Our Analytics 16 june — 13:04

Gultekin does not live by oil alone (Topical reflections)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Social networks continue to broadcast extravagant stories from the meeting of Ali Karimli's kitchen revolutionary committee (Revcom), a plush protest movement, squeezed into a narrow square of home gatherings. At the last meeting, petrels of the revolution were discussing the situation in the global oil market.

Gultekin Hajibeyli (formerly Hajiyeva) announced to the meeting participants: 'Lord, what a joy! I want to congratulate you all on the stunning news! The price of oil has fallen to $14.' A strange, vulgar smug smirk appears on the possessed faces of the oppositionists. It was as if they had been informed of a multi-million rally in the forgotten Lenin revolution square. Or the reincarnation of the forgotten hero of the utopian past -- Elchibey.

However, our Inessa Armand -- the mother of a faded Azerbaijani revolutionary spring -- in her usual vulgar, obscene tone, continued to broadcast about the oil curse: 'I am waiting for congratulations from Jamil Hasanli! Our unforgettable chairman! (the chairman is formal, everyone knows that the revolutionary committee is controlled by Karimli). Oil is over.' Jamil Hasanli, a provincial historian with a terrifying office sickness, in an equally vulgar and obscene tone, supported the squeamish-sarcastic tone of Madame Hajiyeva, who had become obsolete from walking in agony: 'Excuse me! A little early with congratulations. I will congratulate you after the oil sinks to the bottom. This is not the bottom.' The professor's deep thought delights his counterpart. 'It's slipping, it's fragile,' Ganimat Zahid tried to make a joke...

The question is, why is the crisis in the world oil market causing the enthusiasm of the opposition?! What kind of unseen joy?

New broadcast of the Revcom

Everything is very banal and primitive. For some reason, the opposition has convinced itself that world oil prices predetermine political stability in Azerbaijan. And a decrease in oil revenues can create problems with transfers from the stabilisation fund to the budget, which will cause social tension in the country. The worse for the country, the better for the opposition. Revcom thus expects to expand the protest movement and cause political unrest in Azerbaijan. Demonstration of an open hostile attitude towards the whole country. Of course, such hostility, in which all means justify the only and vicious goal -- the overthrow of unwanted power -- does not bring any honour to the opposition camp. Although what honour are we talking about? How the great bard sang there: 'it is annoying to me that the word honour is forgotten.' In the riffraff ranks of obscene people with vulgar faces, the word honour has long been forgotten. However, let us examine the relationship between the hopes of the opposition and the role of fallen oil prices and its influence on systemic stability and the positions of those in power in terms of political pragmatism. Let's say the price of Azerbaijani oil drops to the Texas level during the climax of the COVID-19 regime. Suppose Azerbaijan has income problems. Let's say they begin to spend the country's foreign exchange reserves. Suppose we get an economy with a negative balance of payments and a budget deficit and get into debt... Does the opposition really count on using this toolkit -- objective and natural problems -- to achieve a general uprising and a coup d'etat?!

Based on this concept of the opposition, then Aliyev's power was to be replaced in 2003. With an oil price of $28, in addition to a minimal state budget and numerous social problems in the country, the Azerbaijani opposition, with its systemic institutional political strength, foreign political support and financial resources, managed to take no more than 5,000 people to the streets on the day of the decisive political battle. The national democrats (including Ali Karimli with his Popular Front, who crossed from the authorities to the opposition) suffered the same political collapse even at the peak of the popularisation of the orange post-Soviet permanent revolution in 2005. Let me remind you, these were the times long before the era of big oil and strategic revenues of the state. As the early period of the opposition's confrontation with Aliyev's authorities showed, social problems and even economic turmoil do not mean the transformation of social discontent of certain groups and even classes into a political protest movement. A little later, in the winter of 2007, the opposition tried to take advantage of social problems in the country, parasitising on rising utility prices. Musavat tried to hold a series of actions in protest of the increase in gas and water prices. Failure again. On the outskirts of the city -- Ukraine Avenue (as if symbolising the onset of the Ukrainian era), Musavat gathered a miserable handful of supporters under its shabby decrepit banners. The people did not come out again.

Over the years, opposition rallies looked so pathetic

People may be worried and perplexed by the decline in oil prices, realising the role of oil revenues in the formation of the state budget. But this concern does not affect the political attitude towards the authorities. And especially towards the opposition. Even if sometimes the opposition expresses the assessments and slogans that people crave to hear. If we talk about assessments, recently the most intransigent and critical voice has become the voice of the president himself. No one speaks more sharply, relevant and bright about the country's problems than Ilham Aliyev himself. The president openly talks about the country's problems: corruption, injustice, the arbitrariness of the bureaucratic class, and violation of the social rights of citizens. Aliyev increasingly calls for abandoning the oil strategy, directing the full potential of his government to the development of the non-oil industry.

The opposition is aware that for most of Azerbaijani society, Ilham Aliyev has no alternative. And this same majority does not extrapolate problems to political power. Even a person most dissatisfied with the social and political situation in the country hardly imagines an alternative to the current president. And this is the main success of the authorities.

And if we follow the logic of the opposition, which has been encouraged by a temporary drop in oil prices, and counting on a hypothetical occurrence of social tension that could develop into political resistance, then why did the unexpected revolutionary wave shock the most prosperous Arab country -- Libya? And on the other hand, why didn't this political resistance arise in one of the poorest and most unsettled Arab countries -- Morocco?

Finally, the proud and invincible Venezuela is the most eloquent example for poorly educated opposition amateurs. Squeezed in the grip of sanctions and the most powerful pressure from Washington, which even recognised the leader of the opposition as the head of state, a country where over 90 per cent of the population complains of malnutrition, strongly stands behind its president. The powerful Western world did not succeed in displacing the objectionable politician only because most of the people, loyal supporters and the army stood behind him. The modern world is replete with such examples: from Cuba to China, from Iran to Jordan...

In a live broadcast Azerbaijani oppositionists personally demonstrate their incompetence and misunderstanding of the political process. The entire ideological and political concept of the opponents of the Azerbaijani government is based on the possibility of a spontaneous social protest that could hypothetically develop into political resistance. Moreover, in the imagination of opposition analysts, Azerbaijan is somehow alienated from global and regional political processes. And applicants for the highest power consider the situation in the country in isolation from global politics.

In history, revolutions did not happen like that. In the modern world, revolutions do not happen like that.

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