August 1, 2020 - 11:29 AMT
RFE/RL: Azerbaijan's despotic ruler throws "tantrum" in crackdown on rivals

Facing growing public dissent over corruption, a mismanaged economy, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and no progress in the country's long-running conflict with neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan's strong-arm ruler Ilham Aliyev decided to crack down on the opposition, an article published by FRE/RL says.

In an action widely seen as an attempt to eliminate pro-democracy advocates and political rivals once and for all, as many as 120 opposition figures and supporters have been rounded up in the past two weeks by Aliyev's security services.

They include senior members of the largest opposition group, the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AXCP).

Political analysts say charges of "attempting to overthrow the government" against the AXCP's Fuad Qahramanli and Mammad Ibrahim suggest Aliyev's regime is ultimately seeking to arrest and silence AXCP leader Ali Karimli.

Karimli offered on July 30 to be arrested in exchange for the release of more than 40 AXCP members who he says have been jailed on bogus charges.

Karimli also says he is ready to resign as leader of the AXCP if it helps bring an end to the crackdown on the opposition.

The immense crackdown has also targeted members of other parties within an opposition alliance known as the National Council of Democratic Forces -- an umbrella group that includes the AXCP, the Musavat Party, the Muslim Unity Movement, and others who have fought against Aliyev's oppressive rule.

An editorial by The Washington Post on July 29 said Aliyev has "blown a gasket" with a "tantrum" that is "threatening to obliterate what remains of independent political forces in Azerbaijan."

"Mr. Aliyev's use of the iron fist to destroy his critics is the opposite of democracy and why everyone should worry about this intemperate tyrant," the editorial concluded.