The Azerbaijani parliament has affirmed the proposal by Yeni Azerbaijan, the ruling party, on letting the parliament go. This happened along with the visit of the Russian foreign minister to Baku, which is interesting, considering that the proposal on letting the parliament go was made immediately after the official visit of Mehriban Aliyeva to Moscow. It was the first official visit of the first vice president of Azerbaijan to Moscow during which she met with President Putin. Obviously, Aliyeva’s first visit is the first test on her way from first lady to head of state and the appraisal will be made by Lavrov in Baku.
The dominant opinion on the domestic developments in Azerbaijan is that Ilham Aliyev is handing power to Mehriban Aliyeva. The new parliament is actually seen in the context of preparing the ground for Mehriban Aliyeva’s presidency.
Aliyeva was in Moscow for approval, which is interesting itself. Why in Moscow if not in Ankara, at the big brother’s? Is approval guaranteed there and there is no such issue or is the main problem the strong need for change of the head of state due to the situation relating to Artsakh as Ilham Aliyev and his diplomacy have led this issue into a deadlock since April 2016 and further after the velvet revolution in Armenia. Importantly, he dragged Moscow behind him and after the revolution Yerevan has put forth other approaches to its bilateral relations with Moscow, at the same time clearly defining the responsibility for war in advance.
At the same time, the situation deepens the power crisis in Azerbaijan where Aliyev has been building public identity and legitimacy of the government on anti-Armenian sentiment and expectation of an inevitable victory in war, and Mehriban Aliyeva is not just the first lady but the representative of the second major government clan in Azerbaijan.
In this situation all she can do is make a deal with Moscow on the roadmap of Ilham Aliyev’s departure, the first step being the dissolution of the parliament before Lavrov’s arrival in Baku.