WHO WILL AMERICAN AZERBAIJANIS SUPPORT IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS?

Azeri Press Agency
Jan 7 2008
Azerbaijan

APA's US bureau learns opinions of Diaspora organizations

The Azerbaijanis living in the US will also actively participate in
the presidential elections in November. APA's US bureau learnt the
opinions of heads of Diaspora organizations in the United States.

Tomris Azeri, the president of American Azerbaijan Society says they
have been meeting and attending fund-raising activities of all the
candidates, volunteering in their campaigning offices.

"We have been sending a questioner to all the candidates asking them
to explain their stance on Azerbaijan. We got close to Senator McCain
in 2000 election year, we've attended his fund-raising events. Mayor
Guiliani knows ASA, we have letters from him acknowledging our Republic
day and Independence day. We've met him several times. In fact at ASA
we are very much hoping that in 2008 republican presidential election
ticket we will see McCain/Guiliani. I have personally attended Hillary
Clinton fund-raising event. Turkish community in NY has very close
relations with his campaign. Iowa caucus was the first step in US
presidential election process, well organized campaigns got Obama and
Huckabee elected, ASA is preparing a letter to send to both of these
winners. Hearing about Senator Obama being close to Armenians does
not bother me at all. We can also be close to him, if we could only
learn how to attend their meetings and fund-raising events. In order to
advance and organize our efforts to define and clarify the Azerbaijani
situation we feel, we must meet and talk with our representatives and
get involved in the election process. ASA will be very much involved in
2008 US presidential election process, as we have been for many years.

Adil Baqirov, the vise president of "Worldwide Strategic Partners"
International Research Institute told APA's US bureau that the
primaries have started in the U.S., which is a complex process of
selecting the most popular Republican and Democratic presidential
contenders that goes on in every state.

"The result would be those parties nominating their most popular
representative for President during their respective summer 2008
conventions. The first state for primaries traditionally is Iowa,
followed by New Hampshire. The results of Iowa were not surprizing and
predicted by pollsters. For Republicans, Mike Huckabee came in first,
Mitt Romney second and Fred Thompson third, whilst Rudy Giuliani only
came in sixth. For Democrats, Barack Obama came in first, John Edwards
came in second and Hillary Clinton third. What does all this mean
for Azerbaijani-Americans and for Azerbaijan, which is a strategic U.S.

ally? So far, not too much, because the first states where primaries
are held are too small to make real differences in the U.S. political
process - that states that matter are the large states with large
population, such as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas,
Florida, especially California (the largest population), and a few
other states. Half of the Republican candidates, such as Rudy Giuliani
(#6), Duncan Hunter (#7) and Mike Huckabee (#1) (although when he was
Governor of Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee did issue a proclamation about the
"Armenian genocide"), are friendly and understanding towards issues
facing Azerbaijani-Americans and ally nation of Azerbaijan, although
other candidates, such as Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and John McCain,
have less definitive and in some cases potentially unfriendly stances.

However, only Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huchabee have a realistic chance
from among the Republicans, hence their views and opinions are most
important. Meanwhile, neither Barack Obama (#1) nor especially John
Edwards (#2) can be viewed as very friendly or understanding towards
issues facing Azerbaijani-Americans, and the strategic U.S. ally which
is Azerbaijan. Although Sen. Obama is among a handful of presidential
candidates who actually visited Azerbaijan, he does strongly support
Armenian claims. Meanwhile, former Sen. Edwards' national campaign
manager (chief of staff [apparatin sadri]) is the former Congressman
David Bonior (D-MI), who was very close with the Armenian lobby and
played a devastating role in spearheading the enactment and maintaining
of the notorious Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act of 1992,
and even introduced a House Resolution 86, which was supposed to
place even greater restrictions on Azerbaijan than the Sec 907. Also,
Sen. Edwards is the former running mate of Sen. John Kerry in 2004,
who was an ardent supporter of the Armenian lobby, and one of the
fathers of Section 907 and other anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish
resolutions. Neither can anything positive be said of other Democratic
candidates, such as Con. Dennis Kucinich (#8) and Sen. Joe Biden
(#5), who are all supporters of the Armenian lobby. Although,
Sen. Hillary Clinton (#3) and Gov. Bill Richardson (#4) are friendly
and understanding towards issues facing Azerbaijani-Americans and
ally nation of Azerbaijan. Like in case with Republican candidates,
only Hillary Clinton and less so Barack Obama seem to have a realistic
chance from among the Democrats," he said.

"As is known, the Azerbaijani, and more widely, Turkic communities of
the United States, depending on their party affiliation, have always
supported Mayor Giuliani and Senator Clinton, and thus, hope that they
would win the nomination of their respective parties. Meanwhile, Mayor
Giuliani will not win the next primaries, in New Hampshire, Michigan
and South Carolina, but is expected to win Nevada, California, Florida,
New Jersey, New York, and other important states, thus gathering the
most votes and winning the Republican Party's nomination. Likewise,
Sen. Clinton might win or be #2 in the next primaries in New Hampshire
and South Carolina, but is expected to win after that in Michigan,
Nevada, Florida, California, New Jersey, New York, and other states,
and winning the Democratic Party's nomination.

Finally, whilst Hillary Clinton is the perceived favorite to win the
U.S. Presidential elections in November 2008, polls show that either
Giuliani or McCain from among the Republicans can defeat her. Since
McCain is highly unlikely to secure the Republican Party's nomination,
the choice of the Republicans will be Giuliani," Adil Baqirov said.

Javid Huseynov, the president of American Azerbaijan Council said
the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire were definitely indicative
of the current voter trend in those states.

"And although the impressive showing by Senator Obama in both
states came as a surprise, his lead in these two states was already
predicted, for example, by the CNN Election Center. So at this point
it would be premature to make generalizations about a nationwide
voter trend. According to the Newsweek magazine, for example, Iowa
voters tend to change their votes in last moment and during the 2004
Democratic primaries, Howard Dean was in the lead, yet, in the end,
John Kerry was nominated as the party candidate based on nationwide
results.

In my opinion, the fate of candidates will be decided in the upcoming
primaries of both parties in such important and populous states as
California, New York, Texas and Florida. The same CNN Election Center
predicts big lead for Senator Clinton over Senator Obama at 56% vs.

22%. Of course, one should not underestimate the appeal of young and
energetic Senator Obama and his absolute popularity among younger
generations of Americans. Just as an example, he has a huge lead
over other candidates in Facebook social networking polls. But most
Americans at this point are looking for a big change, and they're
unlikely to entrust that change to younger and less experienced
Senator Obama. One should also not underestimate the popularity of
former President Clinton and his support for the former first lady's
election campaign, which will definitely have an influence on both
Democratic and Republican voter choices.

Similar situation exists in the Republic camp, where Mike Huckabee's
lead in Iowa and Mitt Romney's lead in the State of Wyoming with a
population of 500,000 is likely to have very little impact on larger
voter bases in California, with a population of nearly 37 million, for
instance, where Republican candidates like Mayor Giuliani and Senator
McCain are likely to have a considerable lead. It is still difficult
to make particular conclusions at this point, but in my opinion
Giuliani-Clinton runoff in November elections may not be unlikely.

Obviously, Azerbaijan cannot be the primary issue in general U.S.

election politics at this point. However, the foreign policy programs
of the candidates in regards to South Caucasus and Caspian region,
and on the issues of primary interests of Azerbaijan will obviously
reflect on the choices and votes of Azerbaijani-Americans. I was
pleasantly surprised, for instance, to find out about the attention
Mike Huckabee pays in his foreign policy summary to Azerbaijan and
Turkey, appreciating their importance in regional energy security. On
the other hand, we all know about the one-sided stance that Senator
Obama has taken on the issue of claims of Armenian Genocide and
accusations against Turkey, which should probably be noted by the
Turkish American voters. It nevertheless is important to reach out
to Senator Obama in addressing vital community concerns, because
even if he is not nominated in current elections, he is very likely
to reappear in future elections as a strong and more experienced
Democratic candidate," he said.