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Old 20.10.2007, 10:28   #1
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Thumbs up The Battle for Azerbaijan

Vladimir Putin’s statement at this week’s Caspian Sea summit that no country in the region “should offer its territory to third powers for use of force or military aggression” has been widely and correctly seen as aimed to deter U.S. military intervention in Iran.

But this warning was directed not only at the U.S., but at Azerbaijan, the smallest of the Caspian countries and America’s chief ally in the region – and at any plans to establish a permanent U.S. base in Azerbaijan.
Oil-rich Azerbaijan sits on the Caspian Sea’s western shore, wedged uncomfortably between Russia to the north and Iran to the south, and close to the two other Caspian states, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. That makes it prime real estate for a U.S. military base, and the U.S. has made no secret of such desires. An Azerbaijani base could serve as a staging area if Washington decides to strike Iran’s nuclear assets, including the Bushehr atomic reactor, which Russia sold to Iran and which is due to come online late this year despite a billing dispute between the two countries.

The Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, has deftly balanced Russian and U.S. interests in his foreign policy, but Iran continues to present a thorny problem for Azerbaijan. Iranian naval vessels and military aircraft have incurred into Azerbaijani territory on a number of occasions, and a sensational trial continues this month in Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, where sixteen men have been charged with plotting to overthrow the secular Azerbaijani government and impose an Islamic regime with the assistance of a shadowy unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Azerbaijan’s geographic location, Shi’ite Muslim population, and close ties to the US make it vulnerable to internal destabilization sponsored by its southern neighbor, and the past several years have seen the breakup of alleged sleeper cells whose purpose is to disrupt the government when the time is ripe and whom Azerbaijani authorities say are supported by Iran. Even a minimal American military presence in Azerbaijan would therefore be a political powder keg and lead to much more vigorous efforts by Tehran to undermine Azerbaijan’s security.

President Putin’s message about non-interference on Tuesday, along with his pledge to bring the Bushehr reactor online, thus had implications for both Washington and Baku. Iran is a huge market for Russian infrastructure investment and arms. In 2005, Russia sold Iran a $700 million surface-to-air missile system, which could be used to protect the Bushehr reactor in the same way that dozens of anti-aircraft batteries already surround Iran’s Arak heavy water plant. Arak is particularly troubling, giving Iran a potential source of weapons-grade plutonium to complement the uranium enrichment potential at the Natanz plant.

So far, Azerbaijan is resisting American pressure to establish a base on its territory, wary of angering Iran and souring relations with Russia after a spat earlier this year over energy resources. Russia is by far the strongest naval power in the Caspian, the world’s largest inland sea, and it conducted war games in the Caspian as recently as 2002, shortly after the failure of a previous Caspian Summit. Smaller states, such as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, cannot hope to match Russia’s or even Iran’s naval presence.
Russian efforts at the summit—thwarted by Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan—to obtain veto power over any new undersea Caspian pipeline are part of a larger agenda of establishing a virtual energy cartel with Iran for nearly all of Eurasia’s gas and oil. A Russian-Iranian pipeline monopoly would have disturbing implications for Europe, and particularly energy consuming nations with tempestuous ties to Moscow. Countries such as Ukraine and Georgia remember all too well their own difficulties last winter when gas supplies were cut off from Russia, leading to heating crises in both countries.

At his White House news conference on Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush warned that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to a third world war, and expressed hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin would soon brief him on his trip to Tehran, where Putin met with the four other leaders of the Caspian Sea countries the day before. That should prove to be an interesting conversation, since Putin made it clear while in Tehran that the United States should severely limit its role Caspian affairs.

For now, the Caspian Summit has both failed to settle the legal issues between the littoral states but succeeded in serving as a stage for larger, global issues. And nowhere are these issues more pronounced than in the Caspian region, where America competes with Russia over influence in Eurasia. A vast region of mostly Muslim former Soviet states - nearly all authoritarian and struggling with occasional wars and revolutions, economic stagnation, and internal unrest - Eurasia straddles the west and east, Christendom and Islam, Europe and Asia. Both Putin and Bush are well aware that it is here where Russian and U.S. interests clash most conspicuously, and Putin, while not completely comfortable with the clerical regime in Tehran, has very publicly taken sides.

Karl Rahder has taught US foreign policy and international history at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Azerbaijan. In 2004, he was a Visiting Faculty Fellow in Azerbaijan with the Civic Education Project, an academic program funded by the Soros Foundations and the U.S. Department of State. He is currently based in Chicago.

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/p...zerbaijan.html
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Old 05.11.2007, 11:05   #2
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"Стремление Москвы не допустить расширения экспорта центральноазиатских углеводородов в Европу очевидно и понятно",- отметил эксперт. По его словам, Россия проявляет естественное желание и в дальнейшем оставаться самым значимым поставщиком газа и нефти в Европу, и это ее намерение более чем приветствуется в Китае, потребности рынка которого в обозримом будущем могут превзойти совокупные нужды стран Европейского Союза. "Поэтому Москва и Пекин всячески стараются "проложить русло" течения центральноазиатских нефтегазовых потоков на Юго-Восток. В свою очередь, более активную роль в регионе пытается играть и Иран, который не скрывает свои намерения войти в ШОС и подключиться к транспортировке указанных углеводородов", - отметил Чингиз Велиев.

"Учитывая тот факт, что Азербайджан через несколько лет не будет в состоянии в одиночку заполнять нефтепровод Баку-Тбилиси-Джейхан и газопровод Баку-Тбилиси-Эрзрум, эти артерии без центральноазиатских ресурсов могут потерять свое стратегическое значение. А за этим может последовать, мягко говоря, снижение степени понимания в США и Европе интересов азербайджанского правительства", - развил мысль Велиев, продолжив, что, скорее всего Евросоюз при поддержке США уже сейчас попытается предотвратить нежелательные для себя энергопроекты, ориентированные из Центральной Азии не в сторону Запада, а на Юго-Восток. В этой связи нельзя исключить, что Астана, Ашхабад и, возможно, Ташкент вскоре получат предложения, от которых нельзя будет отказаться, - резюмировал эксперт.
http://regnum.ru/news/fd-abroad/azeri/909693.html

Нефтепровод Баку - Тбилиси - Джейхан себя не окупит


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"Думаю, нефтепровод Баку -Тбилиси-Джейхан вряд ли себя окупит. Я прекрасно отношусь к нашим азербайджанским коллегам и рад, что они там занимаются многими делами, но той нефти, о которой они так много говорили еще двенадцать лет назад, там нет. Поэтому говорить о серьезной конкуренции с Россией не приходится", - заявил на пресс-конференции, которая прошла в Москве 2 ноября 2007 года, президент Союза нефтегазопромышленников России Геннадий Шмаль
http://regnum.ru/news/fd-abroad/azeri/909326.html
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