Caucasus, Central Asia and the Silk Road Strategy Forum

Forum for the Caucasus and Central or Eurasian Topics - Including NATO Alliances
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The Betrayed - The Armenian Genocide Documentary

The Betrayed: (Armenian Genocide documentary)
42:56 - 2 years ago
Full BBC documentary on the Armenian Genocide

"In a special Correspondent to coincide with Holocaust memorial week, Fergal Keane investigates how a terrible slaughter, three quarters of a century ago, has returned to haunt the relationship between Turkey and its western allies. For decades the Armenian people have campaigned to have the killings of hundreds of thousands of their forefathers in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 recognised as genocide. But there has been an equally determined campaign by Turkey to deny genocide with threats of reprisals against any country which uses the word to describe the slaughter. Now as the United States steps up its efforts to win Ankara's support in any conflict with Iraq Correspondent reveals new Turkish pressures. Threats to withdraw military bases have forced the American Congress to abandon legislation which would have used the all important term, "genocide". The programme also discloses how President George W Bush and his predecessor Bill Clinton both broke promises to the Armenian community that they would recognise genocide. Talking to Armenian survivors, Turkish officials and key political figures in the United States Correspondent investigates a story of terrible slaughter, political intrigue and a people betrayed."

MP3 Audio File of this documentary at link:

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Impending Explosion: U.S. Intensifies Threats To Russia And Iran

Impending Explosion: U.S. Intensifies Threats To Russia And Iran
Rick Rozoff
February 18, 2010
Washington and its NATO allies launched two of the three major wars in the world over the past eleven years in March – against Yugoslavia in 1999 and against Iraq in 2003. The war drums are being pounded anew and the world may be headed for a catastrophe far worse than those in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States, separately and through the military bloc it controls, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is accelerating military deployments and provocations throughout Eurasia and the Middle East.

Embroiled with fellow NATO members in the largest-scale military offensive of the joint war in Afghanistan launched eight years ago last October and well on the way to both extending and replicating the Afghan aggression in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula [1], Washington and its allies are also taunting and threatening Russia as well as surrounding Iran with military forces and hardware preparatory to a potential attack on that nation.

The rapid pace of the escalation – almost daily reports of missile shield expansion in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf and Turkey; heightened and progressively more bellicose words and actions directed against Iran – is occurring at a breakneck and almost dizzying speed, drawing in larger and larger tracts of Europe and Asia.

On January 12 new U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick, speaking “at his first public event in the country,” announced that Washington is entering into negotiations with the Bulgarian government to station interceptor missile facilities, most likely at one of the three new military bases the Pentagon has acquired there in the past four years. “The US military already has bases in Romania and Bulgaria that were created some years ago for delivering troops and cargo to Iraq and Afghanistan….” [2]

“The United States is planning to expand its European missile shield to other parts of Europe” and “will consult closely with Bulgaria and other NATO allies on the specific options to deploy elements of the defense system in those regions,” according to the American envoy. [3]

During the same speech Warlick also “called on Bulgaria to find other alternatives to stop its dependence on Russian gas,” [4] a reference to sabotaging the Russian South Stream project to transport natural gas from the eastern end of the Black Sea to Bulgaria and from there to Austria and Italy.

An analyst at a pro-NATO think tank in Bulgaria said of the proposed missile shield components that “They can be deployed virtually anywhere. Naturally they will need special infrastructure that provides logistical processes, and technically everything should be enforced by NATO standards.” [5]

The news of including Bulgaria in U.S. and NATO missile shield plans came eight days after a comparable announcement was made by Romanian President Traian Basescu that his country, where the U.S. has four new military bases, will host land-based U.S. interceptor missiles. The news from Romania in turn came only two weeks after Poland disclosed that a U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missile battery will be stationed 35 miles from Russian territory as early as March. [6]

The head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, responded to the latest news by saying it is “not in line with the ‘reset’ of US-Russia relations,” [7] an almost unintentionally comic understatement, and other Russian officials have pointed out that the Bulgarian report, as with those relating to Poland and Romania, came to their attention by reading of it in the press. Moscow’s American friend doesn’t feel constrained to notify Russia of its intention to base missile shield installations near the latter’s borders or across the Black Sea from it.

Former Joint Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces retired general Leonid Ivashov was less restrained in his reaction. He recently told a major Russian radio station that U.S. missile strategy “remains unchanged” vis-a-vis that of the former George W. Bush administration and missiles in Romania are an integral component of Washington’s plan to “neutralize Russia as a geopolitical competitor” [8] in the Black Sea and in general. In fact Washington’s plans are to destroy the strategic balance in the European continent two and a half months after the expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Recent announcements concerning U.S. missile deployments near Russia have been interpreted by some observers as intentionally designed to bury START negotiations and any hope for a treaty for the limitation and reduction of strategic offensive arms.

A Russian military analyst, Alexander Pikayev, said of the above dynamic that “US/Russia relations were improving but these proposals really don’t help the situation. This situation is a time bomb. If these plans go ahead it could cause big problems in five to ten years time.” [9]

The White House and Pentagon explain the drive to deploy a solid wall of interceptor missile bases along Russia’s western borders as an alleged defense against Iranian, North Korean and even Syrian missile threats, the argument used by the last American administration in furtherance of plans to place ground-based midcourse missiles in Poland and an X-band missile radar site in the Czech Republic.

The rationale was false then and remains so now. How short-to-medium-range missiles in Poland can in any manner be a response to Iran is unexplained – because it is unexplainable.

Ivashov refuted this transparent lie by stating “Iran will never be first to deliver a military strike.” [10]

On January 12 the Polish parliament took the next step and approved the deployment of 100 U.S. troops, the first foreign forces to be based on its soil since the end of the Warsaw Pact almost twenty years ago, to staff the missile battery near Russia’s border.

Regarding the addition of Bulgaria to the expanding range of American missile shield sites – not the last as will be seen below – Konstantin Sivkov, First Vice President of the Russian Academy for Geopolitical Problems, said that the move “directly threatens Russia.” A news account of his comments added “that after Bulgaria, the next country to make a similar announcement may be Georgia, which has already expressed similar desires.” [11]

He also anticipated the statement of the former top Russian military commander cited above in asserting “the argument that the US missile defense in Europe will be directed against missiles from Iran and North Korea is ridiculous as neither of the two states has the capacity to carry out such strikes.”

In his owns words, Sivkov warned: “The US missile defense in Europe is being created in order to level down Russian operational and tactical missile weapons. The USA has started creating a military infrastructure for exerting military pressure on Russia.” [12]

Another geopolitical analyst, Maxim Minaev of the Russian Center for Political Affairs, said of the new and continent-wide European missile shield system planned by the U.S. and NATO that “In its scope it envisages a much stronger structure than the one that was supposed to be in located in the Czech Republic and Poland,” [13] one which logically will include Georgia and Azerbaijan on Russia’s southern border.

Poland became a full NATO member in 1999 and Bulgaria and Romania five years later. On the day U.S. ambassador Warlick first revealed plans to extend interceptor missile plans to Bulgaria, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov hastened to add “My opinion is that we have to show solidarity. When you are a member of NATO, you have to work towards the collective security.” [14]

To indicate the extent to which U.S. missile shield provocations in Eastern Europe are linked with NATO’s drive east into former Soviet space, fraught as that strategy is with heating up so-called frozen conflicts and the very real threat of hot wars, this year’s developments in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria immediately gave rise to dangerous military prospects east of the Black Sea.

The latest news from Romania was coupled with the announcement that “the Czech Republic is in discussions with the Obama administration to host a command center for the United States’ altered missile-defense plan,” [15] and on February 18 the Romanian government began bilateral discussions with neighboring Moldova “on U.S. missile defense plans in Europe….” [16]

The former Soviet republic of Moldova has been coveted by Romania since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the current, Western-supported post-”Twitter Revolution” government is more than willing to oblige its patrons in Bucharest and Washington.

Recently Vladimir Voronin, president of Moldova until last September 11th, spoke of the Romanian president’s disclosure that he would allow the stationing of U.S. missiles in his country and, drawing a parallel with Romania’s World War II fascist dictator, said “The steps taken by Basescu are similar to the agreements to form an anti-Soviet coalition reached by Antonescu and Hitler.”

Voronin added, “Moldovan society is against basing U.S. anti-missile defense systems in Romania. Strained Moldovan-Romanian relations will become worse. We do not accuse Romania for this decision as we are aware of its unionist policy. [Absorbing Moldova into Romania.] Romania cannot accept that Moldova exists as an independent state.” [17]

“Though the Americans said the rockets are designed to prevent dangers from Iran, the essence is different. These events remind one of Europe’s return to the Cold War of the last century.” [18]

On February 11 Moldovan political analyst Bogdan Tsirdia warned that the U.S. “is very consistently moving NATO infrastructure in Russia’s direction,” specifically mentioning American bases in Romania and Kyrgyzstan, and added “the US wants to create another base in Georgia.”

He added in relation to the Black Sea in particular that “in the near future the US will have a conventional arms advantage over Moscow in the region….[T]he United States is turning the Black Sea into an American lake to control transit in the region.” [19]

On February 15 Transdniester, formerly part of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic but independent since 1990 and a war with Moldova two years later – and which fears that Romanian incorporation of Moldova would be a prelude to armed attacks to subjugate it – offered to host a Russian missile defense system to counter the American one in Romania.

Transdniester’s president, Igor Smirnov, said “we could deploy what Russia needs” as the stationing of U.S. interceptor missiles “will not be a stabilizing factor.” [20]

His country is bordered by Ukraine to the east and has been blockaded by that nation after the U.S.-backed “orange revolution” in Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005. The recent presidential election has rid the nation and its people of the “orange” duo of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko, and incoming head of state Viktor Yanukovich pledged that “There is no question of Ukraine joining NATO,” [21], thereby renouncing one of the two major objectives of his pro-Washington opponents: Pulling Ukraine into the military bloc against the will of the overwhelming majority of its population and ousting the Russian Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol in Crimea.

The outgoing Yushchenko regime recently assigned Ukrainian troops to the global NATO Response Force and hosted NATO Military Committee Chairman Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola who presented a draft cooperation plan for 2010-2011.

A member of the new president’s Party of Regions, Vasil Hara, deputy chairman of the party’s parliamentary group, recently stated “that by offering to deploy U.S. anti-missile systems on its territory, Romania is turning Ukraine into a risk zone.”

He also affirmed that incoming President Yanukovich “will not leave Transdnestr without support.” [22]

NATO expansion not only allows nations increasingly closer to Russia and Iran to be used for global interceptor missile facilities. The eastward drive of the bloc is expressly intended to secure such bases and related sites for that purpose.

Recent developments, however, signal a new advance in U.S. and NATO strategy to neutralize potential adversaries’ ability to respond to military aggression from the West. The extension of missile shield deployments and technology to the Black Sea and from there further east and south marks the confluence of hostile intentions toward Russia and Iran simultaneously.

In the third public warning on NATO expansion since last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said “The West’s ultimate goal is not Iran, but India and China” and “named the recent concentration of NATO forces around India and unrest in Pakistan as an argument.” He added that NATO now “almost completely surrounded Russia” and advocated that “Russia should respond to the deployment of NATO forces along its borders.” [23]

Earlier this month former president Hashemi Rafsanjani issued a similar warning, saying “the deployment of NATO forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan will constitute a serious threat to Iran….” [24]

In discussing Western pressure not to provide Iran with S-300 surface-to-air missiles for defense against prospective U.S. and Israeli attacks, Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Vladimir Nazarov recently said, “This deal is not restricted by any international sanctions, because these are merely defensive weapons,” and recalled earlier Russian concerns about the U.S. and its NATO allies arming Georgia on the eve of the August 2008 war with Russia.

But, Nazarov rued, “Our calls were ignored. It should be recalled that the Georgian aggression resulted in deaths among Russian servicemen and Russian civilians.” [25]

Russian concerns have not abated in the face of recent news.

The website of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe divulged that American airmen from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany have arrived at the modernized, massively upgraded Krtsanisi National Training Center in Georgia, “a forward operating base of sorts,” to join American Marines there training the Georgian armed forces on a “mission that involves providing a top-notch service to fellow warfighters.” [26] The Marines have been in the nation and at the Krtsanisi base since last August, and in October conducted the latest Immediate Response war games. Immediate Response 2008, which also included U.S. Marines, ended the day before Georgia invaded South Ossetia and triggered a five-day war with Russia.

U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke will arrive in Georgia on February 22 on a visit “devoted to the Georgian military contingent’s participation in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.” (Holbrooke was in the Persian Gulf on February 15 and while speaking in Qatar said of Afghanistan “We cannot make the disastrous mistake of 1989. The international community must stay in Afghanistan to help it,” [27] meaning 1992 presumably, when the U.S.’s Mujahideen clients took over the nation, and “The U.S. has led and won similar wars in Kosovo and Bosnia….” [28])

Georgia is to send another 700 troops trained by U.S. Marines to Afghanistan to serve under American command shortly. Leading Georgian officials have unapologetically acknowledged that the training and combat experience provided them by the U.S. can be used for subjugating South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Any such attempt would guarantee another and far larger war with Russia which has expanded its military presence in both nations since the 2008 war. [29]

Georgia can also be used by the U.S. for military strikes against Iran by providing surveillance radar, air bases and its Black Sea waters for cruise missile launches.

The Russian Itar-Tass news agency revealed on February 12 that in addition to supplying Georgia with aerial drones, Israel is delivering a large consignment of arms and ammunition to the nation.

Citing sources in the Russian secret services, the report revealed: “Under an effective contract Israel’s Ropadia company, registered in Cyprus, plans to supply through Bulgaria’s Arsenal firm 50,000 AKS-74 automatic rifles, about 1,000 grenade launchers RPG-7 and nearly 20,000 40-millimeter shells for them, as well as about 15,000 5.56-millimeter assault rifles….The hardware and ammunition was ready for shipment back several days ago.” [30]

In line with recent announcements that Washington is building up both land-based and sea-based interceptor missile capabilities in the Persian Gulf, the same combination as will be deployed along Russia’s western frontier from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and from the latter into the South Caucasus, Georgia and neighboring Azerbaijan are key components in the strategy to prevent Iranian retaliation in the event of U.S. and Israeli attacks. American and NATO bases in Bulgaria and Romania were used for the 2003 war against Iraq and are for the war in Afghanistan to the current day.

Azerbaijan, which has consolidated military ties with the U.S., NATO and Israel, is on Iran’s northwest border. [31]

Recently an official with the Azerbaijan president’s Academy of Public Administration spoke at a conference titled Azerbaijan’s Integration into Europe: Problems and Prospects, organized by the NATO International School in Azerbaijan. He advocated NATO intervening in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict with Armenia as the military bloc had “in the early 1990s in the Balkans, Bosnia,” when NATO deployed 400 warplanes in a bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb positions.

According to the official, Elman Nasirov, “the main aim of Azerbaijan in integrating into NATO and European structures is to provide security and restore its territorial integrity,” [32] meaning the military conquest of Karabakh.

Azerbaijan can be a major base for operations against Iran, where ethnic Azeris comprise as much as a quarter of the population. The Bosnia model has been alluded to above on two occasions.

On February 16 NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen hosted Major General Yaylym Berdiyev, the defense minister of Turkmenistan, Iran’s northeastern neighbor, at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. As the French Voltaire Network wrote five days before, “NATO has encircled Iran almost entirely: it has a foothold in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It just needs one in Turkmenistan for the siege to be complete.” [33]

To Iran’s west, Turkey’s Zaman newspaper wrote on February 17 that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar and while identifying Iran as a “long-term threat” because of its “nuclear weapons,” said that the U.S. interceptor missile system being steadily expanded from Eastern Europe to locations east and south “would protect into the Caucasus and down to Turkey, would provide some additional guarantee against threatening behavior.” (NATO Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero was in Qatar on February 8 and 9 to consolidate military partnerships with members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the Mediterranean Dialogue: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. [34])

The same Turkish source quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “The dialogue on what Turkey could do within NATO to counter the proliferation of ballistic missiles via a missile defense system continues. We have discussed the possibility of erecting two radar systems in Turkey.” [35]

The Pentagon is simultaneously deploying land-based and ship-based interceptor missiles throughout the Persian Gulf to render Iran incapable of retaliation against massive missile attacks and bombing runs from the U.S. and its allies. [36]

After a five-day tour to Afghanistan and Pakistan to oversee the escalation of the wars in both nations, U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones – former Marine Commandant and NATO Supreme Allied Commander – said that Washington was pursuing tighter sanctions against Iran and revealed what the true purpose of such economic warfare is: “We are about to add to that regime’s difficulties by engineering, participating in very tough sanctions,” which “could trigger regime change.” [37]

On February 14 Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen arrived in Israel to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and military Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, and stated that the option of war against Iran “is still on the table.” [38]

During his trip it was reported that “Mullen’s visit follows a visit last month by U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones and a leaked secret visit two weeks ago by Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta.” [39]

In a masterful analysis of the current crisis in Yemen, American professor Robert Prince examined that nation’s role in American plans for armed hostilities against Iran.

In addition to “countering Chinese access to Middle East and African oil and gas moves, in the long run Yemen offers the United States strategic access to the Horn of Africa – Somalia, Sudan, Kenya – all of which are in varying degrees of turmoil and opens the door for expanding the roles of either AFRICOM or NATO – not only in the Middle East, but in Africa.

“There is another possible strategic consequence to US bases in Yemen, hypothetical but not out of the range of possibility: a US air base in Yemen could be used as a launching pad for an air attack on Iran, not only for US planes but for the Israelis as well.” [40]

On February 15 the earlier-cited Vladimir Nazarov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, warned that “Any military action against Iran will explode the situation, will have extremely negative consequences for the entire world, including for Russia, which is a neighbor of Iran.” [41]

On the 17th Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Nikolai Makarov was quoted by his nation’s Interfax news agency as stating, “The U.S. is currently conducting two military operations – in Afghanistan and in Iraq. A third one would be a disaster for them. So, as they’re tackling their tasks in Iraq and Afghanistan, they could deliver a strike against Iran.” [42]

Washington and its NATO allies launched two of the three major wars in the world over the past eleven years in March – against Yugoslavia in 1999 and against Iraq in 2003. The war drums are being pounded anew and the world may be headed for a catastrophe far worse than those in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

1) U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010

2) Russia Today, February 15, 2010
3) RTT News, February 12, 2010
4) Ibid
5) Focus News Agency, February 16, 2010
6) With Nuclear, Conventional Arms Pacts Stalled, U.S. Moves Missiles And
Troops To Russian Border
Stop NATO, January 22, 2010

7) Voice of Russia, February 16, 2010
cool Russia Today, February 15, 2010
9) Sky News, February 17, 2010
10) Ibid
11) Sofia News Agency, February 13, 2010
12) Ibid
13) Ibid
14) Sofia Echo, February 12, 2010
15) Prague Post, February 10, 2010
16) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 18, 2010
17) Info-Prim Neo (Moldova), February 13, 2010
18) Ibid
19) The Messenger (Georgia), February 15, 2010
20) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 15, 2010
21) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 12, 2010
22) Nezavisimaya Gazeta/, February 15, 2010
23) Trend News Agency, February 16, 2010
24) Jomhouri-e Eslami, February 10, 2010
25) Interfax, February 14, 2010
26) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, February 16, 2010
27) Reuters, February 15, 2010
28) Tanjug News Agency, February 17, 2010
29) U.S. Marines In The Caucasus As West Widens Afghan War
Stop NATO, September 3, 2009

30) Itar-Tass, February 12, 2010
31) U.S. Marines In The Caucasus As West Widens Afghan War
Stop NATO, September 3, 2009

Azerbaijan And The Caspian: NATO’s War For The World’s Heartland
Stop NATO, June 10, 2009

32) News.AZ, February 16, 2010
33) Voltaire Network, February 11, 2010

34) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
Stop NATO, February 10, 2010

35) Today’s Zaman, February 17, 2010
36) U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, February 3, 2010

37) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 15, 2010
38) Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 14, 2010
39) Ibid
40) Robert Prince, Houthi Rebellion in Yemen has the Saudis Nervous
February 11, 2010

41), February 15, 2010
42) Interfax-Military, February 17, 2010

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Pipeline-Istan: Everything You Need to Know About Oil, Gas, Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Obama - by Pepe Escobar

Pipeline-Istan: Everything You Need to Know About Oil, Gas, Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Obama
by Pepe Escobar
Wed, 13 May 2009 16:26 UTC


As Barack Obama heads into his second hundred days in office, let's head for the big picture ourselves, the ultimate global plot line, the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order. In its first hundred days, the Obama presidency introduced us to a brand new acronym, OCO for Overseas Contingency Operations, formerly known as GWOT (as in Global War on Terror). Use either name, or anything else you want, and what you're really talking about is what's happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It's there that the Liquid War for the control of Eurasia takes place.

Yep, it all comes down to black gold and "blue gold" (natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond compare, and so it's time to trek back to that ever-flowing wonderland -- Pipelineistan. It's time to dust off the acronyms, especially the SCO or Shanghai Cooperative Organization, the Asian response to NATO, and learn a few new ones like IPI and TAPI. Above all, it's time to check out the most recent moves on the giant chessboard of Eurasia, where Washington wants to be a crucial, if not dominant, player.

We've already seen Pipelineistan wars in Kosovo and Georgia, and we've followed Washington's favorite pipeline, the BTC, which was supposed to tilt the flow of energy westward, sending oil coursing past both Iran and Russia. Things didn't quite turn out that way, but we've got to move on, the New Great Game never stops. Now, it's time to grasp just what the Asian Energy Security Grid is all about, visit a surreal natural gas republic, and understand why that Grid is so deeply implicated in the Af-Pak war.

Every time I've visited Iran, energy analysts stress the total "interdependence of Asia and Persian Gulf geo-ecopolitics." What they mean is the ultimate importance to various great and regional powers of Asian integration via a sprawling mass of energy pipelines that will someday, somehow, link the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, South Asia, Russia, and China. The major Iranian card in the Asian integration game is the gigantic South Pars natural gas field (which Iran shares with Qatar). It is estimated to hold at least 9% of the world's proven natural gas reserves.

As much as Washington may live in perpetual denial, Russia and Iran together control roughly 20% of the world's oil reserves and nearly 50% of its gas reserves. Think about that for a moment. It's little wonder that, for the leadership of both countries as well as China's, the idea of Asian integration, of the Grid, is sacrosanct.

If it ever gets built, a major node on that Grid will surely be the prospective $7.6 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline." After years of wrangling, a nearly miraculous agreement for its construction was initialed in 2008. At least in this rare case, both Pakistan and India stood shoulder to shoulder in rejecting relentless pressure from the Bush administration to scotch the deal.

It couldn't be otherwise. Pakistan, after all, is an energy-poor, desperate customer of the Grid. One year ago, in a speech at Beijing's Tsinghua University, then-President Pervez Musharraf did everything but drop to his knees and beg China to dump money into pipelines linking the Persian Gulf and Pakistan with China's Far West. If this were to happen, it might help transform Pakistan from a near-failed state into a mighty "energy corridor" to the Middle East. If you think of a pipeline as an umbilical cord, it goes without saying that IPI, far more than any form of U.S. aid (or outright interference), would go the extra mile in stabilizing the Pak half of Obama's Af-Pak theater of operations, and even possibly relieve it of its India obsession.

If Pakistan's fate is in question, Iran's is another matter. Though currently only holding "observer" status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), sooner or later it will inevitably become a full member and so enjoy NATO-style, an-attack-on-one-of-us-is-an-attack-on-all-of-us protection. Imagine, then, the cataclysmic consequences of an Israeli preemptive strike (backed by Washington or not) on Iran's nuclear facilities. The SCO will tackle this knotty issue at its next summit in June, in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Iran's relations with both Russia and China are swell -- and will remain so no matter who is elected the new Iranian president next month. China desperately needs Iranian oil and gas, has already clinched a $100 billion gas "deal of the century" with the Iranians, and has loads of weapons and cheap consumer goods to sell. No less close to Iran, Russia wants to sell them even more weapons, as well as nuclear energy technology.

And then, moving ever eastward on the great Grid, there's Turkmenistan, lodged deep in Central Asia, which, unlike Iran, you may never have heard a thing about. Let's correct that now.

Gurbanguly Is the Man

Alas, the sun-king of Turkmenistan, the wily, wacky Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Nyazov, "the father of all Turkmen" (descendants of a formidable race of nomadic horseback warriors who used to attack Silk Road caravans) is now dead. But far from forgotten.

The Chinese were huge fans of the Turkmenbashi. And the joy was mutual. One key reason the Central Asians love to do business with China is that the Middle Kingdom, unlike both Russia and the United States, carries little modern imperial baggage. And of course, China will never carp about human rights or foment a color-coded revolution of any sort.

The Chinese are already moving to successfully lobby the new Turkmen president, the spectacularly named Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, to speed up the construction of the Mother of All Pipelines. This Turkmen-Kazakh-China Pipelineistan corridor from eastern Turkmenistan to China's Guangdong province will be the longest and most expensive pipeline in the world, 7,000 kilometers of steel pipe at a staggering cost of $26 billion. When China signed the agreement to build it in 2007, they made sure to add a clever little geopolitical kicker. The agreement explicitly states that "Chinese interests" will not be "threatened from [Turkmenistan's] territory by third parties." In translation: no Pentagon bases allowed in that country.

China's deft energy diplomacy game plan in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia is a pure winner. In the case of Turkmenistan, lucrative deals are offered and partnerships with Russia are encouraged to boost Turkmen gas production. There are to be no Russian-Chinese antagonisms, as befits the main partners in the SCO, because the Asian Energy Security Grid story is really and truly about them.

By the way, elsewhere on the Grid, those two countries recently agreed to extend the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline to China by the end of 2010. After all, energy-ravenous China badly needs not just Turkmen gas, but Russia's liquefied natural gas (LNG).

With energy prices low and the global economy melting down, times are sure to be tough for the Kremlin through at least 2010, but this won't derail its push to forge a Central Asian energy club within the SCO. Think of all this as essentially an energy entente cordiale with China. Russian Deputy Industry and Energy Minister Ivan Materov has been among those insistently swearing that this will not someday lead to a "gas OPEC" within the SCO. It remains to be seen how the Obama national security team decides to counteract the successful Russian strategy of undermining by all possible means a U.S.-promoted East-West Caspian Sea energy corridor, while solidifying a Russian-controlled Pipelineistan stretching from Kazakhstan to Greece that will monopolize the flow of energy to Western Europe.

The Real Afghan War

In the ever-shifting New Great Game in Eurasia, a key question - why Afghanistan matters - is simply not part of the discussion in the United States. (Hint: It has nothing to do with the liberation of Afghan women.) In part, this is because the idea that energy and Afghanistan might have anything in common is verboten.

And yet, rest assured, nothing of significance takes place in Eurasia without an energy angle. In the case of Afghanistan, keep in mind that Central and South Asia have been considered by American strategists crucial places to plant the flag; and once the Soviet Union collapsed, control of the energy-rich former Soviet republics in the region was quickly seen as essential to future U.S. global power. It would be there, as they imagined it, that the U.S. Empire of Bases would intersect crucially with Pipelineistan in a way that would leave both Russia and China on the defensive.

Think of Afghanistan, then, as an overlooked subplot in the ongoing Liquid War. After all, an overarching goal of U.S. foreign policy since President Richard Nixon's era in the early 1970s has been to split Russia and China. The leadership of the SCO has been focused on this since the U.S. Congress passed the Silk Road Strategy Act five days before beginning the bombing of Serbia in March 1999. That act clearly identified American geo-strategic interests from the Black Sea to western China with building a mosaic of American protectorates in Central Asia and militarizing the Eurasian energy corridor.

Afghanistan, as it happens, sits conveniently at the crossroads of any new Silk Road linking the Caucasus to western China, and four nuclear powers (China, Russia, Pakistan, and India) lurk in the vicinity. "Losing" Afghanistan and its key network of U.S. military bases would, from the Pentagon's point of view, be a disaster, and though it may be a secondary matter in the New Great Game of the moment, it's worth remembering that the country itself is a lot more than the towering mountains of the Hindu Kush and immense deserts: it's believed to be rich in unexplored deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chrome, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, and iron ore, as well as precious and semiprecious stones.

And there's something highly toxic to be added to this already lethal mix: don't forget the narco-dollar angle - the fact that the global heroin cartels that feast on Afghanistan only work with U.S. dollars, not euros. For the SCO, the top security threat in Afghanistan isn't the Taliban, but the drug business. Russia's anti-drug czar Viktor Ivanov routinely blasts the disaster that passes for a U.S./NATO anti-drug war there, stressing that Afghan heroin now kills 30,000 Russians annually, twice as many as were killed during the decade-long U.S.-supported anti-Soviet Afghan jihad of the 1980s.

And then, of course, there are those competing pipelines that, if ever built, either would or wouldn't exclude Iran and Russia from the action to their south. In April 2008, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India actually signed an agreement to build a long-dreamt-about $7.6 billion (and counting) pipeline, whose acronym TAPI combines the first letters of their names and would also someday deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India without the involvement of either Iran or Russia. It would cut right through the heart of Western Afghanistan, in Herat, and head south across lightly populated Nimruz and Helmand provinces, where the Taliban, various Pashtun guerrillas and assorted highway robbers now merrily run rings around U.S. and NATO forces and where - surprise! - the U.S. is now building in Dasht-e-Margo ("the Desert of Death") a new mega-base to host President Obama's surge troops.

TAPI's rival is the already mentioned IPI, also theoretically underway and widely derided by Heritage Foundation types in the U.S., who regularly launch blasts of angry prose at the nefarious idea of India and Pakistan importing gas from "evil" Iran. Theoretically, TAPI's construction will start in 2010 and the gas would begin flowing by 2015. (Don't hold your breath.) Embattled Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who can hardly secure a few square blocks of central Kabul, even with the help of international forces, nonetheless offered assurances last year that he would not only rid his country of millions of land mines along TAPI's route, but somehow get rid of the Taliban in the bargain.

Should there be investors (nursed by Afghan opium dreams) delirious enough to sink their money into such a pipeline - and that's a monumental if - Afghanistan would collect only $160 million a year in transit fees, a mere bagatelle even if it does represent a big chunk of the embattled Karzai's current annual revenue. Count on one thing though, if it ever happened, the Taliban and assorted warlords/highway robbers would be sure to get a cut of the action.

A Clinton-Bush-Obama Great Game

TAPI's roller-coaster history actually begins in the mid-1990s, the Clinton era, when the Taliban were dined (but not wined) by the California-based energy company Unocal and the Clinton machine. In 1995, Unocal first came up with the pipeline idea, even then a product of Washington's fatal urge to bypass both Iran and Russia. Next, Unocal talked to the Turkmenbashi, then to the Taliban, and so launched a classic New Great Game gambit that has yet to end and without which you can't understand the Afghan war Obama has inherited.

A Taliban delegation, thanks to Unocal, enjoyed Houston's hospitality in early 1997 and then Washington's in December of that year. When it came to energy negotiations, the Taliban's leadership was anything but medieval. They were tough bargainers, also cannily courting the Argentinean private oil company Bridas, which had secured the right to explore and exploit oil reserves in eastern Turkmenistan.

In August 1997, financially unstable Bridas sold 60% of its stock to Amoco, which merged the next year with British Petroleum. A key Amoco consultant happened to be that ubiquitous Eurasian player, former national security advisor Zbig Brzezinski, while another such luminary, Henry Kissinger, just happened to be a consultant for Unocal. BP-Amoco, already developing the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, now became the major player in what had already been dubbed the Trans-Afghan Pipeline or TAP. Inevitably, Unocal and BP-Amoco went to war and let the lawyers settle things in a Texas court, where, in October 1998 as the Clinton years drew to an end, BP-Amoco seemed to emerge with the upper hand.

Under newly elected president George W. Bush, however, Unocal snuck back into the game and, as early as January 2001, was cozying up to the Taliban yet again, this time supported by a star-studded governmental cast of characters, including Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage, himself a former Unocal lobbyist. The Taliban were duly invited back to Washington in March 2001 via Rahmatullah Hashimi, a top aide to "The Shadow," the movement's leader Mullah Omar.

Negotiations eventually broke down because of those pesky transit fees the Taliban demanded. Beware the Empire's fury. At a Group of Eight summit meeting in Genoa in July 2001, Western diplomats indicated that the Bush administration had decided to take the Taliban down before year's end. (Pakistani diplomats in Islamabad would later confirm this to me.) The attacks of September 11, 2001 just slightly accelerated the schedule. Nicknamed "the kebab seller" in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset and Unocal representative, who had entertained visiting Taliban members at barbecues in Houston, was soon forced down Afghan throats as the country's new leader.

Among the first fruits of Donald Rumsfeld's bombing and invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 was the signing by Karzai, Pakistani President Musharraf and Turkmenistan's Nyazov of an agreement committing themselves to build TAP, and so was formally launched a Pipelineistan extension from Central to South Asia with brand USA stamped all over it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin did nothing - until September 2006, that is, when he delivered his counterpunch with panache. That's when Russian energy behemoth Gazprom agreed to buy Nyazov's natural gas at the 40% mark-up the dictator demanded. In return, the Russians received priceless gifts (and the Bush administration a pricey kick in the face). Nyazov turned over control of Turkmenistan's entire gas surplus to the Russian company through 2009, indicated a preference for letting Russia explore the country's new gas fields, and stated that Turkmenistan was bowing out of any U.S.-backed Trans-Caspian pipeline project. (And while he was at it, Putin also cornered much of the gas exports of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as well.)

Thus, almost five years later, with occupied Afghanistan in increasingly deadly chaos, TAP seemed dead-on-arrival. The (invisible) star of what would later turn into Obama's "good" war was already a corpse.

But here's the beauty of Pipelineistan: like zombies, dead deals always seem to return and so the game goes on forever.

Just when Russia thought it had Turkmenistan locked in...

A Turkmen Bash

They don't call Turkmenistan a "gas republic" for nothing. I've crossed it from the Uzbek border to a Caspian Sea port named - what else - Turkmenbashi where you can purchase one kilo of fresh Beluga for $100 and a camel for $200. That's where the gigantic gas fields are, and it's obvious that most have not been fully explored. When, in October 2008, the British consultancy firm GCA confirmed that the Yolotan-Osman gas fields in southwest Turkmenistan were among the world's four largest, holding up to a staggering 14 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, Turkmenistan promptly grabbed second place in the global gas reserves sweepstakes, way ahead of Iran and only 20% below Russia. With that news, the earth shook seismically across Pipelineistan.

Just before he died in December 2006, the flamboyant Turkmenbashi boasted that his country held enough reserves to export 150 billion cubic meters of gas annually for the next 250 years. Given his notorious megalomania, nobody took him seriously. So in March 2008, our man Gurbanguly ordered a GCA audit to dispel any doubts. After all, in pure Asian Energy Security Grid mode, Turkmenistan had already signed contracts to supply Russia with about 50 billion cubic meters annually, China with 40 billion cubic meters, and Iran with 8 billion cubic meters.

And yet, none of this turns out to be quite as monumental or settled as it may look. In fact, Turkmenistan and Russia may be playing the energy equivalent of Russian roulette. After all, virtually all of Turkmenistani gas exports flow north through an old, crumbling Soviet system of pipelines, largely built in the 1960s. Add to this a Turkmeni knack for raising the stakes non-stop at a time when Gazprom has little choice but to put up with it: without Turkmen gas, it simply can't export all it needs to Europe, the source of 70% of Gazprom's profits.

Worse yet, according to a Gazprom source quoted in the Russian business daily Kommersant, the stark fact is that the company only thought it controlled all of Turkmenistan's gas exports; the newly discovered gas mega-fields turn out not to be part of the deal. As my Asia Times colleague, former ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar put the matter, Gazprom's mistake "is proving to be a misconception of Himalayan proportions."

In fact, it's as if the New Great Gamesters had just discovered another Everest. This year, Obama's national security strategists lost no time unleashing a no-holds-barred diplomatic campaign to court Turkmenistan. The goal? To accelerate possible ways for all that new Turkmeni gas to flow through the right pipes, and create quite a different energy map and future. Apart from TAPI, another key objective is to make the prospective $5.8 billion Turkey-to-Austria Nabucco pipeline become viable and thus, of course, trump the Russians. In that way, a key long-term U.S. strategic objective would be fulfilled: Austria, Italy, and Greece, as well as the Balkan and various Central European countries, would be at least partially pulled from Gazprom's orbit. (Await my next "postcard" from Pipelineistan for more on this.)


Gurbanguly is proving an even more riotous player than the Turkmenbashi. A year ago he said he was going to hedge his bets, that he was willing to export the bulk of the eight trillion cubic meters of gas reserves he now claims for his country to virtually anyone. Washington was - and remains - ecstatic. At an international conference last month in Ashgabat ("the city of love"), the Las Vegas of Central Asia, Gurbanguly told a hall packed with Americans, Europeans, and Russians that "diversification of energy flows and inclusion of new countries into the geography of export routes can help the global economy gain stability."

Inevitably, behind closed doors, the TAPI maze came up and TAPI executives once again began discussing pricing and transit fees. Of course, hard as that may be to settle, it's the easy part of the deal. After all, there's that Everest of Afghan security to climb, and someone still has to confirm that Turkmenistan's gas reserves are really as fabulous as claimed.

Imperceptible jiggles in Pipelineistan's tectonic plates can shake half the world. Take, for example, an obscure March report in the Balochistan Times: a little noticed pipeline supplying gas to parts of Sindh province in Pakistan, including Karachi, was blown up. It got next to no media attention, but all across Eurasia and in Washington, those analyzing the comparative advantages of TAPI vs. IPI had to wonder just how risky it might be for India to buy future Iranian gas via increasingly volatile Balochistan.

And then in early April came another mysterious pipeline explosion, this one in Turkmenistan, compromising exports to Russia. The Turkmenis promptly blamed the Russians (and TAPI advocates cheered), but nothing in Afghanistan itself could have left them cheering very loudly. Right now, Dick Cheney's master plan to get those blue rivers of Turkmeni gas flowing southwards via a future TAPI as part of a U.S. grand strategy for a "Greater Central Asia" lies in tatters.

Still, Zbig Brzezinski might disagree, and as he commands Obama's attention, he may try to convince the new president that the world needs a $7.6-plus billion, 1,600-km steel serpent winding through a horribly dangerous war zone. That's certainly the gist of what Brzezinski said immediately after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, stressing once again that "the construction of a pipeline from Central Asia via Afghanistan to the south... will maximally expand world society's access to the Central Asian energy market."

Washington or Beijing?

Still, give credit where it's due. For the time being, our man Gurbanguly may have snatched the leading role in the New Great Game in this part of Eurasia. He's already signed a groundbreaking gas agreement with RWE from Germany and sent the Russians scrambling.

If, one of these days, the Turkmenistani leader opts for TAPI as well, it will open Washington to an ultimate historical irony. After so much death and destruction, Washington would undoubtedly have to sit down once again with - yes - the Taliban! And we'd be back to July 2001 and those pesky pipeline transit fees.

As it stands at the moment, however, Russia still dominates Pipelineistan, ensuring Central Asian gas flows across Russia's network and not through the Trans-Caspian networks privileged by the U.S. and the European Union. This virtually guarantees Russia's crucial geopolitical status as the top gas supplier to Europe and a crucial supplier to Asia as well.

Meanwhile, in "transit corridor" Pakistan, where Predator drones soaring over Pashtun tribal villages monopolize the headlines, the shady New Great Game slouches in under-the-radar mode toward the immense, under-populated southern Pakistani province of Balochistan. The future of the epic IPI vs. TAPI battle may hinge on a single, magic word: Gwadar.

Essentially a fishing village, Gwadar is an Arabian Sea port in that province. The port was built by China. In Washington's dream scenario, Gwadar becomes the new Dubai of South Asia. This implies the success of TAPI. For its part, China badly needs Gwadar as a node for yet another long pipeline to be built to western China. And where would the gas flowing in that line come from? Iran, of course.

Whoever "wins," if Gwadar really becomes part of the Liquid War, Pakistan will finally become a key transit corridor for either Iranian gas from the monster South Pars field heading for China, or a great deal of the Caspian gas from Turkmenistan heading Europe-wards. To make the scenario even more locally mouth-watering, Pakistan would then be a pivotal place for both NATO and the SCO (in which it is already an official "observer").

Now that's as classic as the New Great Game in Eurasia can get. There's NATO vs. the SCO. With either IPI or TAPI, Turkmenistan wins. With either IPI or TAPI, Russia loses. With either IPI or TAPI, Pakistan wins. With TAPI, Iran loses. With IPI, Afghanistan loses. In the end, however, as in any game of high stakes Pipelineistan poker, it all comes down to the top two global players. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets: will the winner be Washington or Beijing?

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Who is behind Moldova's Twitter Revolution? - by José Miguel Alonso Trabanco

Who is behind Moldova's Twitter Revolution?
by José Miguel Alonso Trabanco
Global Research, April 11, 2009

"A lot of what we [National Endowment for Democracy] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." -Allen Weinstein

It seems that those who anticipated the end of color revolutions have been proven wrong. So far, color revolutions have succeeded in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. On the other hand, they have failed in Belarus, Uzbekistan and Myanmar. Their common denominator is a wave of protests and sometimes riots whose purpose is to overthrow a local government, often held during electoral times or shortly afterwards. It has not gone unnoticed that the so called color revolutions have been backed (and engineered?) by enthusiastic western supporters including NGO's, diplomats, businessmen, governmental institutions and heads of state. In those countries where such political mobilizations have prevailed, pro-Western leaders have been enthroned as a result thereof. If one pays close attention to a map, it is impossible not to wonder if it is simply a coincidence that color revolutions have erupted in countries close to Russian and Chinese borders. It has to be pointed out that no color revolution has ever occurred in any country whose government is staunchly pro-Western.

Today, it is indeed quite likely that events taking place in Moldova are none other than the evident signs of the latest color revolution. Only a few days ago, elections were held there and the official announcement of preliminary results of the electoral process showed that the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (affiliated to the Party of the European Left) had received nearly 50% of the votes. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) certified that Moldovan parliamentary elections were free and fair. Nevertheless, protests attended by tens of thousands started shortly afterwards. However, these demonstrations can hardly be described as peaceful since media reports confirm that organized violence has targeted government facilities, including the parliament building as well as a presidential office. The script bears some similarities with Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which started with large protests demanding new elections once opposition politicians were discontent with electoral results.

It is telling that protestors have been photographed waving the flags of both Romania and the European Union. They have also requested the ouster of Moldova's current government, denouncing it as a "totalitarian regime" and demanded parliamentary elections to be re-scheduled. So far, Moldovan law enforcement has been overwhelmed and is unable to control these riots even though it has resorted to tear gas and water cannons. Moldovan senior government officials have stated that they regard these episodes of civil unrest as unlawful and that they will act accordingly. Furthermore, the Romanian ambassador in Moldova has been declared persona non grata and visa requirements for Romanian nationals have been established. Also, pro-Moldovan protesters rallies have taken place in many cities throughout Romania. Although no color has been chosen to name this color revolution, these events have already been termed as the Twitter Revolution because on-site reports indicate that protest organizers have made extensive use of social-networking tools in order to fuel discontent.

To determine whether or not any event is geopolitically significant, the timing is an element which always needs to be taken into account. The post Soviet space is one of the most active arenas of great power strategic competition and there are some meaningful recent precedents such as:

· The fact that Ukraine and Georgia have not been accepted as NATO members in spite of intense diplomatic pressure by prominent NATO members.

· Unlike other post Soviet states, Moldova's government had declared that Chişinău would remain neutral and that it would thus refuse to side with great powers, which more or less resembles the position taken by fellow former Soviet Republic Turkmenistan whose foreign policy must meet criteria of strict neutrality.

· The Russo-Georgian war in which Moscow inflicted a military defeat on strongly pro-Western Georgia.

· The announcement by the Kyrgyz government that the Manas air base will be closed.

· The European Union launched its Eastern Partnership project, designed by Poland and Sweden to reach out to Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia. This was seen in Moscow as an attempt to co-opt these countries and marginalize them away from Russian influence.

· Ukraine's decision to hold anticipated elections. It might be added that pro-Western Viktor Yuschchenko's candidacy does not look particularly promising.

The above demonstrates that the geopolitical rivalry between Russia and NATO has been intensifying. In fact, Russian senior politicians are already claiming that civil unrest in Moldova is been orchestrated by western intelligence survives. They have also emphasized that the ultimate goal is to accomplish regime change in Chişinău so NATO member Romania can swallow Moldova. It is no secret that hardline nationalists in Bucharest would like to achieve Anschluss with Moldova. Yet Western governments have refrained from voicing a strong support for the anti-government crowd in Moldova. However, it is necessary to explore what Western interests could consist of in this tiny post Soviet republic.

Why Moldova?

Moldova was one of the poorest and less developed republics of the Soviet Union, as well as the most densely populated. It is a landlocked country contiguous to Romania and Ukraine. Soviet planners had decided that Moldova would specialize in food production. Nevertheless, Moldova was not entirely homogeneous. The country's industrial infrastructure was built in Transnistria, a region mostly populated by people of Slavic ethnicity (i.e. Russians and Ukrainians). This region was responsible for a large of percentage of Moldova's GDP (40%) and it also contributed with almost the entire power generation of the Moldovan SSR. Toward the end of the Cold War, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu had stated that the Kremlin had annexed Bessarabia (aka Moldova), which implied that he considered it as a part of Romania.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union changed little. The overall Moldovan economy is not specially outstanding since it exports wine, fruits and other beverages and food products. Moldova is a net importer of coal, oil and gas since if has no natural deposits of any of these resources. According to the CIA World Factbook, Moldova ranks 138th in a list of countries arranged by GDP.

Transnistria declared its independence from Moldova following the Soviet collapse because it was fearful of an increasingly nationalistic Moldova and the reemergence of pro-Romanian sentiment. This triggered a war between Chişinău and Transnistrian separatists. Russian forces were then deployed in order to end hostilities. The conflict has been frozen ever since. Nevertheless, the presence of Russian military personnel (which numbers nearly 3000) has allowed Transnistria to keep its de facto independence from Molvoda even though it still formally belongs to the latter. Indeed, Transnistria has its own authorities, military, law enforcement, currency, public services, flag, national anthem, constitution and coat of arms. Nearly half of Transnistrian exports are shipped to Russia.

Russia has supported Transnistria because it is inhabited by a considerable proportion of ethnic Russians loyal to Moscow; this must not be born in mind because people is Russia's scarcest resource. Furthermore, Transnistria is located in the easternmost region on Moldova and, more importantly, it borders Ukraine. Last but not least, Transnistria's small economy is based on heavy industry, textile production and power generation, which represents an additional atractive. As a result of Russian involvement, Chişinău has been careful not to be antagonistic toward Moscow.

Moldova's current president, Vladimir Voronin (the name can be misleading but he is, in fact, an ethnic Romanian), was elected in 2001 as the candidate of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova. Regardless of his party's name, his administration can be described a pragmatic; for instance, he decided to continue privatization plans first put forward by his predecessor. Back in 2002, he angered nationalists by designating the Russian language as a second official language. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to brand him as pro-Russian because his foreign policy has been seeking to balance Russian and Western interests without having to take sides. For example, his administration has expressed a desire to establish closer ties with the EU (which even runs a permanent mission in Chişinău) and cooperation with NATO and Russia, excluding membership in the Atlantic alliance or in the Russian-led CSTO. Furthermore, Voronin's government has stressed Moldova's need to preserve its independece instead of being absorbed by Romania. In short, he is neither pro-Russian (like Alexander Lukashenko) nor pro-Western (like Mikheil Saakashvili). Rather, his political position is closer to those of Ukraine's Kuchma, Georgia's Shevardnadze or even Turkmenistan's Niyazov and Berdymukhamedov.

Nonetheless, it is not far-fetched to assume that NATO in general and the US in particular are interested in regime change in Moldova. The main goal would be to overthrow the current Moldovan government and have it replaced by rulers more antagonistic toward Moscow. If such attempt succeeds, a new government in Moldova could be harangued into expelling Russian troops from Transnistria in an effort to rollback Russian military presence away from Eastern Europe, an effort meant to diminish Russian influence in the post Soviet space and to undermine Russia's prestige there and elsewhere. Moreover, it could be a Western reminder to Moscow that the slightest Russian distraction will be taken advantage of by NATO. A hypothetical pro-Western Moldova could even be later incorporated into NATO member Romania, moving the alliance borders eastward bypassing ordinary acceptance protocols for new members.

It remains to be seen if the Kremlin was caught by surprise and it is unclear how it will ultimately react to an eventual regime change in Chişinău, particularly if any new government attempts to take over Transnistria by force, much like Georgia did last year concerning South Ossetia. What is clear, however, is that Moscow does not want to be trapped into a conflict which could drain financial, military, diplomatic and political resources. Yet, Russian decision makers do not like what they are witnessing in Moldova; it is a script that had seen at play before. Therefore, it is reasonable to assert that Russia will resort to its intelligence assets it operates overseas in order to counter anti-Russian moves in Moldova before any deployment of troops is seriously considered. It is still too early to accurately foresee what defining developments will take place in Moldova and how they will unfold. If the current Moldovan government survives, the Twitter Revolution there could backfire. If that is indeed the case, Moldova's rulers could end up openly embracing Moscow as a result of real or alleged Western covert support for anti-government forces.

Russian accusations regarding the involvement of Western intelligence agencies has not been proved because all clandestine operations operate on the principle of plausible denial. Nonetheless, there are circumstantial facts which seem to demonstrate foreign intervention. For instance, some Western semi official institutions and NGO's openly acknowledged their activities in Moldova. For example:

· The USAID website concerning the agency's activities in Moldova mentions that some of them include "Moldova Citizen Participation Program", "Strengthening Democratic Political Activism in Moldova" and "Internet Access and Training Program". The latter is noteworthy because online social networks have been employed in order to increase anti-government activism. USAID's website specifies that "[its program] provides local communities with free access to the internet and to extensive training in all aspects of information technology". It goes on to explain that "Target groups include local government officials, journalists, students, local NGO representatives, professors and healthcare providers..."

Those examples are particularly revealing if one takes into consideration that those organizations were prominent participants in previous color revolutions. That is, both the players and the Modus Operandi remains largely unchanged. A notorious protagonist and organizer of the Twitter Revolution is journalist Natalia Morar who used to work as press secretary for "The Other Russia", a strange coalition of anti-Putin political groups which encompasses hardline nationalists, communists and pro-Western activists.

In short, bearing in mind all of the above, it looks like a new episode of geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West is unfolding in Moldova. This battle is not over yet and whatever its outcome turns out to be, its strategic implications will be deep because they will send strong shockwaves throughout Eastern Europe and the post Soviet space. The stakes are certainly being raised in this new round of the Great Game. A few years ago, notorious neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer observed that "This [Ukraine's Orange Revolution] is about Russia first, democracy second". The same phrase applies to Moldova's Twitter Revolution.

José Miguel Alonso Trabanco is an independent writer based in Mexico specialising in geopoltical and military affairs. He has a degree in International Relations from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Studies, Mexico City. His focus is on contemporary and historic geopolitics, the world's balance of power, the international system's architecture and the emergence of new powers.

José Miguel Alonso Trabanco is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by José Miguel Alonso Trabanco.

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The "New Great Game" in Eurasia is being fought in its "Buffer Zones" Moldova: Caught between NATO and Russia? - by Mahdi Darius

The "New Great Game" in Eurasia is being fought in its "Buffer Zones"
Moldova: Caught between NATO and Russia?

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, April 21, 2009

On April 7, 2009 in Moldova's capital Chisinau, supporters of the Liberal Party of Moldova, the Liberal-Democratic Party of Moldova, and the Our Moldova Alliance ignited violent protests in response to the results of Moldova's parliamentary elections. They respectively won 13.14%, 12.43%, and 9.77% of the total vote, while the ruling party, the Communist Party of Moldova won 49.48% of the vote. The Christian-Democratic People's Party of Moldova also won 3.03% of the vote. While international observers have said that no irregularities were seen in the parliamentary elections, the three main opposition parties said that it was rigged and, in an all too familiar modus operandi, started violent protests.

The current crisis in Moldova, a former constituent republic of what was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), is part of the same continuum of geo-strategic events and crises in Eurasia extending from Asia to the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It is one of two types of regime change:

1. "Colour revolutions" characterized by political struggles and civil strife invariably triggered through U.S.-NATO interference and covert intelligence operations: Lebanon, Burma (Myanmar), Ukraine, the former Yugoslavia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tibet, and Georgia.

2. Outright military intervention: Afghanistan and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.

"Self-determination" is a factor in all these conflicts. "Self-determination," "Democracy," and "Governance" are used as a pretext for outright military intervention (e.g., Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq) or interference as in the case of the "colour revolutions" unleashed in Eurasia.

The Struggle for Eurasia's Buffer Zones: From the Balkans and Central Asia to Southeast Asia

In Ukraine, this contest, starting in 2004, has almost geographically polarized the Slavic nation into two halves. The Orangist forces, led by the corrupt Viktor Yushchenko (who would become president) and Yulia Tymoshenko (who would become premier), dominate the Western Ukraine and the Party of the Regions and its political allies dominate the Crimea, Southern Ukraine in general, and Eastern Ukraine. The threat of Ukraine dividing into two states looms over the country as a result of this.

In Lebanon, events unfolded in 2005 within the framework of the so-called "Cedar Revolution" and led to the political and violent face-offs between the March 14 Alliance and the Lebanese National Opposition. Both sides have aligned themselves with outside players and powers, but their objectives should be measured by their independent freedom of choice from these outside powers, the source of their decision making, and why they have sided with outside powers. The popular and legitimate demands of the Lebanese people in 2005 were harnessed and translated into what has become a parliamentary majority by only a few sets by the March 14 Alliance. The March 14 Alliance's goals are not in the best interest of Lebanon, but are in the interests of their own political leaders as has been the case of most Lebanese politicians.

In Burma, the contest was played out, in 2007, between the so-called pro-democracy forces led by Buddhist monks and the Burmese government, which is a military junta closely allied to the People's Republic of China. The clashes were totally misrepresented by the media in Australia, the E.U., the U.S., and Canada, amongst other places.

In Georgia this struggle started in 2003 with the Rose Revolution and has been fought out since between Mikheil Saakashvili and the Georgian National Opposition on the political front. Militarily it has translated into conflict with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, with the intervention of Russia as a combatant.

In the Balkans, the struggle over Kosovo is another front in this geo-strategic struggle. The struggle for securing Kosovo is part of a wider venture to control the entire former Yugoslavia and the Balkans, which in panoramic terms are part of the mammoth struggle over Eurasia. The background to the situation in Kosovo is tied to the division and foreign sponsored civil strife of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, later the military attacks against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the 2000 colour revolution in the Serbian half of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the separation of Montenegro in 2006 from the Union of Serbia and Montenegro (a restructured configuration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and finally the declaration of Kosovar independence in 2008.

In all these colour revolutions there is a factor that is missing: "informed" consent from the public. If the majority of the people supporting the Rose Revolution knew what its underlying motivations were and to what it would equate, it simply would not have happened. In fact there are members of the Georgian National Opposition we were supporters of the Rose Revolution when it was sparked, but realized the fraud behind it. It should also be pointed out that there were those in Georgia who also joined the opposition forces because of self-serving interests too. In Lebanon the case is similar, Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement supported the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon with the March 14 Alliance, but refused to join them in political alliance.

Although not part of Eurasia, the conflict zone in Darfur, Sudan is also a consequence of the same pattern and modus operandi. While there is a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the underlying causes of the conflict have been manipulated. The reason for this tragedy, in which the Sudanese people are the victims, is intimately related to economic and strategic interests.

The U.S. and the E.U. are behind the fighting and instability in Darfur and have assisted in the training, financing, and arming of forces opposing the Sudanese government. They demonize the Sudanese government and place all blame squarely on its shoulders while they fuel the conflict in order to move in and control Sudan. In this context, NATO is anxious to get its boots on the ground in Darfur in so-called peacekeeping missions.

Russia, Iran, and China oppose U.S. and E.U. pushes to intervene in Sudan. This is the reason why Russia and China oppose U.S., British, and French efforts to internationalize Sudan's domestic problems and the reason why Iran led an international parliamentary delegation to Khartoum in a show of solidarity when an arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) for Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Basher, the president of Sudan, which is politically motivated and part of a manipulated discourse. If the I.C.C. was truly impartial, by the same token, it would have sent arrest warrants out for George W. Bush Jr., Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Condolezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and a whole set of other leaders too, a long time ago.

The Rivalry for Eurasia: The Periphery versus Eurasian Powers

In each one of these struggles, there is rivalry between a distinctly "Eurasian base of power" and a "Peripheral base of power" that is dominated by Western Europe and the United States. In other words, the struggle opposes Eurasia to the Ocean-based powers of the Periphery. It is in this context that Eurasian powers have always been strong in regards to land power or their armies, while the Peripheral Powers have had superior navies. This is why Britain and Japan had powerful navies historically and why the U.S., on a global scale, has the largest navy. A look at China and Russia will show that they have had and continue to have large and powerful land forces.

Crowds can be worked on any ideals, but power is exercised on the basis of motives. With the proliferation of these colour revolutions in geographically and culturally diverse places, conflict can no longer be seen in the historic, and manufactured, East versus West lens of the Cold War era. To tag the opposing sides in Ukraine as pro-Russian/anti-Russian or pro-Western/anti-Western and in Lebanon as pro-Syrian/anti-Syrian or pro-Western/anti-Western does not recognize the reality and geo-political complexity of the Eurasian environment. It does not also recognize the indigenous dimension or facet of the colour revolutions. The demands and desires of crowds is a factor, but the objectives of the leaders in these rings should be the basis of any critical evaluation.

The geographic list of places given is where fluctuating battles on the basis of political manipulation are taking place. Offensive geo-strategic penetration by the Peripheral Powers and defensive geo-strategic attempts by the Eurasian Powers to roll-back these penetrative pushes is taking place in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The battle-fronts are in Eurasia with Eurasian Powers themselves being the ultimate prizes for the Peripheral Powers.

Lebanon is being contested over in a match that has the indigenous elites allied with the Periphery or Eurasia. The Peripheral Powers, which include Israel and NATO as agents, consider Lebanon as a geo-political hub that can be used to penetrate into Syria, isolate Iran, and to further marginalize the Palestinians. Control over Lebanon is also a means for Israel to secure its strategic foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Control of Lebanon would also threaten the interests of Russia and China in the long-term too because of the petro-politics of the energy corridor in the Levant. This is one of the reasons that the Russians, along with Iran and Syria, provided supportive military intelligence to the Lebanese Resistance when Lebanon was being attacked by Israel in 2006.

The resentment of the Lebanese towards the past presence of Syria in northern Lebanon is legitimate, but there should be no mistake the Cedar Revolution was used as a cover by individuals and interests who are the anti-theses of popular sovereignty. If the leaders of the March 14 Alliance had the power to do so and could, they would quash any opposition to them by force. This does not by virtue epitomize the Lebanese National Opposition as exemplary either. Nabih Berri, the leader of the Amal Movement, is someone who has been known for his corruption in the past. The motives of the general population and the motives of political leaders are very different. The narrative that has been given about the sentiments for the rallies of the Cedar Revolution, in a popular sense may be true, but the motives for its political aspects are not.

The real narrative behind the so-called democratic uprising, or Saffron Revolution, in Burma is similar. It was originally the result of an expression of public anger over rising prices, which were a result of sanctions by Peripheral Powers like the U.S., the E.U., Japan, and Australia against Burma. Without denying or overlooking the authoritarian nature of the Burmese military government, the destabilization of Burma is motivated by geo-strategic objectives to install a government that would be opposed to Chinese national interests and energy security.

The democratic or undemocratic nature of such a government is not the real issue. International relations are about unprincipled realpolitik, albeit masked realpolitik. The real issue is the encirclement of China and the obstruction of Chinese attempts to create a secure energy route to the Middle East and Africa bypassing areas controlled by the U.S. Navy and its allies, such as Singapore and Taiwan. This is what China has been attempting to do by building ports and bases in the Indian Ocean that provide a securer route. Burma is essential to this formula.

Click here for larger image.

Note: The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are two of the overlapping alliances that outline "Eurasia" as a political entity.

Countries are defined by the following colours; Dark Blue countries are those that are full members of both the SCO and CSTO (Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrzgystan, and Uzbekistan); Turquoise countries are only full SCO members (only China); Medium Blue countries are only full CSTO members (Armenia and Belarus); and Light Blue countries are CSTO candidates with cooperation status with CSTO (only Iran).

Targeting Moldova: Europe's Only Real Neutral State

Moldova is historically a Romanian entity and is also one of two countries in the political landscape of Europe headed by a president belonging to a communist party. The other country with a communist leader in the abstract polity of Europe is Cyprus, which is also a E.U. member. Moldova is also a representative democracy and has a relatively fair government in comparison to its neighbours and surroundings in Eastern Europe.

Moldova is run by a communist political party. Despite the fact that communists run Moldova, it is not run under the framework of a Marxist-Leninist economy. There is an attempt to analogously portray Moldova in a tainted or negative light simply because its government is formed by a communist party.

Even more intriguing, Moldova has managed to remain neutral: Chisinau has been pulled and pushed by the "West" (or Periphery, namely the periphery of Western Eurasia and the Outer Crescent), meaning the U.S. and E.U. on the one hand. This occurs while Eurasia, meaning Russia and its allies, push and pull Moldova from the other direction. The Moldovan government has stubbornly held onto its non-aligned position in the face of alluring offers and threats from both sides. Neutrality is a fundamental block of the political culture of Moldova. A neutral national position is also enshrined in Moldova’s constitution and laws.

Historically neutral nations caught between rivals have never fared well. Moldova has remained one of the poorest nations in Europe because of its neutral position. It has sat on the political fence and tried to balance both the pulls of Eurasia and the Periphery by cooperating with both sides. This is why Moldova is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), which gravitates towards Russia, while it is also a member of the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, which leans towards integration with the E.U. and NATO.

Because of its neutrality, no side has wanted to strengthen and develop Moldova out of the fear that it could one day join the opposing camp. Nor is Moldova rich in natural resources like Turkmenistan, which also held a policy of neutrality. The position of Turkmenistan, however, has shifted from its neutral position. Although Turkmenistan may claim to be officially neutral, its vita activa says otherwise. It is a matter of time before Turkmenistan in some way or manner joins the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and other organizations espousing fidelity or allegiance to Eurasia.

The tiny breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester (or Transnistria/Transdniestria), which is part of Moldova and mostly peopled by Slavic groups (i.e., Russians, Ukrainians, and Bulgarians), is another face of this Eurasia-Periphery push that Moldova is caught in between. Trans-Dniester exists, at the expense of Moldova, because of Russian geo-strategic interests. Like NATO troops in Kosovo, without Russian troops the tiny breakaway republic would have collapsed. Russian interests have allowed the regionalist, nationalist, and pan-Slavic feelings in Trans-Dniester to build. As a result Russian troops have continued to remain in Moldova under peacekeeping duties. The military position of Russia in Moldova has always been viewed as important by Moscow as a means to counter NATO in Romania and the Balkans.

Map of Moldova with Highlighted Trans-Dniester


The West/NATO makes its move against Moldova

Despite of its neutrality, the U.S. and the E.U. have decided to bring Moldova into their "Euro-Atlantic" or "Trans-Atlantic" orbit. This is implemented with the objective of undermining the rising Eurasian Powers, namely Russia and its allies. The Peripheral Powers fear that Moldova will eventually be lost to Eurasia and so they have acted. This move has been in haste too. The protests in Moldova are the result of a NATO-E.U. covert operation.

The objective in Moldova has been regime change vis-à-vis a Moldovan colour revolution modeled on those in Ukraine and Georgia. Once again, colour revolutions brought Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko into power in Ukraine and Mikheil Saakashvili into power in Georgia.

The essential thematic point of this event is not the nature of the Moldovan government, but the political allegiance and alignment of such a government in relation to the E.U., the U.S., and NATO. "Freedom" and "justice" are not genuine concerns of the U.S. and E.U., they are merely pretexts for justifying the toppling of other national governments, violent regime change, and the creation of dependent neo-colonial shadow societies.

It is in this context that the E.U. and U.S. are making statements that inwardly and discreetly, in Orwellian terms, support the violent protests in Moldova. The European Union's Foreign Policy and Security Chief, Javier Solana is one of the officials that have made statements that are supportive of both sides and that seem innocent on the surface. Under the surface, however, they have a double meaning; this is Orwellian doublespeak. While calling for an end to violence Javier Solana has also essentially legitimized the protests against the fair outcome of a democratic election by saying that the protests are valid. As a result of the instability brought about by the protests and the support given to the political organizers of the protest by the E.U. and the U.S. the Moldovan government has openly expressed feeling threatened by the E.U., NATO, and Romania.

Moldova’s government holds a firm conviction that Romania is being used as a bridgehead for a regime change campaign in Chisinau. The Romanian government has also given support to the protests. One of the main demands of the protestors is integration with the E.U. and Romania. This desire is not a crime, but it has not been democratically realized or received any type of mandate by a demographic majority in Moldova. Following the protests, certain Romanian citizens, including journalists, were expelled from Moldova for causing instability and declared persona non grata.

The Identity Game in Eurasia; Moldovans: Romanians or Not?

The double standards that the U.S. and E.U. use are blatantly exposed in their treatment of the protests in Moldova. The Moldovan government has pointed to the use of the Romanian and E.U. flags by the protesters as they stormed government buildings as a threat to Moldova’s independence and as part of a push for the political takeover of Moldova by Romania. Most Moldovans are ethnic or linguistic Romanians, but the use of these flags have a political tag and an under the surface meaning to them.

The media in the so-called West illuminates the fact that the Moldovan government dislikes the use of Romanian flags and tries to suppress Moldova's Romanian identity. They point to the fact that Moldavian, which is the official language of Moldova, is really Romanian and other such facts. Yet, just a few nations across from Moldova, in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina they do the opposite and distinctively try to alienate or separate the Bosnian dialect of Serbo-Croatian from that of Serbia. While the Bosnian dialect of Serbo-Croatian is distinct in some cases from the dialect of Serbo-Croatian in Serbia, it is not a separate language.

The U.S. and E.U. have objectified the people of the former Yugoslavia through dividing practices, leading to differential classification, and finally the subjectification or internalization of prescribed and manufactured identities or new ethnic tags. Individual personality or self-conceptualization can be changed dynamically under very traumatic situations, such as war, and individuals can become very open to suggestions and form new self-concepts based on these new suggestions very rapidly. This case is also very true about shaping individual societies through shock therapy in the form of war, sanctions, or/and neo-liberal restructuring. This dimension of war and conflict is something that strategic policy circles in the U.S. and NATO also take into consideration. To make way for new identities is why national heritage and cultural sites in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, such as museums, were deliberately destroyed by the U.S., Britain, and NATO.

A similar modus operandi has been applied in Anglo-American occupied Iraq through the confessionalization of the Iraqi identity into Shiites and Sunnis. Iraq has wrongly been portrayed along the lines of two sectarian groupings (Shiite and Sunni) amongst the Arabs (a single ethnic group) in addition to the Kurdish ethnicity (which are mostly Muslims of the Sunni confession). This is also what happened in the former Yugoslavia, specifically Bosnia-Herzegovina, amongst the Bosnian followers of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Islam; two of these "Southern Slav" (Yugo-Slav) groups, the Serbs and the Croats, were sister ethnic groups of very close proximity, but the Bosniak identity and self-conception was manufactured through a manipulated discourse for the Muslims. The majority, but not all (some Bosniaks are Muslim Croats), of the Bosniaks and Bosnian Serbs were the same ethnic group just with different faiths. This does not mean that the Bosnian identity is false, because Bosnia-Herzegovina has had a distinct historic identity and its own separate traditions from Serbia analogues to the distinctions between Austria and Germany.

It should also be noted that the majority of Austrians are Roman Catholic, while Germany is mixed between Protestants in its northern areas and Roman Catholics in its southern areas, but this has not resulted in the manufactured creation of two separate identities. On the contrary, the confessional differences between Germany and Austria have resulted in different polities in two historically powerful entities. Yet, new ethnic identity has been manufactured on these grounds in the former Yugoslavia. Paradoxically, while the E.U. grows and advocates for pluralism in a united Europe the nations outside of its sphere in the European continent have systematically been divided and fallen apart (e.g., the former Czechoslovakia, the former Yugoslavia, and the former Soviet Union). In the process the E.U. and NATO have been moving in and absorbing these areas.

Also, the U.S. and the E.U. have never contested the claims of a Montenegrin language and ethnicity. Instead both the E.U. and U.S. have supported this differentiation process between Montenegrins and Serbs. This does not mean that Montenegrins do not have a distinct identity and history. Montenegrins are distinct, but they do not form a separate ethnic group or language. In addition, the branch of Eastern Orthodoxy in Montenegro is represented by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Yet, through a manipulated political process a Montenegrin Orthodox Church has been created. In parallel to the Roman Catholic Church of China, because of the manipulated discourse behind the creation of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church it is not recognized as a legitimate church by all Eastern Orthodoxy. Scratching under the surface one will find that the support for this church is used by local Montenegrin elites working with the E.U. and the U.S. to alienate their own people from the Serbs.

Going back to Austria, if one also recalls the historic discourse of Europe, they will also realize that the Austrians who are ethnic Germans have been denied unification with Germany. This happened first after the First World War when Austro-Hungary was dismantled and whilst the Wilsonian concept of the nation-state was being applied to Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but deliberately excluded the Germans. The Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of St. Germain both forthright prohibited unification between Austria and Germany, which was a popular idea until after the Second World War. Later, in 1945, after the surrender of Germany in the Second World War the U.S., Britain, the Soviet Union, and France partitioned Austria from Germany (claiming to undo the 1938 "Anaschluss" of Austria and Germany by Adolph Hitler) and discouraged pan-German views.

This narrative does not reject the distinct identity of Austria, but it illustrates that the definitions of "just causes" are defined by the motives of those in power. These considerations should be a facet in any of the foci of the historic discourse of modern nation-building in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Why have the national aspirations of the Flemish in Belgium or the Basque in the Pyrenees never been recognized, while, for example, Czechoslovakian secession from the Austro-Hungarian Empire was recognized by the U.S. before the Czechs and Slovaks even declared it? Two standards are being applied: one for "us" and another for "them" or more specifically "our rivals." This cannot be excused as an ethnocentric mistake or unconscious exceptionalism on the part of strategic planners either (maybe on the part of populations) because it is full knowingly calculated.

Moldova: An Element of the Military Equation in Eastern Europe?

Although Moldova is a tiny state, if it were to solidly ally itself with Russia and enter the CSTO alliance it would affect the geo-strategic map of Eastern Europe. Every country counts in the formula of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe. The entry of Chisinau into the Russian orbit would allow Russia to amass more troops into Moldova and provide Moscow with another missile base, aside from the ones in Belarus and its Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic Sea to counter the NATO-U.S. missile shield being built in Eastern Europe to encircle the European core of Russia.

Such a move would also put significant pressure on Romania, and by extension NATO. It would also bring another Russian plan one step closer to fruition; the idea of bringing Serbia into CSTO. In such a scenario, Romania would be flanked on two sides. On one side would be Serbia as a CSTO member and on the other Moldova and really the Russian military through Moldova. This idea has been entertained in Serbia and by members of the CSTO alliance. Not only would Romania feel the heat, but so would Bulgaria because of its border with Serbia. However, for such a scheme to materialize there would need to be a new direction taken by Belgrade at the economic and political levels.

An end to Moldovan Neutrality?

Returning to Moldova, it is the inclusion of Chisinau, or its partnership, with Russia that is viable. In the post-Yeltsin days of Russia, in Moscow's eyes the view has been that if Moldova would not ally with Russia, it would rather see Moldova stay neutral. Russia has come to the political support of Moldova’s government. In these tensions no side is saintly, but it is worth noting that it is not Russia, China, Iran or their other allies that want war. On the contrary, the Eurasian Powers do not need war for their influence to grow. It is the nations of the Periphery, such as the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, and Israel, that need war to obstruct their own declines and keep other states from rising.

Because of the April 2009 protests in Chisinau there will be new geo-strategic ramifications in Eastern Europe. These changes will be similar to the ones that were sparked in 2005 in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. In 2005, the failed attempt at a colour revolution in Uzbekistan saw the Central Asian republic leave the GUUAM group, evict Western NGOs, evict the U.S. from an Uzbek military base, downgrade ties with NATO, embrace Russia, and return to CSTO.

The outcome of the protests and failed colour revolution in Moldova will ultimately see an end to Moldova’s neutrality. Either Moldova will turn to the so-called West, if regime change becomes successful, or lean inwards towards its organic affiliations, Russia and Eurasia. The most likely scenario is that Moldova will ally itself with Russia and, in some manner, with CSTO as a result of the "Twitter Revolution" of 2009, another geo-strategic error by the U.S. and its allies in Eurasia.



The "Twitter Revolution" in Photographs


Source: The official press agency of the Republic of Moldova, Moldpres

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa, specializing in geopolitical issues. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Russia, Turkey declare new era with ‘strategic’ document

Russia, Turkey declare new era with ‘strategic’ document
Global Research, February 14, 2009
Today`s Zaman

Babacan, speaking in Riga ahead of the Moscow visit, advised the United States, NATO and the European Union not to adopt a confrontational attitude in their dealings with Russia.
Babacan said Thursday that Turkey and Russia enjoyed "normal, friendly relations," while noting that Russia is Turkey's largest trading partner.
The key term is cooperation. A strategy of confrontation with Russia is not going to give positive results and risks producing lose-lose outcomes," he warned in response to a question about Russian plans to station Iskander missiles in its Kaliningrad Baltic enclave in response to US plans for a "missile shield" in central and Eastern Europe.


The presidents of Russia and Turkey signed a joint declaration in Moscow yesterday aimed at deepening friendly relations and improving multidimensional cooperation between the two countries, with the Russian side defining the declaration as a “strategic document.”

Turkish President Abdullah Gül arrived in Moscow on Thursday, accompanied by State Minister Responsible for Foreign Trade Kürşad Tüzmen and Energy Minister Hilmi Güler, in addition to his spouse, Hayrünnisa Gül, and a large business delegation. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan joined the delegation, traveling from Riga, Latvia, where he paid an official visit, to Moscow late on Thursday.

The four-day visit by Gül, a former foreign minister, to Moscow in his capacity as president was classified as “a state visit” upon the Russian side’s request, although it was earlier planned as “an official visit.” Moscow’s request displayed the importance attached to the visit -- as a state visit is described as the highest level of state protocol -- and made Gül the first Turkish president to ever pay a state visit to Russia.

Gül’s visit officially began yesterday with a welcoming ceremony held ahead of his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Grand Kremlin Palace’s St. George Hall. The Itar-Tass news agency highlighted that the ceremony was required by the protocol.

Speaking ahead of their meeting, Medvedev highlighted bilateral cooperation in the Black Sea region in particular.

"Turkey and Russia are doing much for the maintenance of security in the Black Sea region and the Caucasus in general. We count on strategic cooperation with Turkey in that sphere. I think both our countries are interested in it. We hope such coordination will be maintained," Medvedev said. "I am sure the visit to Russia will become a turning point for bringing our relations to a new, higher level," Gül said.

Following their meeting, the two leaders signed a joint declaration which Gül said displayed mutual political will to carry the ongoing multidimensional bilateral cooperation to a further point.

"I believe that this visit will open a new page between our countries," Gül said, underlining that it was a state visit.

Back in December 2004, during a landmark visit to Ankara by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was president at the time, the two countries signed a "Joint Declaration on the Intensification of Friendship and Multidimensional Partnership." Putin's visit was the first presidential visit in the history of Turkish-Russian relations since that of Chairman of the Presidium Nikolai Podgorny in 1972. Russia is an important trade partner for Turkey, with a total annual trade volume of $38 billion between the two countries, and has close political relations with common strategic interests, especially in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Turkey depends on Russian energy supplies, but it is also a transit route for Russian energy exports. Russia, Turkey's main supplier of natural gas, is the biggest market for Turkey's construction firms and millions of Russian tourists visit Turkey's Mediterranean coast every year.

Unlike its Western allies, Turkey refrained from strong condemnations of Russia's actions during the outbreak of a brief war between Russia and Georgia last August, fearing such language could hurt its vital economic ties with Russia.

Russia, meanwhile, had denounced US and NATO naval presence in the Black Sea, which can only be accessed via the Turkish Straits, as a "provocation." Later, however, a statement appreciating appropriate implementation of the 1936 Montreux Convention, which governs passage through the Turkish Straits, came from the Russian capital.

Babacan, speaking in Riga ahead of the Moscow visit, advised the United States, NATO and the European Union not to adopt a confrontational attitude in their dealings with Russia.

Babacan said Thursday that Turkey and Russia enjoyed "normal, friendly relations," while noting that Russia is Turkey's largest trading partner.

"The key term is cooperation. A strategy of confrontation with Russia is not going to give positive results and risks producing lose-lose outcomes," he warned in response to a question about Russian plans to station Iskander missiles in its Kaliningrad Baltic enclave in response to US plans for a "missile shield" in central and Eastern Europe.

Technical delegation for customs issue

Russia and Turkey agreed to form a joint technical delegation for overcoming ongoing problems that Turkish truck drivers have faced at Russian customs, the Anatolia news agency reported from Moscow yesterday, citing anonymous sources. The decision for establishing such a delegation was made during the meeting between Gül and Medvedev when the former raised the issue, and the proposal for a delegation came from Medvedev, Anatolia said.

Turkey and Russia agreed last September to simplify customs procedures for Turkish goods at a time when the two countries faced serious trade problems that emerged after Russia began to impose tougher inspections on Turkish trucks at border crossings. "We have a multidimensional and strengthened relationship with Russia, and we're pleased to see this relationship improving. When relations are wide and complex to this extent, then problems will naturally occur. These are technical problems. We'll have the opportunity of removing these at the highest-level meetings," Gül said ahead of his visit, in response to a question concerning the issue.

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