Can WikiLeaks blow up Azerbaijan from within?

A certain selectivity of “leaking” information plays into the hands of the U.S. which wants to put in their place some of the leaders of former Soviet countries. And the Aliyev-Pashayev family is the first in this list.

The week began, as it has lately become a tradition, with another portion of diplomatic dispatches of the US Department of State, released by WikiLeaks at the website of British newspaper The Guardian. “Hero of the Day” was the first lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, née Pashayeva. We intentionally specify the maiden name of the president’s wife so that you can better understand all those ties, without which the Aliyev clan could no longer be existent.

PanARMENIAN.Net - However, let us first see what the leaked dispatch says. “First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva is too keen on plastic surgery and wears provocative dresses. She has problems showing a full range of facial expression. The first lady wears dresses that would be considered provocative even in the Western world, not to mention the more conservative and predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan. Despite being an MP, the president's wife appears poorly informed about political issues.” Mehriban Pashayeva also manages the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, an organization judged by U.S. diplomats as non-transparent.

There is much more to be said about the family of Mehriban Pashayeva. Thus, her uncle, Hafiz Pashayev, is the first ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States, presently Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Director of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy; father, Arif Pashayev, is Rector of the National Aviation Academy; sister of the first lady Nargiz Pashayeva heads the branch of Moscow State University located in Azerbaijan. The Pashayevs are known to operate extensively in sectors of construction, telecommunications and information technology. The family is believed to exert control over the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education, simply because these ministries fall under the areas traditionally of interest for a First Lady. In that regard, the Pashayevs have promoted the construction of museums and other cultural sites in Baku, opening a branch of the Guggenheim Museum. The museum was designed by Altay Sadikhzade, a local artist/designer married to Nargiz Pashayeva. Depicted by Altay, the portraits of Mehriban, Nargiz and Arif occupy the central part of the gallery. The property and capital of the Pashayev family is controlled by Pasha Holding, a conglomerate that includes Pasha Bank, Pasha Insurance, Pasha Construction, and Pasha Travel. The family owns local TV station Lider TV, as well as is the manufacturer of “Nargiz” cosmetics. In November 2009, Pasha Holding opened Baku’s first, and so far only, Bentley dealership. Nar Mobile (officially registered as Azerfon) is also linked to this family.

U.S. diplomats also note that the Pashayev family speak Russian better than Azeri, which is not surprising - rich people in Baku used to send their children to Russian schools and Moscow Universities.

According to independent and opposition experts, today’s Azerbaijan is run in a manner similar to the feudalism found in Europe during the Middle Ages. A handful of well-connected families control certain geographic areas, as well as certain sectors of the economy. By and large, there seems to be an agreement between the leading families to divide the spoils and not disturb one another’s areas of business or geographic control. As a result, an economy already burgeoning with oil and gas revenues produces enormous opportunity and wealth for a small handful of players that form Azerbaijan’s elite.

But the most interesting point about all this is that immediately after the publication Baku began to deny everything that was allegedly told by U.S. diplomats. However, it’s no use denying the publications of WikiLeaks. After all, disclaimers themselves indirectly witness that not all the dispatches are false. Similar is the case with the “details” of conversation between U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and Ilham Aliyev. It may well be that a certain selectivity of “leaking” information plays into the hands of the U.S. which wants to put in their place some of the leaders of former Soviet countries. And the Aliyev-Pashayev family is the first in this list. Perhaps especially with these actions the U.S. wants to neutralize the Aliyev clan and prevent the war in Karabakh. It’s not about American philanthropy; everything is calculated: a new war in the South Caucasus is utterly intolerable for Obama administration.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News
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