Elkhan Mehtiyev

Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)

 Seventh Annual Conference

The Challenge of Democracy in the Muslim World

Abstract

Elkhan Mehtiyev, (Problems of Democracy in Azerbaijan:  Oil or Muslim factor?), The paper outlines the root causes of problems contributing to Azerbaijani democracy analyzing the developments in the society and in the ruling elite of Azerbaijan/>/>. The impact of Islam or oil to growing authoritarianism and corruption in Azerbaijan and reluctance of the ruling regime to have free elections have been dominant for the past years for both  international and domestic experts. Being a Muslim country with rich energy resources has placed Azerbaijan/> in a unique situation as the country is a Council of Europe’s member and has close ties with NATO and United States/>/>. But the tendencies going on in the political development of the country is nothing different from the Middle Eastern autocracies and gives no optimism for democracy in the near future.  Rise and revival of Islam in a once communist republic has led to chaotic and illiterate understanding of true Islam and especially among youth which could be additional problems for peaceful development and democracy in the nearest future. The paper will try to analyze the role of external powers specifically United States/> and EU in promoting democracy in Azerbaijan/>/> bringing specific cases and examples, assessing different roles of different institutions. Prevailing security interests over democracy and by this way support of authoritarians in the region and repeat of the Middle Eastern experience in early XX century towards oil rich Azerbaijan/>/> and ignorance of free elections and the rule of law bodes not optimism in a growing Muslim society with heavily corrupted government. Restriction of political freedom and chaotic spread of different Islamic trends and lack of religious policy in Azerbaijan/>/> has already triggered sharp debates and questions in support of harmony of Islam and democracy in Azerbaijani society. The paper is going to summarize the ongoing development in the given filed.

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