Azerbaijan plays indispensable role in US national security - Washington Times

Azerbaijan plays indispensable role in US national security - Washington Times

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 19

By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:

Last week, the Obama administration took a positive step in dealing with the United States' lack of real friendships and genuine alliances in the Muslim world, Alexander Murinson, a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center and Bar Ilan University, wrote in his article published by Washington Times.

"It acknowledged the critical part Azerbaijan plays in the interdiction of nuclear and radiological materials as a part of the global nonproliferation effort," the article said.

The author wrote that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was invited to attend the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., to be held in March. This highlights the indispensable role this small nation on the Caspian Sea plays in U.S. national security.

"Azerbaijan borders a hostile and militant vassal of Russia in Armenia to the west," the article said. "Moving forward, Baku needs to receive consistent and clear messages of support and reassurance from Washington and not criticism in this hour of utmost regional tensions."

The author wrote that the consistent demonstrations of unambiguous support from the United States will assure Baku that a great power is watching its back and will provide breathing room while Baku aligns its domestic policy with its long-term interests, namely to become to a model Muslim democracy.

"The majority of Azerbaijan's population realizes that there is no alternative to the current leadership if the country seeks to preserve its stability and avoid being swept into a maelstrom of Islamist radicalism that seized so many Muslim-majority nations," the article said. "In particular, Azerbaijan's electorate is scared of a replay of the Arab Spring. Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan Party) delivers tangible benefits both to the urbanites - pro-Western, liberal, young and middle class - and to the more conservative population in rural areas."

The author wrote that Israel sent a high-level delegation to oversee Azerbaijan's parliamentary elections in November 2015 that included former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Michael Oren, former ambassador to the United States and currently a member of the Knesset.

"This was a clear sign of recognition of the Azerbaijani government's outstanding ability to preserve stability in this volatile region," the author wrote. "This observer mission also had a diplomatic aspect, namely, to acknowledge the importance of Azerbaijan as a Muslim-majority state that maintains its secular constitution."

The author wrote that in the context of rapidly shifting geopolitical reality in the Near East, the position of Azerbaijan becomes increasingly critical for the West, as the main reliable conduit of energy resources for Europe.

"Azerbaijan has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to maneuver between different power centers and protect the country's self-sufficiency and independence," the article said. "Under Mr. Aliyev's steady hand, this line will continue."

"Otherwise, the West will have to significantly revise its energy plans and the East-West corridor projects," the article said. "Europe can ill afford a dramatic change in its energy security architecture. In particular, at such a critical juncture in reducing Europe's dependence on the Russian "energy dominion," a dramatic shift will be economically costly and unrealistic. If Baku is not convinced of the reliability of Western support, it is
likely to drift into Moscow's orbit."

"Pragmatic U.S. leadership at this time is critical to uphold past achievements and to preserve well-crafted American policy in the Caspian region," the author wrote. "President Aliyev's attendance and participation with President Obama at the fourth Nuclear Security Summit puts the United States and Azerbaijan squarely on that road together."

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