What do Azerbaijan, Estonia, and Rwanda have in common?

Not very much, you say? Au contraire! All three countries, it seems, have presidents who are prone to picking fights on Twitter. First Rwandan President Paul Kagame unloaded on journalist Ian Birrell over human rights criticisms. Then Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves ripped into columnist Paul Krugman for calling his country the "poster child for ...

MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images

Not very much, you say? Au contraire! All three countries, it seems, have presidents who are prone to picking fights on Twitter. First Rwandan President Paul Kagame unloaded on journalist Ian Birrell over human rights criticisms. Then Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves ripped into columnist Paul Krugman for calling his country the "poster child for austerity defenders." Now Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, has unleashed a tirade against neighboring Armenia (the two countries are locked in a long-simmering dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region).

Here are some  of Aliyev's tweets from earlier today:

 

Not very much, you say? Au contraire! All three countries, it seems, have presidents who are prone to picking fights on Twitter. First Rwandan President Paul Kagame unloaded on journalist Ian Birrell over human rights criticisms. Then Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves ripped into columnist Paul Krugman for calling his country the "poster child for austerity defenders." Now Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, has unleashed a tirade against neighboring Armenia (the two countries are locked in a long-simmering dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region).

Here are some  of Aliyev’s tweets from earlier today:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The salvos have provoked a sharp response from at least one Armenian official. "Aliyev shows by his cynical proclamations that there are still supporters of fascism in the 21st century," Eduard Sharmazanov, the Armenian parliament’s deputy chairman, tells AFP, adding that "his remarks recall the 1930s-1940s and [Nazi leader Adolf] Hitler."

Aliyev’s tweets today appear to be lifted verbatim from a speech he gave last week to mark the 20th anniversary of his New Azerbaijan Party — an address that received little attention outside Azerbaijan at the time. Since the broadsides appeared on Twitter, however, Aliyev’s attacks have been picked up by news outlets like Reuters, RIA Novosti, GlobalPost, and, yes, FP.

The lesson in all this for world leaders? If you’re going to pick a fight with somebody and want people to notice, you’d better do it 140 characters at a time.

Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland. Twitter: @UriLF

Tag: Rwanda

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