The Senate confirmation process for the Obama administration’s nominee as US envoy to Azerbaijan appears stuck in neutral. Experts believe that the confirmation has become entangled in partisan politics.
The ambassadorial post in Azerbaijan, a key strategic partner for Washington, has been vacant for the past 15 months. In late May, the White House nominated to the post Matthew Bryza, a seasoned South Caucasus diplomatic hand who was widely believed to be favored by the Azerbaijani government.
But those contacts – via energy and mediation of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute – proved to play against Bryza’s confirmation. US-based Armenian diaspora groups have lobbied actively against his appointment, pushing several senators to question whether his close ties to the Azerbaijani government might cloud influence his diplomatic behavior. [For details, see the EurasiaNet.org archive].
Discussions in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are expected to continue on September 21.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku. He is also a board member of the Open Society Institute-Azerbaijan.