Rasul Guliyev, a former Azerbaijani parliament speaker who now lives in exile in the United States, was detained May 1 in the Netherlands on an Interpol arrest warrant. On May 2, Dutch immigration officials released the prominent Azerbaijani opposition figure after determining there was a lack of evidence to substantiate the warrant, a source familiar with the incident told EurasiaNet.
After more than three decades at or near the pinnacle of power in Azerbaijan a period that stretches far back into the Soviet era President Heidar Aliyev might arguably repeat the pronouncement once uttered by the French monarch Louis XIV: "L'etat, c'est moi" (I am the state).
With Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev keeping a low profile, the country's mass media outlets are in the spotlight. Extensive coverage of Aliyev's evident health problems is posing a challenge for authorities, who prefer to control the flow of information about the ailing president.
Azerbaijan's handling of Aliyev's illness may end up marking an important point in the country's civil society development, especially in the mass media sphere. At present, however, it appears too early to draw any definitive conclusions, as the struggle over information continues to play out between the government and opposition media outlets.
Over the past decade, Azerbaijan's relative stability has rested on the foundation of President Heidar Aliyev's image of unchallenged authority. That image was seriously tarnished by the recent, public display of Aliyev's frail health. Now, members of Azerbaijan's political and intellectual elite are raising concerns about Aliyev's ability to run the country.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev has been a vital promoter of a pipeline project that would transport Caspian Basin energy resources from Baku through Georgia and on to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Aliyev's recent health scare has added to lingering questions surrounding the project's feasibility.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev made a television appearance April 22 in an effort discourage speculation about the state of his health, a day after suffering from apparent chest pains during a speech to military cadets. Nevertheless, the incident is prompting renewed speculation about the political succession process in Azerbaijan.
As American-led troops take control in Iraq, the Turkish government that declined to host them is pursuing alliances elsewhere in the region. Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi paid a sudden visit to Turkey on April 6, following US Secretary of State Colin Powell by four days.