Azerbaijan: First Dynasty

For the first time a Soviet-era leader seems intent on handing the reins to his son. If this month’s votes add up, Ilham Aliev will inherit the presidency of Azerbaijan from his ailing father, creating a unique dynasty. There are no precedents to draw on. Azerbaijan is not a Gulf kingdom and has a lively opposition and a turbulent past. It is not a monarchy, although President Heidar Aliev’s dominance of the country for most of the past thirty three years has given it elements of one. Local cynics prefer to see this as a scenario from The Godfather, in which the ageing don tries to hand over the family business to the next generation and make sure that none of his clients and proteges get hurt.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Thomas De Waal

Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe

A lot is at stake in the presidential poll, not just for the Caspian sea state of Azerbaijan, strategically located between Russia, Georgia, Turkey and Iran, but for a much wider region.

Azerbaijan is about to become a medium-sized oil producer and construction is beginning this year on the 1760-kilometre Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which will take Caspian sea oil to the Mediterranean. BP is the major investor. If all goes well, and the oil price remains stable, the country may be earning in excess of $500 million a year from the pipeline in three years’ time. Unsurprisingly, all the presidential candidates back the project.

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