Azerbaijan’s recent move to indefinitely postpone joint military exercises with the United States is a sign that bilateral strategic ties are stagnating, analysts in Baku believe. Some wonder whether the social-network-inspired unrest that has swept the Middle East and North Africa, and which has also touched Azerbaijan, played a role in Baku’s decision.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry on April 20 announced the postponement of “Regional Response-2011,” without citing a reason. The joint military exercises had been scheduled for May 15-25. Last year, Baku also pulled out of similar exercises.
Asked to explain the reason for the move, Defense Ministry representative Eldar Sabiroglu told EuraisaNet.org that the ministry is not involved in politics – a turn of phrase that indicated that the postponement was not the ministry’s decision. Sabiroglu also insisted that the exercises had not been cancelled, saying that the maneuvers, instead, “are postponed for an uncertain term.”
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation-Azerbaijan.