The Two Faces of Azerbaijan’s Mr. Aliyev

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan does a masterful political Jekyll and Hyde. A cable from the American ambassador to Baku released on WikiLeaks described him as a Michael Corleone-Sonny Corleone figure — referring, respectively, to the coolly calculating and the impetuously violent brothers of the “Godfather” mafia family. Mr. Aliyev is “pro-Western” in many of the ways the West admires: He is suave, well dressed and well spoken in English; he is ready to send his country’s ample supplies of oil and gas to Europe and to Israel; his Islam is moderate and modern; and he hosts lavish international events like the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 and the European Games to be held next June.

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