia

10:41 • 18/04

Israel conferred with US on anti-Syria strike

10:19 • 18/04

Yerevan protests: US Department of State urges for peace      

09:46 • 18/04

Artsakh serviceman fatally wounded in landmine explosion  

09:30 • 18/04

Syria 'chemical attack': Investigators await UN green light on Douma

18:28 • 17/04

Armen Sarkissian signs decree to appoint Serzh Sargsyan Prime Pinister

18:08 • 17/04

Prince William reveals he's a fan of NANDO'S after being introduced to the chain by one of his detectives as he gives a speech at a Commonwealth forum

17:14 • 17/04

Serzh Sargsyan elected Prime Minister of Armenia

16:46 • 17/04

Entrepreneur is raped and tortured in Russian jail, suffering a broken spine, electric shocks and stab wounds

15:32 • 17/04

More than 4,000 Emiratis seek to become UAE's first astronaut

14:53 • 17/04

Macron: EU in 'civil war' over democracy

14:08 • 17/04

Turkish court rules to keep US pastor in jail

13:49 • 17/04

Medieval Armenian cathedral to be reconstructed in eastern Turkey

12:52 • 17/04

Zhamanak: Kyrgyzstan’s membership in EEU to reduce privileges for Armenia

12:37 • 17/04

Hraparak: AUA encourages students’ attendance at public rallies

12:09 • 17/04

Armenian parliament opens special session to elect Prime Minister (updates)

11:47 • 17/04

Ombudsman's Office warns against excessive actions in public protests

11:01 • 17/04

Police sanction measures to disperse opposition rally in Yerevan