Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 85

Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev underwent open-heart surgery on April 29 in the Cleveland Clinic, a leading institution in the United States and the world in the field of cardiac medicine. Aliev is reportedly due to convalesce for up to two weeks.

The surgery, according to the official communique, had not been planned. Government authorities have long denied that Aliev suffered from any serious heart problems. Last January, the president underwent medical treatment in Turkey for what was officially described as bronchitis (see the Monitor, January 18, February 2). In February, the renowned American surgeon Michael DeBakey visited Baku and was received by Aliev for the official purpose of discussing the possible establishment of a cardiological clinic in Baku. Any connection to the president’s heart problems was officially denied both times.

In Baku, Aliev’s medical condition will undoubtedly trigger a wave of political speculations regarding his succession and a new round of jockeying for position, mainly among competing opposition parties, but probably also within the governing New Azerbaijan Party. The situation will undoubtedly evoke concern in Georgia, Turkey and other pro-Western countries (AFP, Turan, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry communique, April 30, May 1).