Dec 2 2010

WikiLeaks has published the U.S. diplomat Donald Lu's message,
which contains an unflattering description of Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev.

"Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev utilizes distinctly different
approaches to foreign and domestic policies," says the message.

"He typically devises the former with pragmatism, restraint and a
helpful bias toward integration with the West, yet at home his policies
have become increasingly authoritarian and hostile to diversity of
political views. This divergence of approaches, combined with his
father's continuing omnipresence, has led some observers to compare
the Aliyevs with the fictional 'Corleones' of Godfather fame, with
the current president described alternately as a mix of 'Michael'
and 'Sonny'.

According to the message, Heydar Aliyev "becomes by implication the
'Vito Corleone' of Azerbaijan."

"The President and his cohorts, who largely were carried over from
his father's administration, now seek predictability, stability and
continuity to preserve and protect public and private fortunes.

Aliyev's cabinet has changed very little over the years, with few
"reformers" brought in or remaining in power. The Prime Minister
position is largely ceremonial and weak. Because of family connections,
dynastic succession, the strong arming of the opposition and the
creation of an elaborate patronage/protection network, the Aliyev
Administration has developed an "organized crime" image in some
quarters, leading some analysts to see Ilham Aliyev at times in a
mafia-like role.

"President Aliyev inherited from his father a clever, realistic foreign
policy that he has largely maintained... He encourages involvement
with NATO and...supports a policy of westward transit of Azerbaijani
oil and gas through non-Russian channels.

"For all his bluster about Azerbaijan's legal right to liberate
the Armenian-occupied territories by force, Aliyev has worked
constructively on the Minsk Group-proposed Basic Principles and
developed a reportedly good rapport with Armenian President Sargsian
[Serzh Sargsyan] - in contrast to the much more confrontational
relationship between the countries' foreign ministers.

"Similarly, even as Aliyev regards with horror the prospect of
Turkey-Armenia rapprochement ahead of Nagorno-Karabakh resolution,
the President has instructed SOCAR to continue gas transit and supply
talks with Turkey...The gas transit talks are a hardball affair to
be sure, but Aliyev surely recognizes that Azerbaijan cannot really
afford a total rupture with Turkey and certainly is not going to go so
far as to foreclose on options out of pique while the Turkey-Armenia
question remains open.

"For all of the cool-headed calculation that generally influences
Aliyev's foreign policy, his domestic policies are another matter. As
Aliyev perceives a challenge to his authority or affronts to his
family dignity...The example of the crude retaliation against the
young bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade is the most recent and
public example."

The message also mentions Aliyev's decision to rescind licenses for
some foreign broadcasters. Heydar Aliyev would never have allowed
himself to be goaded into ridiculous reactions.

The explanation for the dissonance between Aliyev's foreign and
domestic policies is that he is insecure in domestic politics and
relies heavily on the advice of old-line Soviet-style political
figures carried forward from his father's administration, such as
Presidential Chief of Staff Ramiz Mehdiyev."

"It is clear that Azerbaijan's future development would better suit
United States policy goals if Aliyev pursued his domestic policies in
a manner that resembled his foreign policy methods, however imperfect
they may be," the message reads.

From: A. Papazian