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Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev

Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev was born in December 24, 1961, in Baku. He attended a secondary school in Baku from 1967 till 1977. In 1977, he entered the Moscow State University of International Relations (MSUIR). In 1982, upon his graduation, Mr. Aliyev had continued his education as a postgraduate student in MSUIR. In 1985, he finalized his research works and received a PhD degree in history. During the years of 1985-1990, he gave lectures at the Moscow State University of International Relations.

In 1994-2003, he was the vice-president, and later the first vice-president of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). He had been actively involved in the implementation of Heydar Aliyev's oil strategy. He is an author of numerous research works on geopolitical aspects of oil strategy of sovereign Azerbaijan. He holds a degree of doctor of political sciences.

In 1995 and 2000, he was twice elected to the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 2003, he stopped his activity as a Member of Parliament due to his appointment to the post of Prime minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Since 1997, Mr. Ilham Aliyev is the President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan. For his contribution to the development of sports and Olympic movement, Mr. Aliyev was awarded the highest order of International Olympic Committee and "Grand Cordon" Order of Merit of International Military Sport Council.

He has been elected deputy chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party in 1999, first deputy chairman in 2001, and the chairman of the Party in 2005. From 2001 to 2003, he was the head of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary delegation to Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE). In April of 2004, Mr. Aliyev was awarded a medal and diploma of honorable member of PACE for his active participation in PACE events and commitment to European values. In January 2003, he was elected as Deputy-Chairman of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe and member of the PACE bureau.

In August 4 2003, following the approval of the Milli Majlis (Parliament), he was appointed as the Prime minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan. On 15 October 2003, he was elected as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, concurrent with his father's death, in an election marked by a lack of competition and debate. More than 76% of voters supported Ilham Aliyev's candidacy during the elections. He assumed his post on 31 October 2003. He assumed the presidency at a time when Azerbaijan's re-developed oil and gas resources were being brought on line for export.

lham Aliyev inherited a newly independent, resource-rich state, brought to order in the post-Soviet era by this father, Heydar Aliyev, scarred by a catastrophic war with Armenia that resulted in occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and seven surrounding Azerbaijani regions. Dogged by widespread doubts about his suitability for leadership based on his age (then 41), lack of achievements and a "playboy" image, he oversaw the launch of a one million-barrels-per-day oil pipeline, which has flooded official and unofficial coffers in Baku and serves as the financial backbone of the country.

The President and his cohorts, who largely were carried over from his father's administration, now seek predictability, stability and continuity to preserve and protect public and private fortunes. Ilham Aliyev was elected to the second term of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, after acquiring 88% of votes of electorate in the elections, held on October 15, 2008. He started to execute the Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on October 24, 2008. Ilham Aliyev's landslide 2008 re-election was followed by a hastily-called March 2009 referendum, which among other things removed term limits for the President.

Aliyev's cabinet has changed very little over the years, with few "reformers" brought in or remaining in power. The Prime Minister position is largely ceremonial and weak. Because of family connections, dynastic succession, the strong arming of the opposition and the creation of an elaborate patronage/protection network, the Aliyev Administration has developed an "organized crime" image in some quarters, leading some analysts to see Ilham Aliyev at times in a mafia-like role.

President Aliyev inherited from his father a clever, realistic foreign policy that he has largely maintained. With the overarching goal of maintaining and increasing Azerbaijan's independence and sovereignty, he encourages involvement with NATO and Euro-Atlantic security and political structures and supports a policy of westward transit of Azerbaijani oil and gas through non-Russian channels. Otherwise, though, he alternates between assertiveness and appeasement where his powerful neighbors Russia and Iran are concerned.

For all of the cool-headed calculation that generally influences Aliyev's foreign policy, his domestic policies are another matter. As Aliyev perceives a challenge to his authority or affronts to his family dignity, even minor ones, he and his inner circle are apt to react (or overreact), much to the detriment of the country's democratic development and movement toward Western alliances. Ilham Aliyev is not inclined to subtlety or deliberation in his response to these kinds of issues.

Aliyev takes the actions he does in order to eliminate even the semblance of risk to his political prominence. His goal appears to be a political environment in which the Aliyev dynasty is unchallenged, which was demonstrated by the hastily organized March 2009 constitutional referendum removing presidential term limits. This strangled the hopes of any and all pretenders to succession, including his wife (who in Azeri politics is thought of as a rival Pashayev, not an Aliyev). The dissonance between Aliyev's sensible approach to foreign affairs, manifested by the cosmopolitan image he presents to Western visitors, with his tailored suits and flawless English, and the unpleasant reality of his approach to domestic issues raises the obvious question of how these two realities coexist. One explanation is that Aliyev is insecure in domestic politics and relies heavily on the advice of old-line Soviet-style political figures carried forward from his father's administration.

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