International Herald Tribune
The U.S. is still coddling autocrats, said Farhad Husseinov in the International Herald Tribune. The Bush administration encouraged the democratic “color revolutions” that toppled Soviet-era holdovers in Georgia and Ukraine. But in Azerbaijan, another former Soviet republic, President Bush has blessed a dictatorship. Two years ago, Ilham Aliyev “inherited power” from his father, longtime strongman Heidar Aliyev, through a rigged election, and the U.S. simply shrugged. It’s hard not to attribute that indifference to Azerbaijan’s immense, untapped oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea. U.S. oil companies are vying for contracts in the region, and they’re more interested in stability than democracy. Now, though, Bush has a chance to redeem himself. Aliyev is currently trying to rig November’s parliamentary elections by banning some opposition candidates and labeling others “either homosexual or agents of al Qaida.” Azeris need Bush to speak out for the opposition. His “freedom agenda” is a magnificent policy. It should also apply to “countries that possess oil.”
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