Saturday, April 29, 2006

More kissy kissy with dictators: Ilham Aliev

This is an interesting story that got lost at the end of the week, what with all the hubbub about singing the national anthem in English and Rush Limbaugh getting arrested and all...

Yesterday W. met at the White House with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev. This is a big deal for a dictator like Aliev to have a meeting with the president of the United States, I should think. W. said they had a frank discussion and that:

"And we talked about the need to -- for the world to see a modern Muslim country that is able to provide for its citizens, that understands that democracy is the wave of the future." [WH]

That's a funny way to describe a regime that's more or less a family run Kleptocracy which rutinely sends the cops out to bust up opposition protests.

Human Rights Watch says:

"Azerbaijan has a long history of unfair and corrupt elections and of using politically motivated arrests to silence critics and opposition politicians. International observers uniformly deemed the November 2005 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan to be neither free nor fair. Observers documented harassment of opposition supporters, intimidation of observers, tampering with election results and ballot-box stuffing."

But, I guess, it's good to know that Aliev "understands that democracy is the wave of the future." Just like the Saudis do, right? Just give them time.

This visit couldn't have anything to do with all our new military bases in the Caspian region and a possible attack on Iraq could it?

Last year the Russian daily reported that "Uzbekistan's decision to close the US base strengthened Azerbaijan's positions in these talks as President Ilham Aliyev could now demand the lessening of pressure on his government ahead of the November parliamentary elections." [armeniandiaspora]

But before meeting with Bush that, Aliev said , "Azerbajian will not be engaged in any kind of potential operation against Iran." Maybe, the "frank discussion" part of the meeting was about that? A lot of liberal bloggers are thinking we'll be using our news bases in Azerbajian to attack Iran, but that would be suicidal for the Aliev regime because there are more Azeris living in Iran than there are in Azerbaijan itself. [Cornell]

I think this has more to do with Aliev just keeping his mouth shut if we attack and keeping that crude flowing...and not getting too friendly with Putin in Russia. Where's that crazy shouting Azeri lady when you need her?


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