“Azerbaijan” newspaper has published an article headlined “The Obama-era stereotypes still exist in the US”.
In the past few days Azerbaijan has been facing a fresh smear campaign, which was launched by some Western forces and which may cast shadow on the prospects of US-Azerbaijani relations. On September 4, the two sponsored articles were published in The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers, signaling a new wave of attack and starting a giant discrediting machine, which also involves the fifth column. There were no doubts that by tradition Azerbaijan has once again become a target of criticism of different international organizations and official representatives of a number of states. In her statement made on September 7, Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the US Department of State, demanded the release of Mehman Aliyev, the detained head of the Turan news agency. Then during the discussion of the Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Bill, pro-Armenian senator Richard Durbin submitted an amendment envisaging sanctions against Azerbaijani officials. A group of critics, which have been employed since the Obama administration, including David Cramer embarked on a propaganda campaign to ensure the implementation of the sanctions.
Obviously, using the opportunity, Soros-backed forces and the Armenian lobby, which have constantly targeted Azerbaijan, rushed to make efforts to spoil the US-Azerbaijani relations and strategic partnership.
It should be admitted that the election of Donald Tramp raised hopes that the Obama administration-caused problems in relations between the two countries will be solved. A number of experts described a telephone talk, which took place between Mr Trump and President Ilham Aliyev several days after the election of the new US President, as a new page in bilateral relations. In April last year, the Azerbaijani President was invited to the Nuclear Security Summit in the United States where he held meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry and a number of other officials, which was described as a manifestation of the development of friendship and partnership between the two countries. In his congratulatory messages to President Ilham Aliyev on the occasion of Republic Day and the 24th International Caspian Oil and Gas 2017 Exhibition and Conference, the US President directly pointed out the beginning of a new era of bilateral relations. In his letters, Donald Trump said that he looks forward to working with President Ilham Aliyev as an active partner to ensure a greater future for both Azerbaijan and the US, and the world.
Naturally, all this should be characterized as Mr Trump`s appreciation of the contribution of Azerbaijan as the leading country in the South Caucasus to the West`s fight against terrorism and the country`s role in the implementation of crucial energy projects, rather than the US leader`s personal attitude towards Baku. On the other hand, Mr Trump has repeatedly stated that unlike in previous years, the USA is not going to build its foreign policy on the principles of interference with other countries` internal affairs and will not attempt to control them. This gives reasons to say that the US leader set himself a goal of developing equal, mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. This policy could have been a good beginning – under former President Barack Obama – for coping with negative cases and remove coldness in US-Azerbaijan relations and for developing fruitful and equal cooperation and strategic partnership between the two countries.
But the recent events showed that official Washington has failed to get rid of Obama era stereotypes and different lobbying group`s serious influence on the government policy. By interfering – in contrast to Mr Trump`s strategic line – with internal affairs of independent countries using “democracy” and “human rights” as a pretext, the interested forces who hold high posts in the Department of State, Congress and other important governing and legislative bodies are encouraging the USA`s partners to review their policies.
These forces believe that Azerbaijan should not have its own statehood and national interests in general or that they should not cross the limits they set. This is arrant nonsense. Azerbaijan has already proved that being an independent state it sets its internal and foreign policy and builds its international relations by its own and does not need any advice from any power center or external force. Maybe this is the reason why some US circles think that Azerbaijan “rejects” the West and its values. This is why some Western media particularly The Washington Post, which is considered the Department of State`s official body, publish fake anti-Azerbaijani articles in total contradiction to the spirit of partnership and all ethical norms, and the Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and other similar organizations are used as tools of pressure.
For many years Azerbaijan has tolerated such accusations and did its utmost to prevent these unjust attacks from casting shadow on strategic partnership, mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral ties. On the one hand, Azerbaijan has showed its commitment to its strategic choice, duties and obligations. On the other hand, it showed that as an independent state it is eager to build relations with all global political players in an atmosphere of equal cooperation and will never take any step that could put its national interests at risk. In this context, sincerity in Azerbaijan`s relationship with the USA and the European Union could be considered as a model. The reality is that official Baku has not yet rejected this choice and is trying to develop its strategic partnership with the European Union and the USA despite pressure from different power centers and some regional states.
Can official Baku review its partnership policy towards the West and take adequate steps if the anti-Azerbaijani forces and lobby interests prevail in the USA and if the Magnitsky Act, which was imposed on Russia, is applied to Azerbaijan? What these steps will be?
According to experts, practice shows that although official Baku is quite sincere in its relationship with its partners, it has never tolerated a policy of pressure and dominance. From this point of view, the Azerbaijani government`s taking adequate steps towards quitting strategic partnership with the West looks real.
Azerbaijan`s partnership with the West concerns and irritates some regional powers. But having remained committed to a multi-vector and balanced policy, official Baku has maintained and developed its strategic partnership with the US and the European Union despite pressure. Sanctions and similar wrong actions may force Azerbaijan to review its foreign policy and make a one-sided choice. But this will be a serious loss for the USA and Western states that have great interests in the region.
It is a well-known fact that the Azerbaijani peacekeepers were part of the peacekeeping missions in Kosovo from 1999-2008 and Iraq in 2003-2008. Having joined the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in 2002, the Azerbaijani soldiers continue to perform their duties decently. By opening its air space and allowing the use of the existing air transport infrastructure, Azerbaijan is making an outstanding contribution to NATO`s military contingent in Afghanistan. But Azerbaijan can end its military and geostrategic cooperation with the West, cease participation in anti-terror operations and peacekeeping mission and refuse any logistical support to the NATO contingent in Afghanistan.
Those who authorized this fresh campaign against Azerbaijan naively believe that this will help them protect the fifth column and their friends. For many years, Azerbaijan has tried to turn a blind eye to anti-national elements such as Khadija Ismayil, Mehman Aliyev, Emin Milli as well as to arbitrariness of the Western NGO and media network and tolerated them although it was quite clear that they were fulfilling a certain mission. However, when the activities of this network started to shake the foundations of the state it became necessary to take preventive measures and steps. The West’s new “demarche” can encourage further deepening of those measures.
Of course, much can be done and these measures are not confined to the aforementioned. But is there a need for that? What will the West get by pressing Azerbaijan into alienation?
Azerbaijan is loyal to its relations with the U.S. and the West and wants these relations to deepen even further. We can hope that the Trump administration won’t repeat the mistakes of their predecessors and won’t let Soros-backed network and the Armenian lobby gain ground. In this case, there won’t be any need for either absurd measures such as sanctions or retaliation.