In a snap election today, voters in Azerbaijan are almost certain to reelect President Ilham Aliyev as the country’s leader. Aliyev, who has been in power for more than 20 years, called the early vote after Azerbaijan’s military forces retook the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region last September, dislodging ethnic Armenian separatists who had controlled it since 1994. (AP)
The election is less interesting for any suspense over its result, which is not in doubt, as much as for how it highlights the role Aliyev has played in reshaping the balance of power in the Caucasus as well as in its relations with Europe.
Last year’s very brief war to retake Nagorno-Karabakh definitively ended a frozen conflict that dated back to the final days of the Cold War and restored Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity after three decades of fragmentation,” as Laurence Broers wrote in an October piece in WPR.