Electoral Survival of the Most Corrupt Azerbaijan, Georgia, and American Regional Goals; Strategic Insights: v.2, issue 12 (December 2003)
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Between 15 October and 2 November 2003, contentious elections took place in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Polling was accompanied by government intimidation, results falsification, and clashes between citizens and security forces. Both elections also came at a time when incumbent governments were weak. The election campaigns also drove regime rhetoric about simmering conflicts with neighbors (Azerbaijan) and breakaway groups (Georgia) farther to the right. Because of their strategic location at the nexus of South Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Georgia (along with Armenia) are the pivotal Caucasus countries, indispensable to American interests when it comes to energy, competitive diplomatic power projection, and the War on Terror. During the 1990s, access to Caspian oil and gas drove U.S. policy in Azerbaijan-Georgia. Post-9/11 priorities have hastened the development of American-Caucasus military ties through the Partnerships-for-Peace program and other bilateral initiatives. This document examines why the situation appears to have stabilized in repressive Azerbaijan, while events led to the exit of the incumbent regime in relatively more open Georgia. The document also examines what the evolving situation in Azerbaijan and Georgia means for U.S. strategy.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (December 2003), v.2 no.12
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