Pentagon strengthens ties to Azeri dictatorship

In Azerbaijan, there is a dictatorship which violates human rights.

This, however, does not hinder the Pentagon to cuddle up to the dictators, as A) there is lots of oil, and oil transport possibilities, in Azerbaijan B) Azerbaijan is an ally in the war in Afghanistan, which is supposedly for democracy … never mind that there is no democracy in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, or other United States allies.

From Reuters:

Gates, in Baku, seeks to shore up Afghan supply chain

Sun Jun 6, 8:52 AM

By Adam Entous

BAKU – The United States sought to shore up a link in its supply chain to Afghanistan on Sunday, sending Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Azerbaijan, a transit point that has complained about not getting enough attention.

Since 2001, tens of thousands of military aircraft and supply trucks have crisscrossed Azerbaijan by air and land, carrying U.S. and NATO forces and equipment to the war zone.

The Pentagon wants to make sure there are not any problems that could slow President Barack Obama’s 30,000-troop surge.

As part of the Obama administration’s campaign to keep Azerbaijan on board, Gates sandwiched a less than 24 hour stop in Baku, the capital, in between talks in Asia and Europe about the crisis on the Korean peninsula and the war in Afghanistan.

He said the trip was spurred, in part, by “concerns in Azerbaijan that we weren’t paying enough attention to them.”

“It’s important to touch base and let them know that in fact they do play an important role in this international coalition,” Gates told reporters on his plane before landing.

To underline the message that the United States was paying more attention to Azerbaijan, Gates will hand deliver a letter to President Ilham Aliyev from Obama to make clear “we have a relationship going forward,” a senior defense official said.

Gates is the first cabinet-level official to visit Azerbaijan since Obama came to office last year, and he made clear more high-level exchanges were planned.

The United States wants to expand military-to-military relations, from training to exercises, officials said.

As part of the outreach effort, the Pentagon sent a senior defense official to meet with the Azeris and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken by phone to Aliyev.

Officials said Azerbaijan told the Pentagon it was concerned about not getting higher-level visits and about not seeing the fruits of what the United States calls their “strategic partnership.”

“The complaints were more about ‘Why aren’t you taking our concerns seriously? You need to show us that you’re taking our concerns seriously’. So we got the message,” the senior defense official said. “You can’t argue with perceptions. They are what they are. And so we’ve been trying to redress that.”


Aliyev has been particularly critical of Washington’s role in its festering conflict with Armenia over the breakaway mountain region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan believes that the United States has been siding with Armenia in the conflict over the rebel region, where ethnic Armenians backed by Armenia threw off Azeri rule in the early 1990s in a war that killed 30,000 people. A peace deal has never been signed.

Gates will try to allay Aliyev’s concerns about Nagorno-Karabakh, an official said without elaborating.

Azerbaijan is part of what the United States refers to as the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which also involves Russia, Latvia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Disruption fears have risen in recent months.

In April, operations at the Manas military air base in Kyrgyzstan, an important support hub for the war, were briefly suspended after violent riots toppled then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. It is unclear how long the new government there will keep the base open.

Gates played down the impact of recent interruptions in fuel supplies to Manas, saying: “I don’t have the impression they’ve caused any problems at this point.”

A dispute between Central Asian nations Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has also disrupted food and fuel supplies at times.

Some cargo containers are delivered to Kazakhstan by rail from Latvia via Russia. Others cross Georgia and Azerbaijan by land before being shipped to Kazakhstan across the Caspian Sea.

From Kazakhstan, trains deliver cargo to Uzbekistan. After that, supplies can be either shipped by trucks straight across the border to Afghanistan or moved by rail further to Tajikistan which also borders Afghanistan.

Gates said the United States has “multiple avenues” to route supplies to Afghanistan to limit the impact of any disruptions in any one country.

But the northern distribution network has gained in importance both because of the increase in troop numbers and because of attacks on U.S. cargo shipments through Pakistan, officials said.

“I don’t feel anybody in particular has us over a barrel but clearly the ability to overfly Azerbaijan, the ability to use ground transportation through Azerbaijan — as with Russia, as with Kyrgyzstan — is obviously important,” Gates said.

“These are the most efficient and cost effective ways to get supplies to the international coalition in Afghanistan and to the Afghan forces themselves.”

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)

See also here.

Voice of America editorial: No free press in Azerbaijan: here.

‘Boys and Their Toys’: The US Befriends Azerbaijan’s Corrupt Elite: here.

South Caucasus And Central Asia Envoy: Azerbaijan Is Reliable NATO Partner: here.

22 thoughts on “Pentagon strengthens ties to Azeri dictatorship

  1. WikiLeaks cable shows “cattiest” comments by US

    Posted by Alex Newlands on December 13, 2010

    A WikiLeaks cable about the first lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, contains some of the “cattiest” comments to emerge from the leaked US embassy cables so far, according to the Guardian.

    Aliyeva has problems showing a “full range of facial expression” following “substantial cosmetic surgery, (done) presumably overseas,” US diplomats say in US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

    The cable written in January examines Aliyeva’s family, the influential Pashayevs, describing them as one of oil-rich state’s “most powerful families”.

    Under the headline “A First Lady, Too, in Fashion”, Aliyeva is dubbed more “fashion-conscious and daring” than the “average woman in majority-Muslim Azerbaijan”.

    It says that, as well as substantial cosmetic surgery, the first lady “wears dresses that would be considered provocative even in the Western world.”

    “On television, in photos, and in person, she appears unable to show a full range of facial expression,” it adds.

    The cable describes how in September 2008 Aliyeva and her two daughters hosted “second lady Lynne Cheney” – the wife of former US vice-president Dick Cheney.

    It recalls: “Prior to the Second Lady’s arrival, while the three ladies were waiting for Mrs Cheney’s car, one Secret Service agent asked ‘which one of those is the mother?’

    “Emboffs (embassy officials) and White House staff studied the three for several moments, and then Emboff said, ‘Well, logically the mother would probably stand in the middle.’”

    US diplomats tell Washington that, despite being an MP, the president’s wife appears “poorly informed about political issues.”

    Her family’s vast business interests, meanwhile, include several banks, an insurance company, construction, travel, and – so far – Azerbaijan’s only Bentley dealership. The cable also adds that her collection of contemporary art forms the basis of Baku’s new museum of modern art.


  2. A Decade of Increasingly Successful Azerbaijan-U.S. Defense & Security Cooperation

    Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

    SOURCE Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This month, a delegation of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan led by Major-General Ramiz Najafov, Head of the Ministry’s International Military Cooperation Department, visited Washington, D.C. to participate in the Bilateral Defense Consultations (BDC), a crucial element of the Azerbaijan-U.S. strategic partnership. The objective of the Consultations held annually, alternating between Baku and Washington, D.C., is to review a full range of bilateral defense cooperation and to define future plans with American counterparts.

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of establishing a formal framework for the defense and security cooperation between Azerbaijan and United States. In 2002, the already active bilateral defense and security cooperation was institutionalized and elevated to a qualitatively new level reflecting both the strengthening ties between the two nations and Azerbaijan’s growing role in the region.

    Azerbaijan is America’s reliable friend in a vitally important area of the world and a strong ally in its fight against international terrorism and efforts to promote regional security. Immediately after the terror attacks of 9/11, Azerbaijan became one of the first countries to offer the United States unconditional support in the war on terror, providing its airspace and the use of its airports for military operations in Afghanistan. Today, Azerbaijan’s strategic importance is on the rise as it continues to provide multi-faceted support for the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijani troops have been serving there shoulder to shoulder with U.S soldiers, just as they did previously in the Balkans and in Iraq. A key part to the Northern Distribution Network, Azerbaijan provides ground, air and naval transit for roughly 40% of U.S. and international coalition’s supplies bound for Afghanistan. Every year, tens of thousands of American and allied troops fly through Azerbaijani airspace en route to Afghanistan and back.

    While the Azerbaijan-U.S. defense and security cooperation covers a much wider range of issues, Afghanistan stands as an illustration of the depth and the strategic nature of the partnership between Azerbaijan and the United States.

    ©2012 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.


  3. State Department Official Meets Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister On Military Ties, Karabakh Conflict

    Trend News Agency

    January 18, 2012

    Azerbaijani Defense Minister receives U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

    Azerbaijani Defense Minister colonel-general Safar Abiyev has today received U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin.

    During the meeting the Defense Minister said that the relations between Azerbaijan and the US are developing in different fields. He stressed successful bilateral military cooperation, the Defense Ministry told Trend on Wednesday.

    Touching upon the military and political situation in the region, the minister informed his guest that Armenia continues its aggressive policy…

    The minister said that protraction of the peaceful settlement creates favorable conditions to resume the war in the region. So, the OSCE Minsk group must intensify its activity to avoid a worsening of the situation.

    Expressing his attitude toward the situation in the region, the U.S guest said that the attention will be strengthened to solve this problem this year. He stressed that it is in the U.S interest to ensure Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity to establish peace in the region.

    During the talk Mr Rubin once again stressed that the U.S recognizes the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories.


  4. Obama Commends Azerbaijan For NATO War, Energy War Support

    Trend News Agency
    January 19, 2012

    President Obama grateful to Azerbaijan for important contribution to international efforts to ensure security

    Baku: Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov handed over his credentials to U.S. President Barack Obama at an official ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington said.

    President Obama stressed a long history of friendship and partnership between Azerbaijan and the United States, based on common interests. He thanked Azerbaijan for its important contribution to international efforts to ensure security [that is, supplying troops to NATO for its Afghan war] and characterized it as a key partner in energy security for the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

    Suleymanov stressed Azerbaijan’s strong commitment to deepening and boosting bilateral relations and multi-faceted partnership between the two countries.
    Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed an order appointing Elin Suleymanov as the country’s Ambassador to the United States on Oct. 26, 2011. Prior to that, he served as Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.


  5. Israeli Arms Shipments To Azerbaijan: Against Iran Or Armenia?
    February 23, 2012

    Israeli arms supply to Azerbaijan aimed against Iran or Armenia?

    The Israel Aerospace Industries company plans to sell to Azerbaijan drones and air defense systems at USD 1,6 bln. The Israeli Defense Ministry deemed the issue a resolved one. Chairman of Islamic Committee of Russia Heydar Jemal rendered his version on Tel Aviv’s selling weaponry to Baku to GeorgiaTimes.

    According to the contract, Azerbaijan will get anti-aircraft systems and missile defense systems, without naming the precise volume of arms provided to Baku.

    “Selling weaponry to Azerbaijan is another attempt to exert psychological pressure on Iran. Selling drones and air defense systems to Azerbaijan must enhance the conflict level in ties between Baku and Tehran. Israeli weaponry may advance Azeri positions in relation to Armenia, whereas Armenians themselves get enough arms supplies from abroad. Israelis, similar to Americans, always define the conditions under which their armaments must be used. I deem the Tel Aviv-Baku arms deal to be Israel’s transmit to Iran. A Nagorno Karabakh conflict resumption is a mere matter of time. Relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis for years have remained tense,” Jema said.

    Iran has recently accused Azerbaijan of cooperation with Mossad.

    Asked whether Israeli intelligence may be found in Azerbaijan, Heydar Jemal said, “Azerbaijan is in close ties with Israel, also in the military field. Baku-Tel Aviv military cooperation implies close relations in the field of military reconnaissance. Azerbaijan has taken the role of Turkey for Israel…”

    Thus, tensions between Israel and Iran keep mounting…


  6. NATO Wants Azerbaijan As Wedge Between Russia And Iran

    The Messenger
    February 24, 2012

    Tensions with Iran push Azerbaijan towards NATO

    -Azeri analysts believe that NATO will be welcoming of their country, as it could help further separate Tehran and Moscow…and it may provide access to Azeri energy resources.

    On April 9, a high-ranking NATO delegation will visit Azerbaijan in order to begin negotiations on granting the country an Individual Partnership Action Plan.

    The meeting will discuss Azeri politics, security, defense, scientific capability, and environment problems.

    So far, Azerbaijan has been moving very cautiously towards NATO, out of consideration for its neighbour, Iran. However, the tense political situation in the region has prompted Baku to seek a new policy direction.

    Azeri analysts believe that NATO will be welcoming of their country, as it could help further separate Tehran and Moscow, it could secure an otherwise “risky” country like Azerbaijan, and it may provide access to Azeri energy resources.


  7. Military officer shot by sniper

    ARMENIA: The Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that a military officer was killed by a sniper on Monday in the Tavush region of the country’s north-east.

    The death follows that of an army sergeant in the same area, which borders Azerbaijan, last week. Armenia and Azerbaijan dispute sovereignty over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and shootings along their border are common.


  8. French Defense Delegation Visits Georgia, Azerbaijan

    Ministry of Defence of Georgia
    March 24, 2012

    The visit of French delegation

    Deputy Defence Minister Nodar Kharshiladze has received a delegation from the French National Defence Institute composed of 37 attendees today.

    Throughout the meeting held at the MoD the sides discussed reforms implemented in the defence and security spheres, Georgia’s NATO integration prospects, involvement in the ISAF mission and regional security issues.

    Within the visit the French delegation visited the National Defence Academy in Gori.

    At the meeting, attended by Command and General Staff School representatives, Academy Rector Andro Barnovi briefed [the guests] on the military education system. The sides also focused on cooperation perspectives in the education field.

    As part of the visit, French students inspected the Krtsanisi National Training Center to take a view of the training process of 23rd Infantry Battalion personnel of the II Infantry Brigade getting ready for participation in the ISAF mission.

    The goal of the French delegation’s visit in Georgia is become familiar with the military-political environment prevailing in the South Caucasus region.

    During their stay in Georgia, French attendees met with Deputy Foreign Minister Tornike Gordadze and Deputy Secretary of National Security Council Batu Kutelia. The delegation was also hosted by representatives of Foreign Relations, European Integration and Defence and Security Committees in the Parliament of Georgia.

    The French delegation will leave for Azerbaijan tomorrow.


    Azerbaijan Doubled Military Production Last Year

    March 16, 2012

    Azerbaijan doubled production of military industrial complex – speaker

    The economy of Azerbaijan continued to increase in 2011 in terms of the global economic crisis.

    Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Ogtay Asadov made the statement to a session on the report of the Azerbaijani government for 2011.


    ‘Given the state of war, the country holds the development of the defence sector as the center of attention. In comparison with 2010, the country doubled the production of the military industry complex in 2011. In 2011, 1.7 times more financial funds were allocated to all of this against 2010,’ the speaker said.


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