Azerbaijan

In which I try to find interesting news from Azerbaijan, and fail.


So, I tried to look back at what’s been happening in Azerbaijan the past 6 weeks, but most of the news just boils down to oil and security. There were some pieces on democratisation and its opposite, but apart from [some minor elections](http://eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav051606.shtml) they tended to be fluffy and lacking content. As for culture, the best I’ve come across is the silliness of even Azeri muslims [protesting about the Da Vinci Code film](http://www.bakutoday.net/view.php?d=20948)
Obviously next time I need to look harder for interesting news, but for now its energy and killing…
###The oil bit
The opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is still causing repercussions – the [Eurasia Daily Monitor](http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2371038) muses on the implications. Also a splurge of shorter and content-lighter pieces of news – [talk of an Azeri-Israeli deal](http://en.rian.ru/world/20060607/49159931.html), and the [importance](http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/business/articles/eav061906.shtml) of Kazakhstan’s willingness to make use of the pipeline.
[Here](http://eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav042706.shtml) is an interesting figure:

Oil and gas accounted for less than 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s industrial output a decade and a half ago. Today, it represents more than 60 percent, as well as more than half of Azerbaijan’s budget revenue – figures that are both rising.

Now, how much is that down to oil prices, how much to a growing energy industry, and how much to the post-Soviet collapse of the rest of the country’s economy?
###The security bit
Over the border in Iran, a [militant group is formed](http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=18295) to defend the rights of Azeris. This comes out of the [protests over an anti-
Azeri cartoon being printed in an Iranian state newspaper](http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=7306)
A few Azeri opposition figures are stoking trouble by [praising the rebels](http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav060106.shtml), but the government is wisely keeping its mouth shut. Iran already claims that foreign instigators are behind the protests; if it retalliates against Azerbaijan, it has a decent chance of undermining their government. Trouble with Iran is part of the reason why [Azerbaijan’s government is more secular than its population](http://azerbaijan.neweurasia.net/?p=75).
Meanwhile the other Iran business, that nuclear kerfuffle, is getting Azerbaijan [a little more international attention](http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/5/e38c8377-f9ee-4813-824c-7bb475829ecd.html)
Other things potter along: another planned [summit on Nagorno-Karabakh](http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2371132) with Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh has a [knock-on effect](http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2371043) on Azerbaijan’s foreign relations. Since 1992, US law has prohibited direct aid to Azerbaijan from the American government, on the grounds of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Bush has been waiving this since 2002, and both he and Aliyev want to see it permanently removed.

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