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Baku-Washington relations deteriorate

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 27
Recently it has become quite evident that a black cat has run between Baku and Washington. The usual explanation for this is the principled rejection by Baku of the idea of Ankara and Yerevan cooperating and opening their borders without settling the Karabakh conflict and Azeri territory being liberated from the Armenian occupation forces. Some Azeri analysts however think that this is not the main reason, as Azerbaijan mainly agrees with the Madrid Principles suggested by the OSCE Minsk group, which rejected Yerevanís concept.

Azeri analyst Eldar Namazov thinks that the US and Azeri leaders agree on this issue in particular. Furthermore international business understands very well that because of Azerbaijanís geostrategic location and its reserves of oil and gas nothing viable can happen in this region without Bakuís participation. Therefore Baku's opinion should be seriously considered in all respects and the White House understands this.

Some analysts suggest that the main reasons for the strained relations between the two countries are the limiting of US radio transmissions in Azerbaijan, human rights abuses, the arrest of journalists and other restrictions on democracy. The White House has many times stated that countries which are not clearly democratically oriented cannot become reliable partners for the USA. This is not only a philosophical position but a practical reality.

Political analyst Namazov thinks that there are some human rights problems in Azerbaijan and if there is no democratic progress in the country the influence of the USA and EU will diminish. In a newspaper interview Namazov has stated that confronting USA will not yield positive results for Azerbaijan and drawing closer to Russia will not compensate for losing the USA as an ally.

The Azeri leadership has always been concerned by the US's position towards it but relations became even more strained at the beginning of March 2010 when The Washington Post published an article about properties purchased by Ilham Aliyev and his family around the world. It stated that 11-year old Heydar Aliyev, son of Ilham Aliyev, has bought nine houses worth USD 44 million and Ilhamís daughters Leila and Arsu own real estate worth USD 75 million. The newspaper also stated that Aliyev's salary as President of Azerbaijan is USD 228,000 per annum but this money is not sufficient to make such acquisitions. Chairman of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan Ali Kerimli has stated that everyone knows that Azerbaijan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.