I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore and it's my fault. I really should be posting on the Azerbaijan Presidential election because there are few people there who were there in 2005 (just as there were few there in 2005 who lived through 2003) and who can interpret the spin that will emerge from both the USG and GovAZ. On the other hand, the election matters not one bit and what anyone has to say about it matters even less. There are forces at work in that country greater than any of us.
Anyway, the Committee to Protect Journalists put out an excellent report on the murder of Elmar Huseynov, which happened while I was there. This article brings back lots of bad memories of all the ridiculous things that were happening at that time, things about which I knew a great deal but was restricted from talking about publicly.
I'm sure the "obsevers" in town for the "election" will put together a thorough report that demonstrates how much better this election was than the last one (that was our strategic objective in 2005, as well). Everyone will point out how weak the opposition is and that Aliyev would have won anyway and that he's the best bet for regional stability. Then, when Aliyev does something insane (a la Saakashvili, and it doesn't take much imagination to come up with insane moves he might consider), or is overthrown by a gang of competing kleptocrats, because U.S. "democracy support" programs in the Caucusus favor personalities over institutions, everyone will panic.
I have a lot of things to say on this topic. Maybe when I am out of Saudi Arabia, I'll revitalize this blog.