The Republic of Azerbaijan gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. By 2005, Azerbaijan's hydrocarbons had "attracted approximately $7.3 billion in foreign investment over the past five years and $23 billion total to date. This influx of investment and petrodollars into Azerbaijan's relatively small market has the economy working on overdrive and offering U.S. export opportunities to satisfy the country's growing purchasing power. GDP growth in Azerbaijan averaged over 10% per year for 2001 – 04, and reached an unprecedented 26.4% increase in 2005."
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC): transports crude oil 1,760 km (1,093 miles) from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It passes through Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia; and Ceyhan, a port on the southeastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey."
- Azerbaijan's state-run and public media compete with private and opposition publications and broadcasters. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution, but in 2010 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said journalists and bloggers are under persistent pressure from the authorities. Turkey's state-run TRT TV is rebroadcast in Azerbaijan. Iranian and Russian channels can be seen in border areas. There were 3.7 million internet users by June 2010.
U.S. military bases and Azerbaijan
In 2010, the parliament of Azerbaijan approved a policy of allowing foreign military bases in the country. The new policy would allow "the temporary accommodation of foreign military bases" in Azerbaijan under international accords and "in the case of radical changes in Azerbaijan's military-political situation." The law was adopted within days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the country. Gates said during his short visit, "It's important to touch base and let them know they do play an important role."
The U.S. has long been seeking out bases and transit corridors in the area to reduce its dependence on supply routes to Afghanistan via Pakistan. Tens of thousands of flights as well as around 100,000 U.S.-led forces have passed through Azerbaijan since the Afghan war began in 2001.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Azerbaijan Journalists Confederation
- Eurasia Foundation
- oil industry
- US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce
- U.S. military bases overseas
- Azerbaijan, National Geographic, accessed November 2010.
- Country profile: Azerbaijan, BBC, accessed November 2010.
- Azerbaijan, Export.gov.
- "Azerbaijan's New military doctrine: Open Door to Establishment of US Military Bases", Centre for Research on Globalisation, June 1, 2010.
- David Case, "The Crude Doctrine," MotherJones, July/August 2004.
- Lindsay Beyerstein, "Lobbying Firm Brags About Smoothing Way for a Stolen Election", AlterNet, July 14, 2008.
- Ken Silverstein, "Lobbyist-arranged Op-eds?", Harper's, July 15, 2008.