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"In the control room of Azerbaijan's sprawling oil terminal near the capital, Baku, Bala Mirza sits peering at a fuzzy map on a computer monitor. The outline of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey looks like little more than a jumble of hills and farming towns. But for the engineer, 41, what lies underground has rocked his world: a new 1,100-mile oil pipeline, which in recent months has tied this tiny country on the edge of the Caspian Sea to the huge Western market....This Muslim republic [Azerbaijan], directly north of Iran and tucked into the southwest corner of the vast former Soviet empire, is suddenly a central player in one of the West's most distressing problems: how the U.S. and Europe will secure enough oil and gas to power cities, factories, airplanes and cars--in short, how to keep our entire modern lives afloat. Since last June, hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day have surged through a pipeline running from Baku through Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Named the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), the $4 billion pipeline is one of the world's longest and is operated by the British-American oil company BP, with partners that include U.S. oil companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Hess. By spring, about 1 million bbl. a day will move down the pipe, and BP could increase that soon after to about 1.5 million bbl. a day. A parallel BP pipeline opened last month to send hundreds of billions of cubic feet of natural gas from the Caspian to Western Europe, in order to break the Continent's overwhelming reliance on Russia....Fifteen years after the Soviet Union's collapse, it's tempting to think of the cold war as history--until you land in Baku. This is the front line of a new East-West contest, one that is as consequential as the nuclear-weapons face-off of the past: the battle for energy supplies among countries heavily dependent on imported oil and gas, which include the U.S. and the E.U., plus the rocketing economies of China and India. That necessity is a powerful weapon in this new battle.....The U.S. sees its alliance with a republic of just 8.4 million people--about the same population as New York City--as key to securing energy supplies at a time when China and the rest of Asia are competing for new sources. The Caspian, which is largely unexplored, probably accounts for 7% of the world's oil reserves, and the oil flowing through the new West-bound pipeline still represents a mere 1% of global supply. But ultimately some of the gas from Khazakstan and Turkmenistan's much larger natural-gas fields across the Caspian from Baku could flow through BP's pipelines, turning to the West rather than to Asia. 'The pipeline is changing the strategic map in a very major way,' says a senior State Department official. A glance at the map shows why: Azerbaijan is sandwiched between two energy giants--Iran to the south and Russia to the north--allies and old U.S. foes whose reserves will last decades. The U.S. has three interests in Azerbaijan: securing energy, spreading democracy and fighting terrorism. Vafa Guluzadeh, a former adviser to President Heydar Aliyev, whose decade-long rule over Azerbaijan ended in 2003 when he maneuvered his son Ilham's succession, remembers translating a phone call from President Bill Clinton to his boss in 1994. 'Clinton said, 'Mr President, we need to diversify the oil pipelines. We need a new route.'... Azerbaijan might be secular, but it is hardly democratic. Local elections in 2005 and the presidential vote that brought Ilham Aliyev to power in 2003 were both flawed, according to U.N. and American election observers. A free press? Hardly. One afternoon in December, TIME's team was taken to a police station near Baku and questioned for three hours about our activities....Some Azeris believe Western governments prefer energy security to political freedom, as was sought in the 2004 revolution in Ukraine--a major transhipper of natural gas to Western Europe. 'The U.S. will never support democrats in Azerbaijan because of their oil interests,' says Guluzadeh."
Oil's Vital New Power
TIME, 12 January 2007

Blair lubricates BP agreement
with 'police state'
Aliyev, 1998

"It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Tomorrow New Labour’s ethical policy will drown symbolically in a poisonous cocktail of blood and oil when the Queen shakes hands with Azerbaijan’s President Aliev. Her Majesty may be forgiven for thinking this is one export-driven photo-opportunity too many. The Queen has dutifully entertained tyrants of all stripes but she has never had to shake hands with a SMERSH agent before.... Today, as President of Azerbaijan his secret police regularly arrest scores of critics allegedly plotting against him and thousands languish in his old haunts, the ex-KGB prisons. Others simply disappear. Yet Aliev’s Azerbaijan is respectable. There is one word to explain this bizarre fact: Oil.... Azeri democracy was uniquely Aliev-style.... oil decreed that Aliev had won 98.9% of the votes - a modest 1% fall from his last Soviet-era total... A gaggle of ex-Tory MPs and former Foreign Office diplomats know the value of keeping in with Aliev. So does a host of stars of George Bush’s Administration... [now] Tony Blair is wining and dining Aliev..."
Aliev In Britain
Daily Mail, 20 July 1998

"A secret intelligence report accuses BP, Britain's biggest company, of backing a military coup which installed a ruthless KGB hardman in the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan. An intelligence officer says BP... later consolidated its position with the new regime when the middlemen arranged to supply the incoming government with military equipment in an 'arms-for-oil' deal.... Aliyev's arrival was welcomed by Britain and America, which have a strategic interest in securing oil rights. BP has close links to British intelligence and employs several former MI6 officers... Lord Simon of Highbury, Tony Blair's former trade minister... was BP's group chief executive at the time of the coup... Blair gave [Aliyev] red-carpet treatment when he visited London in 1998 to sign a friendship treaty and $13 billion (£9.5 billion) in contracts with BP and other British firms...."
BP accused of backing 'arms for oil' coup
Sunday Times, 26 March 2000

"BP executives working for Lord Browne spent millions of pounds on champagne-fuelled sex parties to help secure lucrative international oil contracts. The company also worked with MI6 to help bring about changes in foreign governments, according to an astonishing account of life inside the oil giant [...according to] Les Abrahams, who led BP's successful bid for a multi-million-pound deal with one of the former Soviet republics [Azerbaijan] ... While employed by BP, Mr Abrahams says he was persuaded to work for MI6 by John Scarlett .... Some of Mr Abrahams' most intriguing claims surround the alleged co-operation between BP and the British intelligence services to secure a more pro-Western, pro-business regime in the country. He says the operation, masterminded by Scarlett in Moscow, contributed to the coup in May 1992 which saw President Ayaz Mutalibov toppled by Abulfaz Elchibey, and then to a second change a year later which saw Haydar Aliyev take power. Just months after Aliyev was installed, BP signed the so-called 'contract of the century', a £5 billion deal which placed BP at the head of an oil exporting consortium. ..... 'BP supported both coups, both through discreet moves and open political support. Our progress on the oil contracts improved considerably after the coups.' [said Abrahams] Subsequently released Turkish secret service documents claimed BP had discussed an 'arms for oil' deal with the assistance of MI6, under which the company would use intermediaries to supply weapons to Aliyev's supporters in return for the contract... When the documents emerged in 2000, BP denied supplying arms - although sources admitted its representatives had 'discussed the possibility'.... [T]he Foreign Office said of Mr Abrahams' claims: 'We neither confirm nor deny anyone's allegations in relation to intelligence matters.'"
Hookers, spies, cases full of dollars... how BP spent £45m to win 'Wild East' oil rights
Daily Mail, 12 May 2007

A Caucasian Republic
On An Oil Transit Corridor
Between The Caspian And Black Seas
Click Here

"The vast expanses of the former Soviet Union harbor oil and gas riches which will be crucial in fueling the global economy in the next century. The huge oil reserves, estimated at over 25 billion barrels, under the Caspian Sea and in the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are similar to those in Kuwait and larger than those in Alaska's Northern Slope and the North Sea combined. Control over these energy resources and export routes out of the Eurasian hinterland is quickly becoming one of the central issues in post-Cold War politics. Like the 'Great Game' of the early 20th century, in which the geopolitical interests of the British Empire and Russia clashed over the Caucasus region and Central Asia, today's struggle between Russia and the West may turn on who controls the oil reserves in Eurasia. The world now faces a choice between the cooperative exploitation by the East and West of natural resources or a wasteful struggle that could cost a fortune in blood and treasure. Regional conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia threaten to deny Western access to the vital oil and gas reserves the world will need in the 21st century. .......The U.S. needs to ensure free and fair access for all interested parties to the oil fields of the Caucasus and Central Asia. These resources are crucial to ensuring prosperity in the first half of the 21st century and beyond. Access to Eurasian energy reserves could reduce the West's dependence on Middle East oil and ensure lower oil and gas prices for decades to come..... the West has a paramount interest in assuring that the Caucasian and Central Asian states maintain their independence and remain open to the West. Otherwise, Moscow will capture almost monopolistic control over this vital energy resource, thus increasing Western dependence upon Russian-dominated oil reserves and export routes.... The U.S. should support a pipeline route through the territory of Georgia and Turkey that will bring oil from Eurasia to a Mediterranean port such as Ceyhan in Turkey..... One of the main goals of the Russian attack on Chechnya in December of 1994 was to ensure control of the oil pipeline which runs from Baku, via Grozny, the Chechen capital, to the Russian city of Tikhoretsk. The pipeline ends at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, designed by Russia to be the terminal for the proposed Kazakh and Azerbaijani pipelines. In addition, Grozny boasts a large refinery with a processing capacity of 12 million tons per year.... Russia launched a massive but covert military action in the fall of 1994 to support opponents of Dudayev. In 1994, Dudayev turned to radical Islamic elements in the Middle East and Central Asia for support. This exacerbated the religious aspect of the conflict between the Muslim Chechens and Christian Orthodox Russians.... Another conflict affecting potential oil routes is occuring in the Caucasus republic of Georgia. Russia wants to prevent oil from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan from going the 'Western' route through Georgia to Turkey. Moscow's support of civil strife in Georgia is directly connected to its goal of perpetuating conflict in the Caucasus.... Another dangerous conflict is smoldering in Abkhazia, a breakaway region in Georgia. The bitter war in Abkhazia, which began in 1992, has claimed over 35,000 lives. It was precipitated by the Russian military backing the Abkhaz separatist minority against the Georgian government in Tbilisi. One purpose of the Russian intervention was to weaken Georgia and curb Turkish and Western influence in the region. But more important was the Russian goal of controlling access to oil. By acting as it did, Russia gained de facto control over the long Black Sea coastline in Abkhazia. Moscow also was protecting the Russian Black Sea ports of Novorossiysk and Tuapse and moving closer to the Georgian oil exporting ports in Poti, Supsa, and Batumi. In August 1995, Georgia's beleaguered President Shevardnadze agreed to place four Russian military bases on Georgian soil, thus assuring Russia's control of the oil exporting routes via the Black Sea coast.....The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is important because of the immense oil reserves controlled by Azerbaijan. Since the late 19th century, the oil in Azerbaijan has played a key role in the economies of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union, as well as in the global energy market. International business interests, such as the Nobel and Rothschild families, and even conquerors like Adolf Hitler have all vied at different times for control of Azerbaijan's oil. Even after 100 years of Russian imperial and Soviet exploitation, Azerbaijan still has some of the largest reserves in the world..... On October 9, 1995, the Azerbaijani International Oil Consortium (AIOC) announced that 'early' oil (approximately 80,000 barrels a month) would be split between two pipelines. The northern line would go to the Russian port of Novorossiysk (via unstable Chechnya) and the western line to the Georgian port of Supsa in two separate pipelines. This was a compromise decision supported by the Clinton Administration and aimed at placating Moscow, but it failed to do so.... Moscow has gone beyond words to establish its power in the Caucasus. The Russians are setting up military bases in the region in order to gain exclusive control over all future pipelines. Georgia now has four Russian bases and Armenia has three, while Azerbaijan is still holding out under severe pressure from Moscow. In addition, members of the Commonwealth of Independent States are required to police their borders jointly with Russian border guards, and thus are denied effective control over their own territory..... The struggle to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia started in early 1992. While not a full-scale war, this struggle employs a broad spectrum of military, covert, diplomatic, and economic measures. The southern tier of the former Soviet Union is a zone of feverish Russian activity aimed at tightening Moscow's grip in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse. The entire southern rim of Russia is a turbulent frontier, a highly unstable environment in which metropolitan civilian and military elites, local players, and mid-level officers and bureaucrats drive the process of reintegration...... Much is at stake in Eurasia for the U.S. and its allies. Attempts to restore its empire will doom Russia's transition to a democracy and free-market economy. The ongoing war in Chechnya alone has cost Russia $6 billion to date (equal to Russia's IMF and World Bank loans for 1995). Moreover, it has extracted a tremendous price from Russian society. The wars which would be required to restore the Russian empire would prove much more costly not just for Russia and the region, but for peace, world stability, and security..... Eurasian oil resources are pivotal to economic development in the early 21st century. The supply of Middle Eastern oil would become precarious if Saudi Arabia became unstable, or if Iran or Iraq provoked another military conflict in the area.... The oil and gas reserves of the Caucasus and Central Asia are vital to Western geostrategic and economic interests in the 21st century..... A major campaign to assert influence in the Russian 'near abroad' would be a setback for U.S. interests. In addition, control of the Caucasus and Central Asia would allow Russia geographical proximity to, and closer cooperation with, the anti-Western regimes in Tehran and Baghdad. Together, an anti-Western Russia, Iran, and Iraq, if they desired, could pursue a common interest in driving up the price of oil...."
The New 'Great Game': Oil Politics in the Caucasus and Central Asia
The Heritage Foundation, 25 January 1996

"A new and potentially explosive Great Game is being set up and few in Britain are aware of it. There are many players: far more than the two - Russia and Britain - who were engaged a century ago in imperial rivalry in central Asia and the north-west frontier. And the object this time is not so much control of territory. It is the large reserves of oil and gas in the Caucasus, notably the Caspian basin. Pipelines are the counters in this new Great Game. There are plans for pipe-lines through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Iran, Bulgaria, Macedonia - and Albania. Traditional rivalries between east and west are complicated by other threats - from Chechen separatists, Kurds, Albanian guerrilla groups, the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and, throughout the region, Islamic groups whose activities are causing deep concern to Moscow, Tehran and Washington alike. 'In addition to instability and conflict in the Caucasus and parts of central Asia, there is a longer-term fear that Russia may rebuild its military capabilities, perhaps under a strongly nationalist regime,' notes Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, in his recent book, Losing Control. Such a fear he adds, 'rarely recognises the significance of a near-endemic Russian perception that Nato expansion and US commercial interests in the Caspian basin are part of a strategic encroachment into Russia's historic sphere of influence'. This is the region both west and east have their eyes on. It is rich in untapped oil and gas while US reserves are running down, China is desperate for more oil, and no one outside the Gulf wants to rely on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Iraq - which have the biggest oil reserves. Oil is the bait as the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran - and Nato - jockey for alliances, power and influence in this highly combustible but, for most people, little-known, region. The EU is now getting in on the act. 'The European Union cannot afford to neglect the southern Caucasus. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan form a strategic corridor linking southern Europe with central Asia,' Chris Patten, the European external relations commissioner, and Anna Lindh, the Swedish foreign minister, told Financial Times readers last month before the first high-level EU visit to the region. 'There is perhaps as much oil under the Caspian sea as under the North sea and a huge amount of gas there and in central Asia - good news for energy-hungry Europe,' they said. Soon after the EU visit, Georgia's president, Eduard Shevardnadze, welcomed European and US support for the 'Great Silk Road idea'. The plan, backed by Washington and American oil companies, including Chevron, is for a pipeline taking Turkmenistan and Kazakh oil to Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, through Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, and through eastern Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Russia is desperate to maintain oil flows through its territory. Iran wants a pipeline running from the Caspian due south. China wants one going due east. There is also a plan, backed by the US, for a pipeline running from the Bulgarian Black sea port of Burgas through Macedonia to the Albanian Adriatic port of Vlore. The idea is for Caspian oil to be shipped to Burgas by tanker from the Black sea ports of Novorossiysk in Russia and Supsa in Georgia.... While the US and Nato - and now the EU - hold out the prospect of untold wealth for the Caucasian states of the former Soviet Union, the west will also have an important economic stake in Albania and Macedonia. The US already seems to take the view that all Serbs are bad and all Albanians good. The implications for Kosovo, a Serbian province with an overwhelming ethnic Albanian population, and for Macedonia, with armed groups from Kosovo stirring up trouble among the ethnic Albanian population, are potentially immense....The fight over pipeline routes involves gas as well as oil. Russia wants to supply gas to Turkey; as does Iran, Russia's ally against the Taliban in Afghanistan and a country Russia is supplying with nuclear know-how. For Britain there is an added factor in this jigsaw puzzle of rivalries and alliances. By 2020, the Ministry of Defence noted in a recent report on the 'future strategic context for defence', the UK could be importing 90% of its gas supplies. 'The main source of supply,' it added, 'will include Russia, Iran, and Algeria.' Iran's gas reserves, say analysts, are second only to Russia's.  'All options are on the table', says the Foreign Office, adding that Britain has no problem from the 'political point of view' with Iran's oil pipeline plan. Watch this space."
The new Great Game - East and west are jockeying for influence in the Caucasus. The prize is oil and gas
Guardian, 5 March 2001

"The latest recipient of Washington's 'regime change' was not some miscreant Muslim state but the the mainly Christian mountain nation of Georgia. Eduard Shevardnadze, the 75-year-old strongman who has ruled post-Soviet Georgia's 5.1 million citizens since 1991, was overthrown by a bloodless coup that appears to have been organized and financed by the Bush administration. Shevardnadze's sin, in Washington's eyes, was being too chummy with Moscow and obstructing a major U.S. oil pipeline, due to open in 2005, from Central Asia, via Georgia, to Turkey. Georgia occupies the heart of the wild, unruly, and strategic Caucasus region, which I call the Mideast North.  In recent months, Shevardnadze had given new drilling and pipeline concessions to Russian firms.....Washington sent high-level emissaries to warn Shevardnadze not to do anything that threatened the proposed oil corridor. When he went ahead with Russian oil deals, Washington denounced the Nov. 2 Georgian elections as rigged, which they were, although it also turns a blind eye to rigged elections in useful allies like oil-rich Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Egypt, Pakistan, etc. Cash and anti-Shevardnadze political operatives from the U.S. poured into Tbilisi to back up the president's American-educated principal rival, Mikhail Saakashvili.... . Washington will shore up its man in Tbilisi, Saakashvili, and may send Special Forces troops under the pretext of the faux war on terrorism. The entire Caucasus is near a boil. The sharply increasing rivalry between the U.S. and Russia for political and economic influence over this vital land bridge between Europe and the oil-rich Caspian Basin promises a lot more intrigue, skullduggery and drama."
Shevy's big mistake: Crossing Uncle Sam
Toronto Sun, 30 November 2003

"Eduard Shevardnadze wants to scrap a contract with US company PA Consulting, which is currently operating in Georgia. The Georgian president made this announcement yesterday at a government assembly. The US company was granted the right to manage the national energy distributing company but, in the president's opinion, the company is not fulfilling its responsibilities. He said electricity is not being supplied to those regions which have paid for it while other regions which have not paid electricity tariffs are receiving electricity.... Experts say it is likely that Georgia will decide to replace its American partner with another company, possibly a Russian one."
Eduard Shevardnadze Aims to Drive US out of Georgian Energy Market
Rosbalt News Agency, 2 October 2003

"The unrest is becoming a showdown between Shevardnadze and Saakashvili, a radical pro-U.S. reformer Washington ... has tried hard to wean the Caucasus away from Moscow's orbit. Under a $300 million trainingprogram, Georgian military officers are being equipped and coached byU.S. instructors in counterterror operations against allegedlyQaeda-linked Chechen separatists. And that military presence may yet increase. At a Nov. 4 conference at the U.S. military's European commandin Stuttgart, top military brass were briefed on the options fordeploying U.S. troops to guard the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline."
Descent Into Chaos - A strategic republic again totters on the brink of civil war
Newsweek, 24 November 2003

"Some Russian commentators have suggested that the change of regime in Georgia was engineered by Washington, in accordance with a blueprint previously tried in Yugoslavia (successfully) and Belarus (unsuccessfully). It is a theory that finds backing among other critics of US foreign policy. The argument goes like this: as corruption and poverty grew in Georgia, and as Mr Shevardnadze's flirting with Russia became warmer, 'regime change' became increasingly desirable. This view is inextricably linked with oil. It is based on the idea that the US commercial interest in a new pipeline from the Caspian to the West means ensuring a friendly and compliant regime in Tbilisi... The politicians in the ascendancy in the new Georgia - opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili and the Acting President Nino Burdzhanadze - are even more pro-western than Mr Shevardnadze. As Georgia establishes a new regime and prepares for fresh elections, the battle for influence over Georgia between Russia and the United States will intensify."
Powers vie for influence in Georgia
BBC Online, 26 November 2003

"Ousted Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze has accused the US of helping to remove him from power........ he suspected the involvement of US ambassador Richard Miles, who was posted to Belgrade before the overthrow of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. The US has denied any involvement. 'In relation to the ambassador, I have serious... suspicions that this situation that happened in Tbilisi is an exact repetition of the events in Yugoslavia,' Mr Shevardnadze said. 'Someone had a plan.' The main opposition leader, Mikhail Saakashvili, has already said that he went to Belgrade earlier this year to study the events there three years ago and wanted to repeat them in Georgia.... "
Shevardnadze says US betrayed him
BBC Online, 27 November 2003

"Russia will fight to bring Georgia back into its fold, while the US will fight to keep it in its corner to safeguard its oil pipeline. Shevardnadze was a US puppet who did not go far enough for the US. Saakashvili is one of the new breed of US-educated leaders that are being hoisted on peoples in this part of the world. Leaders who will commit fully to the corporate-controlled world."
Reader opinion - Georgia: What happens next?
BBC Online 27 November 2003

"On Georgia, where he played a vital mediation role last weekend, [Russian Foreign Minister] Mr Ivanov sharply criticised what he called American 'outside interference', which he said even the former President Shevardnadze had admitted. Mr Ivanov, who flew to Kiev after Mr Shevardnadze's resignation for an emergency meeting of the former Soviet republics making up the Commonwealth of Independent States, voiced CIS concern at what it saw as a dangerous precedent in Georgia. 'We can see that these methods, which the US used, are methods of pressure and attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of our countries.'"
Russia rebukes Blunkett for shielding 'terrorist'
London Times, 29 November 2003

"Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro--Serbian television viewers were cheerfully amused during the Georgian crisis that led to President Eduard Shevardnadze's overthrow. Otpor! was founded in early 2000, and quickly spread from Belgrade to every corner of Serbia. The breaking-news footage from Tbilisi, beamed into their living-room TVs, showed symbols and political iconography they had grown deeply familiar with. The posters of a clenched fist, plastered everywhere, were identical to those used by Serbia's Otpor! (Resistance!) movement in 2000, during the campaign to oust Slobodan Milosevic. Even the slogans on billboards were familiar: 'Gotov je!' ('He's finished'), the Latin-script letters proclaimed--in Serbian. Clearly, young Georgian protesters didn't have time to translate the propaganda material they'd borrowed from their Serbian friends.... And yes: Otpor! militants have confirmed that they were consulted by Georgian opposition--and that they provided advice, material, and help. ... [in Serbia] The European Union, the United States, and many non-governmental organizations provided training in political marketing and resistance tactics, advice--and yes, money too.... The campaign was massive, the expenses high, and the funding was foreign--smuggled across the border and carefully concealed."
A Revolution Brought to You By
TDL, 1 December 2003

"The Bush Administration put huge effort yesterday into preaching two contradictory messages on democracy. On one side, we had Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, in north Africa to champion the cause of democracy and human rights. On the other, we had Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defence, congratulat[ed] the President of Azerbaijan on his landslide October poll victory, which even the State Department has said was tarnished by fraud, and which triggered street riots. [ A] contradiction ... lies at the heart of the Administration's foreign policy: does it always want to promote democracy, when that would produce a government hostile to its interests? ....The reason for the US's interest is no mystery. Azerbaijan's Caspian oilfields are an attraction as the US looks for alternatives to the Gulf. Like the US, it is wary of its neighbours, Russia and Iran. It is also located in an exceptionally useful place. During the Afghan war it gave overflight rights to US warplanes, helping to create an air corridor from Europe to Central Asia.... The elections allowed Ilham Aliyev to succeed his father, Heider Aliyev, longtime leader of the Soviet-era Communist Party, who returned to power in 1993 after a military coup [allegedly backed by British Petroleum according to a report in the Sunday Times, nlpwessex]. Senior opposition figures are among 100 said still to be in jail after post-election riots. So is Ilgar Ibrahimogul, imam of a mosque in the capital, and founder of Azerbaijan's Centre for Religious Freedom, together with Rauf Arifoglu, editor of the biggest-circulation newspaper. The State Department has called for an investigation into intimidation and ballot-rigging. In that light Rumsfeld's remarks amount to a bald statement of the bargain that the US will strike to pursue its strategic interest."
Bush's officers parade policy contradiction
London Times, 5 December 2003

"It is hard to imagine anything duller than oil pipelines - but the unfortunate fact is that oil makes our world go round and that oil is often found in places that are inhospitable and require pipelines to deliver us our daily energy bread. Like the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. The BTC is a $3.6-billion (U.S.) pipeline down one of the routes through which oil from the Caspian Sea can flow from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Ceyhan in Turkey. BTC is the route favoured by the Americans to get an estimated 20 billion barrels of oil to the market. The Americans have been propping up the Shevardnadze regime with good old-fashioned 'military aid,' ignoring the fact that much of that military aid was being siphoned off by Mr. Shevardnadze's cronies. The U.S. got mad when it became clear that the wily old man was playing games. As The Globe's Mark MacKinnon has reported, Georgia's future went pop! when Mr. Shevardnadze signed a secret 25-year deal to 'make the Russian energy giant Gazprom its sole supplier of gas' and then had the nerve to sell the electricity grid to another Russian firm - muscling out AES, the company that the U.S. administration had backed to win the deal. The whole episode stinks of oily geopolitics. Think of a conflict and you can be sure that a pipeline is not far away. Of course, most of us, if we're lucky, won't be directly affected. At worst, we might get despondent that 14 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we're back to the good old days of power games between Russia and the United States."
Ken Wiwa
Globe and Mail, 6 December 2003

"The United States has poured about $1.3 billion (£735 million) in aid into Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The EU and individual EU states have contributed a similar amount, and funds continue to flow in. In the past week alone, the US Embassy announced a package worth $21 million to pay for heating bills, pensions and salaries during the harsh winter that will challenge Mr Saakashvili's fledgeling government from its first days. Washington's interests go far further than propping up the economy, however. A contingent of US special forces is rebuilding Georgia's ramshackle army, while Richard Miles, the US Ambassador, has become a constant presence at negotiations during the political upheaval that followed the ousting of Mr Shevardnadze. The focus on Georgia is explained mainly by the building of a pipeline to carry Caspian Sea oil from neighbouring Azerbaijan through to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan for export to Western clients. The pipeline, which will run through Georgia and bypass Russia, has long been a favourite American idea. Until now, Russia has been able to control most routes for exporting the Caspian's huge energy resources. Although the pipeline, in which BP has a leading stake, is due to be completed only in 2005, it has already transformed Georgia's place in the world. 'For us, it's a matter of survival to have this pipeline,' Mr Saakashvili said."
Georgia turns its face to the West
London Times, 31 December 2003

"Washington's support for Shevardnadze's overthrow certainly had nothing to do with its love of democracy, which was not much in evidence when Azerbaijan, just east of Georgia and another pipeline country, held even more outrageously rigged elections in October. For the Bush administration, the goal is to freeze Russia out of the new oil bonanza in the Caspian and Caucasus countries, all former Soviet fiefdoms, and Shevardnadze's crime was to be too accommodating to the Russians. ... when Shevardnadze signed a deal last year with the Russian gas giant Gazprom, Washington went ballistic. Bush's energy adviser Steven Mann flew in to warn Shevardnadze not to go ahead with the deal, Mikhail Saakashvili denounced it - and Shevardnadze signed it anyway.   So no illusions about America's motives for opposing him - but on the other hand, most Georgians really did want to be rid of Shevardnadze."
The power to dismiss
Dawn, 12 January 2004

"Azerbaijan is rated as one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the region, with more than 40 per cent of its people living below the poverty line. It has been ruled most of the time since its independence from Russia by Heydar Aliyev, a hardline former KGB chief who was succeeded by his son, Ilham, in 2003. But this secular Islamic state on the Caspian Sea is also a key element of the United States’s strategy to contain Iran and secure access to the Caspian’s huge oil and gas reserves. A staunch US ally, Azerbaijan was one of the few Muslim states that sent troops to Iraq. The US has built radar stations near its border with Iran. Western companies have also invested billons of dollars in a building a pipeline to take Caspian oil from Baku, via Georgia and Turkey, to the Mediterranean. President Aliyev says that there is no cause for a revolution because his country is on the crest of an oil boom that will eradicate poverty and unemployment. Ali Hasanov, a senior presidential aide, told The Times: 'Even if the US wanted a revolution here, it would be impossible, because the people do not want it.'.....Over the past few months the Government has repeatedly used riot police to break up opposition rallies in the centre of Baku, injuring dozens of people. It has also broken up youth groups that tried to emulate movements in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. When Rasul Guliyev, an exiled opposition leader, tried to return to Azerbaijan this month after nine years of self-imposed exile in the US, the Government refused to let his plane land and detained hundreds of opposition supporters. Two days later Mr Aliyev sacked a dozen senior officials and had two of them, the economy and health ministers, arrested for allegedly planning to stage a coup with Mr Guliyev. The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe expressed concern. But President Bush sent a letter to Mr Aliyev, welcoming his 'commitment to a free and fair election'. He added: 'I look forward to working with you after these elections.' Under Western pressure, Mr Aliyev issued a decree this month allowing the use of indelible ink to mark voters’ fingers and permitting foreign-funded NGOs to monitor the vote. But critics dismiss that as too little, too late, and opposition supporters are preparing for violent clashes with riot police after the results. Mr Gassanly is likely to be in the thick of them. Earlier this month he was detained for six hours after police broke up a rally. The British Embassy had to intervene to get him released. It is a far cry from his political activity at home, where he worked on Frank Dobson’s attempt to become mayor of London and campaigned for a hospital bus to be reinstated in the constituency of Westminster. But he said that he was driven by fear that Azerbaijan’s people may lose faith in the ideals of democracy and free markets and embrace Islamic extremism. 'The West is making a mistake thinking that short-term stability is more important than long-term democracy,' he said. 'Next time the flags won’t be orange. They’ll be green.'”
West balks at backing revolution as elections loom in oil-rich state
London Times, 4 November 2005

"The conflict erupting in the Caucasus has set alarm bells ringing for many reasons, not least Georgia’s pivotal role in the supply of Central Asian oil to the West. While it has no significant oil or gas reserves of its own, Georgia is a key transit point for oil from the Caspian region destined for Europe and the United States. Crucially, it is the only practical route from this increasingly important producer region that avoids both Russia and Iran. The 1,770-kilometre (1,100mile) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which cost $3 billion (£1.55 billion) to build and was partly underwritten by British taxpayers, entered full service last year. It is the world’s second-longest oil pipeline and pumps about a million barrels a day from Baku, on the coast of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan, to Yumurtalik, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, where it is loaded on to supertankers. The route also avoids the congested Bosphorus shipping lane. About 250 kilometres of the route passes through Georgia, with parts of it running only 55 kilometres from South Ossetia. It also runs close to another secessionist Georgian region, Abkhazia.....The security of the BTC pipeline has been a concern since well before it was built. The first big attack on the pipeline took place last week in Turkey, where part of it was destroyed by Kurdish separatists. Output from the pipeline, which carries more than 1 per cent of the global supply, has been cut and is likely to be on hold for several weeks while a fire is extinguished and the damage repaired. The threat of another attack by separatists in Georgia is very real. Georgian rebels in the breakaway regions have threatened to sabotage the pipeline in the past. The BTC pipeline, which is 30 per cent owned by BP, is buried throughout its length to make attacks more difficult.  It was first conceived in the 1990s as a way of cutting the West’s dependence on energy supplies from the Middle East and Russia, and was always a politically charged project. Russia, which views the Caucasus as its own sphere of influence, wants Central Asian oil to be exported through its own territory and always opposed the pipeline’s construction. BP said it was confident that the BTC pipeline was secure and was not under threat from the current fighting in South Ossetia. It said that the fire in Turkey meant that current supplies of oil were being diverted through other pipelines and by rail to ports on Georgia’s Black Sea coast."
Russia/Georgia conflict sounds alarm bells at threat to vital link in the energy chain
London Times, 9 August 2008

"The far away country ends up sending in its army to ensure that only the state can operate armed groups, and to restore what are without question its legally recognised borders. But a great power decides that the force used by the far away country is unacceptable. It begins to bomb the country, not just in the breakaway region but in its capital and other major urban areas. The great power forces the far away country out of part of its own territory, allowing the separatists a victory they could not have otherwise achieved. This could be a description of the last week's fighting in Georgia but it is also what happened in 1999 in Serbia. The KLA attempted to wrest Kosovo from Serbia and Serbia sent in the army. Without bothering with a UN resolution Nato bombed them out and advanced through Kovoso up to what is now called 'Serbia proper'. At the time Russia complained bitterly that a sovereign nation's borders were being violated by the 'international community' or by what the Serbs called the 'Nato fascist aggressor'. Moscow called on the Nato powers to halt the bombing which killed several thousand Serb civilians and which targeted among other things a television station. Without doubt the Serb forces were committing atrocities but Nato descended into farcical claims of 100,000 Kosovan men being killed and of football stadiums full of prisoners. It was rubbish. This spring the US and most of the EU nations recognised Kosovan independence and thus legitimised the changing of a sovereign state's borders through violence - their own. This is not to defend Russia's actions in Georgia but it does show how the Americans, British and others want things both ways - and it also shows how the recognition of Kosovo has destroyed the hallowed concept that you don't change borders through force. The Russians noticed that the West was prepared to conveniently forget the basic tenet of the Treaty of Westphalia 1648."
Russia Eats The Kosovo Cake
Sky News, 12 August 2008

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How Britain has been supporting brutal dictatorship in Azerbaijan since the end of the Soviet Union  in order to gain access to its oil deposits - click here

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A Caucasian Republic
On An Oil Transit Corridor
Between The Caspian And Black Seas
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Energy Wars
Not for the people in the Middle East, the Caucasus or the Balkans
Not for freedom and democracy

NLPWESSEX, natural law publishing