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Monday, June 21, 2010

Squandered Influence I became interested in Azerbaijan after serving with an Azerbaijani Army unit in Haditha, Iraq.  They were very nice men and very disciplined soldiers and I enjoyed working with them.  When I returned to the US I very briefly stayed in contact with one Captain, though we have lost touch after only a few emails and I would occasionally peruse the English language website, Today.Az.  I also wrote a paper on comparative law that centered on Azerbaijan and its relations with Europe and the West, and their past associations with the Soviet Union. In the past, the articles on the website tended to be about the US bases that were being planned, the ongoing struggle to get their oil to the west, and relations with Europe and the US.

Now, the tables have turned.  Today I see the same old articles proclaiming their belligerence and hatred of Armenia, but now they have a different flavor.  One article is about the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russian and Armenia meeting in St. Petersburg.  Another is about the Russian company, Gazprom, offering to buy all of Azerbaijan's oil.  Still another is about how they might adopt Islamic banking practices.  

It seems to me that Azerbaijan no longer considers the US or Europe to be reliable.  They are caving in to the threatening stance of Russia.  They were quite open about wanting to disassociate from Russia after three quarters of a century of domination and abuse, but now they are getting cozy again.  

Our new hopey changey foreign policy has squandered an opportunity to gain faithful allies in the Caucasus region.  I wonder if they will trust us again.