An article published by the Newsweek on Sunday points out concerns among Western decision-makers on the possible outcome of Arab uprisings in the Middle East, intensified by the prospect that similar unrest could overtake other parts of the globe.
“This is like Eastern Europe in the 1990s…You take the lid off, and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” a senior US intelligence official was cited in “When Strongmen Become Straw Men” as saying.
The article notices how a bronze statue of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is being protected in a park in the middle of Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, whereas the dictator’s rule in his homeland was toppled by a popular revolution.
A number of US media reports had earlier pointed to similar issues regarding the popular protests in Azerbaijan, but Azeri authorities have ruled out any analogy between the condition in the crisis-hit Arab nations and the status quo in the former Soviet republic.
Azerbaijan’s Yeni Musavat newspaper wrote about recent popular gatherings in villages around the cities of Sabirabad and Saatli in protest at the government’s failure to resolve problems caused by a flood in the region nine months ago.
Following the protests, the headquarters of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party in Sabirabad was torched and burned into ashes.
Political analysts described the move as a purposeful act by government agents, aiming to create an air of coercion and intimidation and pave the way to arrest opposition activists and protesters.
Azerbaijan has also been the scene of a series of rallies against the controversial issue of a hijab ban in the country, where nearly 98 percent of the people are Muslim.
Azerbaijan’s Muslims also blame the growing secularism in the country on Tel Aviv and see Israel as being behind anti-Islamic programs during the Shia mourning month of Muharram and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.