BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
It seems Ilham Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, are not the only couple with a hold on Azerbaijan. The US State Department has its own Baku-pandering super couple in the form of James and Mary Warlick.
For years, James Warlick, who is better known as the Twitter-happy former US-Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, made sure to appease Azerbaijan in his approach to the Karabakh conflict. From using pro-Azerbaijani lexicon (“occupied territories”) to advocating for Azeris to share water from the Sarsang Reservoir (Azerbaijan’s main target in the April attacks) Warlick was a US diplomat with, shall we say, varied interests.
While serving as the US Co-Chair, James Warlick’s wife, Mary, a career diplomat with a focus on Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia (according to the State Dept. bio), served as the State Department’s Special Envoy for the Bureau of Energy Resources and in January was re-appointed to that position on an interim basis.
Mary Warlick on Wednesday was a keynote speaker at the United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce annual conference on US-Azeri relations discussing the Trans Caucasus corridor, the main supply route for Baku energy wealth.
The two-day conference entitled, ”Looking Ahead: Diplomacy, Business, Trade & Investment Celebrating 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations,” focuses on “recent economic reforms, investment environment, public-private partnerships, trade and commercial opportunities for American companies in Azerbaijan, particularly in agriculture, agribusiness, food processing, chemical/petrochemical industry and renewable energy,” according to the event’s website.
One has to wonder by how much was James Warlick’s approach to Artsakh predicated on Mary Warlick’s work within the energy sector, which included the “US’s great partner Azerbaijan.”
While neither the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce nor the Azerbaijani press has covered the specifics of Mary Warlick’s speech, her participation in the conference as a keynote speaker indicates that she would be cheering Baku’s efforts within the energy sector. Asbarez will be following this story, with a special interest on whether Mary Warlick warns the USACC about the deplorable human rights conditions in Azerbaijan, Baku’s continued aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted by its most recent attack on Artsakh positions over the weekend and the recent kerfuffle over the Israeli-Russian blogger Aleksander Lapshin, who was extradited to Baku by Belarus to face criminal charges for visiting Artsakh.
Despite the fact that James Warlick announced in November that he would step down to take a post at a Russian law firm, he continued to provide his sage input on the matter this past week after Azerbaijani forces launched the largest attack against Karabakh since April.
On February 28, he told Voice of America Armenian Service that all sides must respect the cease fire and called for peace in the region, once again failing to criticize Azerbaijan for its continued military aggression. How could he? His wife was due to speak at the USACC conference the next day.
Let’s hope that President Trump’s executive order banning lobbyists from serving in government posts once and for all will rid the State Department of these dual-interest—double-agent—apparatchiks.
Footnote on Another Pro-Baku Couple
A week after the Huffington Post published a critical piece about Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev appointing his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, as Azerbaijan’s first Vice-President and his successor, the same self-proclaimed left-leaning liberal publication published a piece praising that very appointment as a step forward for women’s inclusion on the world stage.
The problem is that the author of the piece, Dr. Mallory Moss Katz, is the wife of Jason Katz of the Tool Shed Group LLC, a lobbying firm being paid by Azerbaijan to promote its agenda in the US.