Washington Times: Unlike others, Ilham Aliyev does not play politics with energy exports
Azerbaijan is America’s most trusted ally in the broader Middle East. To the north lies Russia, a country governed by a man who has no hesitation in using energy exports as a political weapon, wrote Rob Sobhani, director general of the Caspian Group Holdings, in his article published by the Washington Times.
The United States is lucky to have Mr. Aliyev in charge of this Muslim nation of 9 million because, unlike Vladimir Putin and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the president of Azerbaijan does not play politics with energy exports, noted Sobhani.
“This 56-year-old leader understands that if families in Ukraine do not get gas deliveries to their homes in the winter they may perish, or if Europe’s gas is cut off for a few days in the summer perishable goods across the continent will be destroyed. In short, within the broader Middle East, Azerbaijan has proven to be the most reliable partner for and anchor of Western energy security,” reads the article.
“Beyond the offshore oil platforms one sees from President Aliyev’s office is the project that needs Washington’s immediate and full support: TANAP, or the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline. Starting from the giant Shah Daniz gas field operated by British Petroleum, this project means the delivery of 355 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Europe by 2020. The geopolitical implications of TANAP are clear: Azerbaijan becomes a reliable long-term energy exporter to Europe, thus lessening the continent’s reliance on Russia and its unreliable leaders who have shown no hesitation in using gas exports as a political weapon to extract concessions from the West,” says the article.
The author recalled that immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11 on American soil, the former President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, invited American Ambassador Ross Wilson to his office and offered the full support of his country.
“That legacy of U.S.-Azerbaijan cooperation to combat global terrorism is carried on by his son, Ilham Aliyev. Today, the American Air Force has unhindered flyover rights over Azerbaijan’s airspace, thus allowing the Pentagon’s Transportation Command to supply goods and services to American troops in a timely manner. A critical but lesser-known fact about this aspect of military cooperation between Washington and Baku is that when injured American servicemen in need of urgent lifesaving care need to be flown to an American military hospital, they are flown over Azerbaijan’s territory,” Sobhani wrote.
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