The Time Is Ready

Events in Ukraine scared Aliyev’s regime and a new wave of arrests have started again. Not only been arrested representatives of political parties of pro-Western sense, but today it is already affecting NGO’s which are also working with Europe and the United States by protecting Western values in Azerbaijan, promoting the benefits of European integration for the future of Azerbaijan, including arrests of journalist Khadija Ismayilova, the members of my family, my brother Arif Yunus and his wife Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (detained on “made up charges” and abused daily in Azeri prison system as we speak) and many others.

The past 2014 became the year “to pass Rubicon” because many in the United States and its allies in Europe were finally realizing their illusions step by step about the foreign policy of the government of President Aliyev. I can confidently say that the rise of new arrests in Azerbaijan began immediately after the beginning of the events in Ukraine .

Events in Ukraine scared Aliyev’s regime and a new wave of arrests have started again. Not only been arrested representatives of political parties of pro-Western sense, but today it is already affecting NGO’s which are also working with Europe and the United States by protecting Western values in Azerbaijan, promoting the benefits of European integration for the future of Azerbaijan, including arrests of journalist Khadija Ismayilova, the members of my family, my brother Arif Yunus and his wife Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (detained on “made up charges” and abused daily in Azeri prison system as we speak) and many others.

It is necessary to emphasize that all these arrests are accompanied by strong anti-American propaganda, which involves members of Aliyev’s cabinet and all pro-government media, which condemn US policy in the region and at the same time praise the close and friendly relations with Putin and Aliyev and historical ties between Russia and Azerbaijan as well.

If we compare the foreign policy during times of Heydar Aliyev (father of the current president), with what is happening today, then we can clearly say that “all the masks have been removed,” as Heydar Aliyev tried to sit on two chairs and did not allow such anti-American rhetoric or any statements from the members of his team. During Heydar Aliyev‘s times, there was no 60 page statement/manifesto called “Western Colonialism” written by Ramiz Mehdiyev, who was then and now is Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration. Heydar Aliyev held the balance between Moscow and Washington, playing up from time to time for both.

It is time to understand for all that Aliyev’s regime is politically focused on Moscow and pursuing the same policy, which at the time was held by Yanukovych in Ukraine and in his relations with the European Union and the United States played as  “cat and mouse” game with the West. If you don’t see Aliyev’s regime as a dictatorship, it will be a big political mistake, making the United States and its allies very difficult to defend its interests in that region.

As we can see, there are still no tangible results over all appeals of official Washington, including several statements of the State Department and the US Congress regarding the termination of all this escalation of violence, arrests, the release of all political prisoners, including the latest purge on the office radio “Freedom” and, ironically, it occurred immediately after the conversation with the Secretary of State John Kerry and President Aliyev.

Based on the above, I consider it is appropriate to begin a massive campaign to protect American strategic interests in Azerbaijan, which should include:

1. It is necessary to ensure that the White House with the US Congress will make a joint and condemning statement at the highest level (President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State), including possible sanctions. Time to move from words to the real acts of pressure on the totalitarian regime in Azerbaijan. It is a time to begin to apply sanctions to Aliyev’s regime, following the example of the famous “Magnitsky Act”, including the entire set of sanctions “step by step”, as it is done today against Putin’s Russia.

2. All of these public hearings in Washington need and should continue, but they will have no effect if  they are not supported by the White House, who should play first and leading role for them and it will send strong message to Baku that this initiative comes directly from the White House. Credibility of NGOs, even the most respected ones, is not enough for the dictatorship regime in Baku, and therefore, it is necessary to begin to involve high level officials from the White House and the US Congress.

3. By taking into consideration that European Olympic Games are to be held in Baku in the summer, no doubt  that it will be used as a tool of Aliyev regime’s  propaganda machine. It is necessary to launch a massive campaign in leading media in both the US and the EU, thereby to raise public opinion in these countries to ensure that the leaders of these countries will refuse to take part in the opening of the Games by boycotting the event.

4. Since the US does not participate in these games, I think it should work with all the countries of the European Union in this direction of boycott and it is important for the US embassies in the countries of the European Union to begin intensive work as well.

5. Given the enormous level of corruption in Azerbaijan, including not only Aliyev and his family members, but all his entourage as well, I think it is essential to start a campaign of exposing them to the world media on this subject. You have to understand that inner circle of  Aliyev’s clan is afraid to lose their bank accounts in Europe and the USA, as well as numerous properties in the West, which were acquired in a corrupt and criminal way. Pressure on Aliyev should be put to force him release all political prisoners and return to Azerbaijan many American NGOs and media channels.

By knowing  Ilham Aliyev personally many years and his entourage, I can assure you that he and his team members are especially afraid of only one: the loss of their huge financial resources and power as they respect and fear only those who speak with them from a position of power, as it is done by the way, by Putin is his relation to Aliyev. It’s time to understand that all other methods do not work in Azerbaijan, especially, when all those who defended all these years the pro-Western values in Azerbaijan are in prison today. Aliyev regime skillfully cleared this field before the Olympics, with the connivance of the US and its allies in Europe. If we do not want to completely lose Azerbaijan, it is about time to move from words to real action.

Ramis Yunus,

Political expert, former Chief of Staff of Government of

Azerbaijan and former Chief of Staff of Parliament of Azerbaijan.

Ana səhifəOp-edThe Time Is Ready