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

18:10 • 20/09

Azerbaijan continues crackdown on civil society – Human Rights Watch

17:57 • 20/09

Cary Fukunaga to direct next James Bond movie

17:47 • 20/09

President Sarkissian visits Chinese Embassy in Yerevan

17:30 • 20/09

Zurich Protocols will 'never return' to Turkey's politcal agenda

16:55 • 20/09

European court orders Armenian government to pay €20,600 over violations in March 1 criminal case

16:50 • 20/09

No hasty plans to arrange Pashinyan-Trump meeting, says foreign minister

12:25 • 20/09

Ucom to offer more affordable roaming rate to subscribers visiting Russia

11:31 • 20/09

Adam Schiff and 8 US lawmakers urge Gov Brown to sign Turkey divestment bill

11:08 • 20/09

$60m worth digital currencies stolen from Japanese exchange

09:47 • 20/09

Zhoghovurd: Catholicos of All Armenians to step down 'for health reasons'  

09:28 • 20/09

US 'ready' to restart talks with North Korea

09:11 • 20/09

Japan foreign minister planning to discuss peace treaty with Russia’s Lavrov

18:13 • 19/09

Contract serviceman fatally wounded in Armenia’s north-east

17:50 • 19/09

Dunja Mijatović: Legal incapacity of individuals with disabilities 'challenge to their rights' in Armenia

16:18 • 19/09

IBM launches AI bias detector

15:52 • 19/09

Kocharyan explains reasons behind ‘political comeback’

15:08 • 19/09

Azerbaijan, Russia conduct joint drills in Caspian Sea

13:07 • 19/09

The Weeknd sued 'for at least $5m' for 'stealing' his hit song Starboy from another artist

12:36 • 19/09

EU 'ready to improve' Irish border deal

12:09 • 19/09

Trump hails 'exciting' agreements by North Korean leader

12:05 • 19/09

Turkish workers arrested after Istanbul airport protests  

11:30 • 19/09

Trump considers request for US military base in Poland

11:18 • 19/09

Jessica Simpson expecting third baby

11:06 • 19/09

Facebook accused of gender discrimination in job adss

10:34 • 19/09

We are ready for negotiations but must be prepared for war, prime minister says in Artsakh

09:24 • 19/09

Pentagon lists Russia, China as biggest threats to US

09:13 • 19/09

North and South Koreas ‘commit to era of no wars’

17:56 • 18/09

Armenian khachkar unveiled in Polish city

17:05 • 18/09

Armenian parliament official briefs PACE committee on Azerbaijani aggression against Armenian civilian settlements

16:55 • 18/09

Ucom doubles inclusions of uDaily prepay mobile internet service

16:35 • 18/09

Former Liverpool defender forced to retire with motor neurone disease just months after marrying England women's captain 

16:22 • 18/09

Armenia, China sign deal to facilitate air communication

15:40 • 18/09

Trump orders release of classified documents in Russia probe

15:24 • 18/09

Armenian government delegation conducts visit to Nagorno-Karabakh

14:51 • 18/09

Central Bank chief re-elected president of interstate bank council

14:40 • 18/09

Armenian defense minister meets with FAST foundation president

14:08 • 18/09

NASA's new spacecraft captures photo of more than a dozen celestial objects known to host exoplanets in stunning 'first light' image

13:45 • 18/09

Pakistan's austerity car auction falls short, new PM commutes by helicopter

13:25 • 18/09

Armenian family’s 400-year-old musical secret still rings true

13:17 • 18/09

Russia blames Israel for downing of plane, vows retaliation

12:45 • 18/09

Chief architect of Yerevan sacked

12:25 • 18/09

Republic Square selected as 'hot spot' of independence day events to symbolize success in ‘Velvet Revolution’

11:26 • 18/09

Libarman’s visit to Baku signals strengthening Azerbaijani-Israeli relations

11:09 • 18/09

Zhoghovurd: OSCE to turn closer spotlight on situation along Karabakh frontline

10:35 • 18/09

Russian military plane disappears during Israeli strikes on Latakia with 14 people on board

10:13 • 18/09

Zhamanak: Putin planning meeting with former presidents in Yerevan

09:56 • 18/09

SpaceX unveils first Moon Loop tourist

09:51 • 18/09

Sean Penn Calls #MeToo Movement ‘Receptacle of the Salacious’

09:44 • 18/09

Florence leaves 'monumental disaster' for North Carolina

09:31 • 18/09

Magnitude 1.9 earthquake hits Armenia’s south

09:13 • 18/09

SpaceX signs first private moon customer

09:12 • 18/09

Russia and Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria's Idlib

19:40 • 17/09

Facts, figures, and Results: Zvartnots International Airport reports details on its activity and not օnly

17:53 • 17/09

French actor Gerard Depardieu 'wants' to acquire Turkish citizenship

17:35 • 17/09

New head of OSCE Mission to Skopje takes office

17:23 • 17/09

Ukraine's Poroshenko terminates Treaty of Friendship with Russia

16:38 • 17/09

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 reportedly catches fire in user’s purse  

16:05 • 17/09

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Nagorno-Karabakh is not just conflict for Armenia

15:17 • 17/09

Turkish Coast Guard rescues 16 migrants as boat capsizes

14:46 • 17/09

Yerevan hosts 11th Armrobotics Championship

12:46 • 17/09

Britain’s oldest person reveals secret of longevity  

12:33 • 17/09

Arthur Abraham takes part in 45th BMW Berlin Marathon

12:02 • 17/09

Penelope Cruz dazzles in elegant one-shoulder gown as she joins husband Javier Bardem for LA screening of Loving Pablo

11:34 • 17/09

Armenian, Artsakh foreign ministers meet in Stepanakert

11:10 • 17/09

Turkey to increase troops in Turkish Cyprus

10:43 • 17/09

Elon Musk says Tesla now in 'delivery logistics hell'

10:14 • 17/09

Azerbaijan's armed forces open fire on Armenia’s south from Nakhicehvan

09:51 • 17/09

As Trump and Mattis clash in public, officials question how long he'll last at the Pentagon

09:37 • 17/09

It's not novichok, say police: 'Russian' couple fall ill at Salisbury restaurant with nerve-agent symptoms

09:15 • 17/09

New doubts emerge about US-led sanctions on North Korea

14:49 • 15/09

No more favoritism or privileged classes in Armenia - Pashinyan's interview with Le Monde

14:02 • 15/09

Kocharyan’s statements reflect level of his political understanding – Nikol Pashinyan

13:12 • 15/09

International Figure Skating Classic 2018: Armenia’s Slavik Hayrapetyan ranks fifth (video)

12:48 • 15/09

Erdogan travels to Baku  

12:07 • 15/09

Russian Orthodox church cuts ties with Constantinople over Ukraine

11:23 • 15/09

Zhamanak: Gyumri mayor 'to quit' over 'failure to work effectively' with Pashinyan's cabinet

10:49 • 15/09

Turkey demands release of 16-year-old boy held in Armenia

09:50 • 15/09

Jean-Claude Van Damme arrives in Armenia  

09:42 • 15/09

Nebraska doctor to face execution for killing four people

09:32 • 15/09

Azerbaijan shells border village in Armenia’s Tavush region

17:43 • 14/09

Jean-Claude Van Damme to visit Armenia

17:37 • 14/09

Apple criticized for new iPhones 'too big for women to hold'

16:27 • 14/09

French, Armenian leaders start working meeting in Paris

16:10 • 14/09

Armenian Genocide museum elects new director

15:26 • 14/09

Animals snapped enjoying surprise snowfall in South Africa

15:00 • 14/09

Armenian biker named double winner in Astana championship  

14:21 • 14/09

‘Velvet Revolution’ marked also revolution of values in Armenia – Nikol Pashinyan

12:49 • 14/09

Azerbaijan braces for military drills 'in response' to Armenia

12:05 • 14/09

Ucom to start pre-registration of iPhone XS and XS Max purchase

12:03 • 14/09

Amazon's Jeff Bezos commits $2 billion to help homeless, pre-schools

11:54 • 14/09

Hurricane Florence: Life threatening storm lashes US

11:09 • 14/09

Armenia 'important role-player' in global politics, prime minister says in France

10:01 • 14/09

US congressman raises call for Armenian Genocide recognition

09:31 • 14/09

Saroyan world premiere adds dates in Fresno and OC, announces encore L A performance

09:19 • 14/09

Gas explosions hit homes in Massachusetts

18:08 • 13/09

Mbappe better than Ronaldo, says De Vrij

17:42 • 13/09

We understand Armenian government’s desire to help compatriots in Syria - US Embassy

17:23 • 13/09

Meghan Markle pregnant? Bookies expecting baby announcement soon

17:06 • 13/09

US government encourages open labs in Armenia – embassy statement

16:36 • 13/09

Edward Nalbandian: Prime minister misleadingly accused former government of failure over Karabakh