Books on Azerbaijan
Update No: 330 - (30/06/08)
The Prince Hal of Azerbaijan
Somebody once said that everything was foreseen by Shakespeare, an exaggeration
of course, which the Bard would be the first to admit were he alive today. He
would be astonished by nuclear power, for instance, and much else. But not by
events in the Caucasus, which persist in having a Shakesperian ring to them.
Constant internecine strife, with sibling striking down sibling and mayhem
galore, characterised the English Middle Ages, culminating in the War of the
Roses. Something similar has occurred in the Caucasus, albeit with Tolystoyan
innuendos at that.
War and Peace are the dread themes. But the main figure is a new Prince Hal.
Born in late 1961, the Azeri president, Ilham Aliyev, is a transfiguration of
the son and heir of Henry 4th of England, whose seizure of the crown paved the
way for much that was to follow, the War of the Roses not least. He is a playboy
by nature, thrust into prominence by primogeniture.
He would much prefer to be swilling down the latest vintage in the company of an
Azeri Falstaff (if such is conceivable), and a bold filly or two, than be
settling down to grave matters of state. But grievious public problems are
He is now a sober statesman. But what next?
Prince Hal became memorable as Henry 5th by war, a great hero, after the battle
of Agincourt in 1415. Aliyev junior is certainly tempted by the same route.
Another Caucasus war is on the cards.
After all the Azeris have a very telling causus bellum - one sixth of their
country is in enemy hands.
With oil prices now in the ascendant, he has the means, an abundance of revenue.
The Azeris are buying arms from everywhere.
The other President Aliyev in the Caucasus
There is another Aliyev leader in the Caucasus, whose views merit attention,
Dagestan President Mukhu Aliyev. Dagestan is a loyal constituent republic of
Russia, which has none of the special reasons for hating the Russians that the
"Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a great tragedy and mediation by the OSCE
Minsk Group since 1992 has not yielded any result, RIA-Dagestan quoted him as
saying at the end of June.
He underlined that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan mustn't be
questioned. "After the Kosovo precedent to redraw borders in postwar
Europe, the territorial integrity of any country may be questioned. This is
unreason fraught with conflicts and wars. I am confident that the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be resolved through political means. The parties
need patience and wisdom in the negotiating process," he added.
Minsk process continues
The formal process of peace talks continues. The Azeri Aliyev on June 27
received in Baku the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen for Nagorno Karabakh conflict
regulation, as follows Bernar Fassier (France), Yuri Merzlyakov (Russia),
Matthew Bryza (US) as well as the Special Representative of the OSCE
Chairman-in-Office Adrzei Kasprzyk.
The trouble is nobody has anything new to suggest. There is an inexorable
momentum towards a renewed conflict, unless a statesman emerges on the Armenian
side. This is not happening. The new man in Yerevan, President Sarkassian, is as
hard-line as his predecessor, Kocharian. He refuses to contemplate a return to
pre-1994 borders, just as leading Israelis are intransigent about no return to
Expect bubble and trouble from the Caucasus.