The recent recall of the recess-appointed American Ambassador to Azerbaijan is just another mis-step in our relations with a very important ally, Azerbaijan. The diplomat in waiting, Mathew Bryza, had to return from Baku after the Senate blocked the confirmation of this clearly qualified emissary. Appointed by President Obama during last year’s legislative break, Ambassador Bryza’s posting expired, and now this important Embassy posting returns to its unacceptably long “vacant” status.
As a former member of the House, I understand local politics and the need to represent certain constituents, but as a former member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I believe we must always put the national interest first. Azerbaijan is a proven ally, and forging a good relationship with this emerging power in the South Caucasus is clearly in America’s best interest. There is no room for partisanship when we conduct our country’s foreign policy.
With a population of a little over 9 million, Azerbaijan has sought to align itself with the United States since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The nation, roughly the size of Maine, is located on the Western Shores of the Caspian Sea. The strategic importance of this location has been recognized since the time of the Silk Road and is highlighted by today’s need to move materiel and troops to and from NATO forces in Afghanistan and makes it of profound geopolitical significance.