Azerbaijan is going through a period of instability, not only at the domestic level but also in the region. For several years, the country has been in the middle of an open conflict with Armenia regarding Nagorni-Karabaj, which has resulted in a lot of casualties. Over the past months, observers have noticed an increase of military activities and the use of aggressive terms by many politicians.
The interference attempts by some western countries in the Trans-Caucasus seemed to have encouraged the most violent right forces which increase their actions in an effort to suffocate Armenia. This country, tested since the beginning of the century, is punished by its neighbors and traditional Azeri and Turkish enemies. The European extensions to Turkey are linked to the increasing Turkish interest in its neighbor. In the Gazeta SNG (the news daily of the Commonwealth of Independent States), Smbat Karakhanian, a nationalist who presides over the Armenian national club of Moscow, the Miabanutiun, denounces the joint efforts by Turkey and NATO to take control of the Caucasus and to have the last Russian bases in Armenia evacuated. In spite of old hard feelings, the East of Turkey suffers for the closing of its border with Armenia ten years ago. The links with the natural trade partners of the Caucasus are affected. The two countries do no have diplomatic relations. The Turkish are playing a dangerous game as they are trying to expand their influence in all directions: NATO, The European Union and the Caucasus - without making any concessions. The illegality of the tracing of borders with Armenia perhaps is the origin of these difficulties. The slightest change in its speech could have serious consequences for this country, that has to face a potentially strong state in its borders: the Iraqi Kurdistan and its demands in the near future.
Etibar Mamedov, secretary of the Party of the Azeri National Independence and one of the main personalities of the Azeri opposition speaks in the Day.Az news daily about his concern regarding the upcoming legislative elections in his country. This article is retaken by the Gazeta SNG newspaper in what is an example of the interest that exists in this region that many say the Russians have already lost. In his opinion, the change will be inevitable once the disagreements are better defined within the leading elite. This should not take long unless important reforms take place. The wish to draw the people’s attention to another potential conflict with Armenia in regards to Karabaj is certainly part of the power’s intention to find a pretext to create a state of emergency that would allow it to stay in power without paying attention to legality. The Azeri president is pressured by the United States that, in the framework of its democratization of the “Great Middle East”, makes efforts to anticipate a replacement that seems inevitable due to the increasing dissatisfaction in the country.
Linked for several years to oil transnational companies thanks to the “contract of the century”, Azerbaijan is now a US military zone that has borders with Russia, Iran and Armenia and which is only safe in its fourth border: the one they share with the traditional Turkish allies.
In this “green belt” around Russia, only world and regional strategic matters seem to count while the people’s will is relegated to a second level as a hostage of corporate and military interests. It seems that the race for these upcoming elections has already started and he who manages to obtain the official support of Condoleezza Rice will probably win. However, whatever happens could be merely a way to give an image of democracy while the real moves may take place in advance. Azeri president Aliev, strengthened by the American support and his contract of the century, could also benefit from an insurrection in Iran, where there is a significant Azeri minority.

Former US National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and his former assistant for the Middle East, William B. Quandt, analyze in the Washington Post and in the Gulf News the statements by George W. Bush on the occasion of Mahmud Abbas’s visit to Washington. They express their satisfaction for the return of the US president to the traditional position of their country in regards to the final status between Israelis and Palestinians: a return to the 1967 borders. In effect, the US president affirmed in April 2004 that those borders could not delimitate both territories and that it was necessary to take into account the “reality of the field”, that is, the settlements. Now, Washington has changed its strategy and wants Israel to obey - a position that pleases both Democrats.
In the Daily Star, the researcher of the US Institute of Peace and former advisor to Al Gore, Scott Lasensky, says that Israelis and Palestinians are close to a final solution. However, in order to achieve it, the United States should support the integration of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority to make the peace process possible. It is also necessary to continue pressuring Israel so that it finally accepts facing the settlers and dismantles the settlements in the West Bank. However, he warns that Hamas should not carry out more attacks.
Faced with the US change of position, Ariel Sharon uses the withdrawal from Gaza as a means to buy some time and consolidate Israel’s control in the West Bank. This topic is a subject of discussion in Ha’aretz.
Daniel Levy, a collaborator of Yossi Beilin, denounces the use of of the withdrawal from Gaza by Ariel Sharon. He believes that the Israeli Prime Minister will indefinitely extend the discussion with the Palestinians about the Gaza withdrawal, making emphasis on the problems. Although we endorse this analysis, we have many more doubts about the solution recommended by the author, imbued with the ambiguity that we frequently find in the editors of the initiative of Geneva. In order to face this maneuver, the author urges the Palestinian Authority and the International Quartet to make more concessions to Israel. So that Israel extends the process, Tel Aviv has to be offered more.
Zalman Shoval, a former advisor to Ariel Sharon, perfectly illustrates how the Gaza withdrawal is used to obstruct any negotiation with the Palestinians. The author says that the Palestinians probably see the Gaza withdrawal as a victory of terrorism. Thus, Israel should expect a wave of attacks or violent actions from the Palestinians, which would prevent the reactivation of the peace process.
This debate exasperates Meron Benvenisti. He believes it is a false debate; an opposition among Zionist groups who agree on the essential issues, who have always backed the settlers and who do not care about the fate of the Palestinians. However, the debate has an advantage: it shows the Israelis that the arguments of those who support and those who oppose the withdrawal have the same foundation, which allows destroying the myth of confrontation in the eyes of the Israelis.