Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aliyev Must be Pandering for Votes...

...because he just decreed that the Azeri people's debt to the state owned gas company is kaput.
Wait, did I say "decreed"? I guess this isn't a vote thing after all. It's just Caucasus economics.

Aliyev looks great to his people (and his parliament). He gets to be a father of the people just like his dad. And considering that all he really did was creatively title a tax break, its a pretty solid PR win. Eternal Remont says as much in less words.

It's nice to see that Azerbaijan, for all of the freedom-of-press issues and single-track-economy issues at least ostensibly has Azeri folks' interests in mind. Even though I enjoyed my time in Azerbaijan myself, every time I think of the country now I think of Carpetblogger, who is hardly an Aliyev mouthpiece. But as much as Azerbaijan has gotten ragged on pretty often in the past, it is an actual country with an actual economy. It is far more like the countries to the west of it than it is to the ones on the other side of the Caspian, I would wager. It even has a national book! Written by one of the more fascinating men I've read about (Lev Nussinbaum has a better reason to hate Communism than you do: Stalin slept with his mom).

So there is something definitively there to get punditized. Aliyev's annulling of Azeri debt probably has investors in Azeri industry (read: BP) disgruntled, and it looks more like real governance than anything else going on between the Black and the Caspian. So there's something that could be responsibly discussed, which beats things like "zOMG! Circassians are a threat to Russia and thus must be looked at like Chechens or maybe like Ossetians or was it more like Georgians!"

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