BAKU: Islamic Party calls for pull-out of troops from Iraq, Afghan.

Azeri Islamic Party calls for pull-out of troops from Iraq, Afghanistan

Ekho, Baku
1 Apr 04

Terrorist attacks may be made against Azerbaijan, if its troops are
not withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Islamic Party of
Azerbaijan has said. The Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan,
another member of the left-of-centre Union of Azerbaijanist Forces,
said that allowing the USA to deploy its troops in Azerbaijan may
result in a regional conflict. The union called for a balanced policy,
“which must not negatively affect relations with Russia and Iran”.
The following is the text of R. Orucev’s report by Azerbaijani
newspaper Ekho on 1 April headlined ” Islamists warn about possible
terrorist attacks against Azerbaijan and suggest immediate withdrawal
of our peacekeepers from Iraq and Afghanistan”; subheadings inserted

Yesterday’s session of the left-of-centre Union of Azerbaijanist
Forces [UAF] has proven productive. The gathering brought together
leaders of the Unity Party, Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan
[SDPA] and the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan [IPA].

US troops in Azerbaijan

The USA intends to station soon its mobile troops in Azerbaijan, and
this runs counter to the state interests and security concerns of
Azerbaijan, the leaders of the three parties said yesterday [31
March]. The American objective is not protecting the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, but rather “the true US goal is to
complete the blockade of Iran”. They believe that the USA plans to
launch an attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran. “This may
result in a conflict in our region, and Russia may take part in it,”
the [co-]chairman of the SDPA, Elsan Manafov, said.

Azerbaijani Defence Minister Safar Abiyev’s visit to the USA was not
successful, since he mainly met third and fourth-level officials [as
published] in the Congress, Pentagon and State Department, the UAF
said. However, the visit in itself shows that the USA has some plans
about deploying its mobile subunits in Azerbaijan. That Russia’s State
Duma discusses this issue is further confirmation of this, as “Moscow
certainly has quite accurate reports in this regard”.

Regional developments and balanced policy

The recent municipal elections in Turkey showed that Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s [Justice and Development] Party enjoys large
support among the public. The Turkish voters voted for the ruling
party and the UAF believes that this will not affect Turkey’s policy
towards regional states.

However, taking into consideration the European Union’s pressure on
Turkey and US Deputy State Secretary Richard Armitage’s remarks in
Baku (that the Turkey-Armenia border has to be opened), the UAF
reckons that the resolution of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict will
drag on, and sooner or later Turkey may take a decision which goes
against Azerbaijan’s interests. Therefore, the Azerbaijani government
should conduct a clearly balanced foreign policy, which must not
negatively affect relations with Russia and Iran.

The union had predicted the outcome of the parliamentary election in
Georgia, but [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s National
Movement did to some extent falsify the election results to achieve a
landslide victory. The UAF believes that Georgia’s Labour Party and
Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze’s Revival union did pass the 7-per-cent
threshold. Some international observers too have reported that.

Azerbaijani president’s reshuffle welcomed

The union welcomed the reshuffle carried out by the Azerbaijani
president, which replaced the heads of five districts. “If the
president is forming a new team capable of carrying out social and
economic reforms in the districts, then we welcome those steps,” the
UAF leaders said.

The union also supported the initiative of several MPs from the ruling
[New Azerbaijan] Party to begin drafting a law on amnesties. On the
other hand, the union deems it unnecessary to tie this event with
[late President] Heydar Aliyev’s birthday or with the name of any
other statesman.

Threat of terrorist attacks

Certain forces who resent the country’s participation in the
anti-Iraqi coalition stand behind the terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan,
said the secretary general of the IPA, Rovsan Ahmadli. “The
Azerbaijani leadership should hurry to pull out its troops from Iraq
and Afghanistan. Otherwise, it cannot be ruled out that there may be
terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan,” Ahmadli said.