Azerbaijan's President Makes Wife Vice President
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev just made his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, vice president.
This sounds a lot like Frank and Claire Underwood, except these aren't fictional characters — they're the head of a family that's dominated Azeri politics for decades.
In fact, a pro-government lawyer in Azerbaijan reportedly defended the choice to make Aliyev's wife vice-president by citing the fact Trump had given Jared Kushner (Ivanka Trump's husband) a top role in the White House.
Ilham Aliyev has ruled Azerbaijan since his father, Heydar Aliyev, died in 2003.
His father first ruled over Azerbaijan as the Communist Party boss and then became the first post-Soviet president.
The vice presidential position was created after a constitutional referendum in Azerbaijan in September — the referendum also extended the presidential term from five years to seven and removed the age requirement for president, so Aliyev's 19-year-old son can now run.
So, it sounds a lot like Azerbaijan's president changed the constitution so he could make his wife vice president.
Prior to being named the country's vice president, Mehriban Aliyeva served as a lawmaker and ran a charity.
By appointing his wife as vice president, Ilham Aliyev further solidified his family's grasp on the oil-rich, pro-Western nation.
Long story short, this is an extremely undemocratic move in a nation already plagued by corruption that's frequently decried by human rights groups for its consistent violations.
Ali Kerimli, who leads one of the opposition parties in Azerbaijan, told Reuters,
It's the first step to the establishment of an absolute monarchy in the country.
In particular, Azerbaijan has a tendency to crackdown on free press. It's definitely not a good place to be a journalist or have opinions.
Out of 180 countries, Azerbaijan ranked 163 on the 2016 World Press Freedom Index.
But, in spite of its human rights abuses and lack of respect for democracy, the US has a close relationship with Azerbaijan.
The primary answer is a three-letter word that rhymes with "boil."
Yes, you guessed it: oil!
Azerbaijan has extensive offshore oil reserves in the Caspian Sea, which US companies have invested heavily in.
There's also the fact that it's in a very important geographic location, in the Caucasus — the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
Azerbaijan's government has also stood with the US against terrorism, and was also critical of Russia in its quarrels with Georgia (its neighbor) and its military intervention in Ukraine.
The country is predominately Muslim, but was not included on Trump's controversial travel ban list.
Trump was criticized for this, due to the fact he has business ties in Azerbaijan, among other majority Muslim countries.
Indeed, America relationship with Azerbaijan is definitely something to watch, especially under Trump.
Let's just hope Trump doesn't get any bright ideas from Aliyev and try to change the US Constitution to make Melania (or more likely, Ivanka) vice president.