In the runup to the presidential election, which they threaten to boycott, Azerbaijani opposition parties and their newspapers have recently raised the issue of alleged Kurdish infiltration of Azerbaijan. A spate of articles in the opposition press claim that supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are moving into Azerbaijan and the capital Baku, and are creating “separatist” and “terrorist” centers there. The articles suggest that the Azerbaijani government closes its eyes to Kurdish activities directed against Turkey.
In a reaction published yesterday, the National Security Ministry dismissed the allegations as “completely baseless” and “aiming to stir up ethnic strife.” The NSM likewise rejected the charge that Kurds were infiltrating government and law-enforcement agencies. Opposition presidential aspirant and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar responded by insisting that Azerbaijan faces a “threat of Kurdish terrorism.” (Turan, August 3) Rather than seeking ethnic strife, the opposition apparently aims to refocus public attention onto a side issue, demonstrate its Turkic credentials, win circles in Turkey over to its cause, and inject an element of uncertainty in official relations between Baku and Ankara.
FRENCH RESOURCES HEADED DOWN THE STRAITS?