Amidst a Restless Middle East, a Terror Threat in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is not known for terrorism, religious fanaticism, or even violence. A day in Azerbaijan is highlighted by car accidents, oil agreements, and the occasional journalist imprisonment. So when I received an email from the Baku Consular section out of the US Embassy here yesterday, it was a bit of a surprise to see that I was being warned of potential terrorist attacks:
The State Department, based on terrorist threat information, alerts U.S. citizens of the potential for attacks in Azerbaijan, including against American interests. U.S. citizens in Azerbaijan should remain vigilant, particularly in public places associated with the Western community. In addition, U.S. citizens should remain aware of their surroundings, be vigilant about their personal security, maintain an unpredictable daily schedule, and vary the routes used to travel to and from their places of work and residence.
The USA Today appears to have gotten a hold of the story, as well.There are really very few things here that lead me to think there might be an imminent terrorist attack. The first is that we share a border with Iran. Any religiously-inspired attack might come from those neighbors to the south. The second cause might be an act perpetrated by frustrated Azerbaijani citizens, expressing their distaste for their current situation by targeting the Azerbaijani government’s most valued international friends. It’s not hard to see that the government works very hard on its international relations, but much less so on domestic issues, and a frustrated Azeri populace isn’t unrealistic.
Last, I suppose this threat is coming against a backdrop of unrest in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Jordan (and who else will we add to this list?) While I hope things go well for people of those countries, and that they try to remain as peaceful as possible in their protests, I’m sure that there are a few ties between people of those countries and the people of Azerbaijan. The government situation here is slightly different, and the lives of the people here are generally not pushed towards violence or rioting, but at this point, who knows?
Mom: Don’t worry. I feel very safe right now, and am fairly certain that attacks, if any, would take place in Baku, not Lənkəran.