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Emerging reports indicate that oil-rich Azerbaijan now has a new first vice president: Mehriban Aliyeva, the wife of sitting President Ilham Aliyev.
The presidential order that appointed Aliyeva to the position was announced during a routine meeting of the Security Council, according to the nation’s official press service.
The First Lady takes the position just five months after constitutional reforms extended presidential term lengths to seven years, and introduced two separate vice presidential offices, including that of first vice president—a position that would take over the presidency if the president cannot perform the duties of that office.
Fifty-two year-old Aliyeva become a member of parliament in 2008 and serves as deputy chairperson of the ruling New Azerbeijan Party. Leaked documents revealed that those who witnessed her at work were not impressed with her attendance or general knowledge.
“Embassy monitors, who have attended nearly every session over the past year, have never seen her present in Parliament,” a 2010 WikiLeaks document reads. “When she received Members of Congress in 2008, she appeared poorly informed about political issues and could only respond knowledgeably about issues relating to the Heydar Aliyev Fund.”
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Azerbaijan is in the midst of the construction of the Trans-Adriatic pipeline, which will allow the nation to exploit its greatest source of wealth: its Caspian Sea natural gas deposits. The country plans to export the fuel to Europe, where nations adopting the terms of the Paris climate change agreement – the same nations losing political leverage to President Vladimir Putin by importing Russian crude – stand ready to accept a steady flow of the “greener” fossil fuel.
The pipeline’s route, however, passes through ancient olive groves and over pristine beaches in the Italian region of Puglia, which relies on that bucolic landscape for its major industry—tourism. This has created a standoff between global energy interests and local environmental activists.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…