Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 22

Azerbaijan President Haidar Aliev’s return to Baku and active duty, following medical treatment in Turkey, will probably not defuse the questions about his actual condition and a probable incipient scramble for succession. Aliev underwent treatment at Turkey’s Gulhane Military Medical Academy as a personal guest of President Suleyman Demirel. The treatment, which lasted from January 17-30, was twice as long as originally announced. The official diagnosis of bronchitis has not disproved the speculation that the 75-year old president might suffer from a cardiac ailment as a sequel of his 1987 infarct. Aliev’s numerous if weakened opponents, both in Azerbaijan and abroad, have–in reaction to the president’s ailment–intensified their political activities.

This renewed activity among Aliev’s exiled adversaries was especially noteworthy during the president’s absence from the country. Mahir Javadov, co-leader of the OPON’s 1995 abortive coup, resurfaced in neighboring Iran to instigate rebellion from there (see the Monitor, January 28). In Moscow, former KGB chief Vahit Huseinov has announced a plan to create an opposition party inside Azerbaijan. The effort will reportedly to focus on Vahit Huseinov’s native region of Guba-Husar. Also in Moscow, former Azerbaijani Communist Party leader and republic president Ayaz Mutalibov has given several interviews to Baku media outlets. He is said by supporters inside Azerbaijan to be considering a comeback attempt. His supporters plan to create a pro-Mutalibov party as well (525 Gazety, January 29; Yeni Musavat, January 30, cited by Turan Press Review, January 29-30). In Washington, exiled former Chairman of Parliament Rasul Guliev let it be known through supporters in Baku that he is prepared under certain circumstances to return within one month (Azadlyg, January 30, cited by Turan press review, January 30). Guliev operates through the Democratic Party in Azerbaijan.

The main opposition parties in Baku have shown restraint during Aliev’s absence. At the same time, the looming issue of regime succession has accentuated the preexisting competition among opposition leaders–preeminently Musavat leader Isa Gambar, Popular Front leader Abulfaz Elchibey and the runner-up in the 1998 presidential election, Etibar Mamedov. The main contentious issues concern the leadership of the nominally united opposition and a joint candidacy in a pre-term presidential election, should such an election become necessary (Hurriet, January 30, cited by Turan press review, January 30).

The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions