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AZERBAIJAN


  
  

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 7,124 6,090 5,600 102
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 810 710 650 146
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 334 - (24/10/08)

Aliyev wins presidential election
In what is no surprise, President Ilham Aliyev was resoundingly re-elected on October 15, in an election that was condemned by the opposition as a complete charade. 

Azerbaijan is of course a dictatorship, run by the Aliyev clan, who hail from Nakichevan, the Azeri enclave between Iran and Armenia. They are intensely nepotistic. 

There was not the slightest chance of an upset. The opposition point rightly to a panoply of restrictions on media freedom that make a mockery of democracy. The cult of personality of Haidar Aliyev, Ilham's father and predecessor, makes dissent dangerous.

The official figures are obviously suspect, giving Aliyev a landslide. But even n on- governmental organisations (NGOs) gave Aliyev above 80%, while turn-out was reckoned to be between 68% and 73%, a very respectable performance by Western standards. 

Genuinely popular?
The government insists that Aliyev is genuinely popular. 

The galling thing for the opposition is that they may well be right. The economy has been booming on the back of an oil boom, with oil prices in the ascendant (though no longer), and GDP soaring at over 30% growth rates per year, unprecedented in history. Government h and-outs have risen accordingly, if not proportionally! 

The cream naturally goes to the family, the clan, and the extensive elite, who are skilled at corruption, export of capital and financial chicanery of every kind. It is not a question of trickle - down applying in Azerbaijan, but trickle-out of the country altogether. 

The crisis in Georgia
There is no doubt that the war in Georgia helped Aliyev look statesmanlike, by comparison with President Mikhail Saakashvili of that nation. The latter really put his foot in it by launching his war in early August in South Ossetia, bringing down on his head a massive Russian response. 

Saakashvili is clearly a hothead, who completely misread the situation; Aliyev is not. He is deftly feeling his way away from Russian dominance, but discreetly without fanfare or high profile posturing, let alone violence. 

Western oil companies are being invited into jvs to exploit the Caspian energy riches. A gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across the sea to Baku is now more probable in the light of the confirmation of a huge new find there recently (see 'Turkmenistan'), if that stands up. 

Altogether things are going Aliyev's way. Even the fallback in global oil prices is not so bad, coming from the world credit crunch. Anything going wrong can now be blamed on that. 

A rather good time to be the King of the Caucasus, the Bonaparte of Baku! 

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