Tag Archives: Azerbaijan

All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration, by Pepe Escobar

Step by step Russian and China are leading the Eurasian countries towards cooperation and consolidation, whether the US likes it or not. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

The five states surrounding the sea – Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan – have reached difficult compromises on sovereign and exclusive rights as well as freedom of navigation

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev walk along a  Caspian Sea embankment while participating in the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev walk along a Caspian Sea embankment while participating in the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi
The long-awaited deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea signed on Sunday in the Kazakh port of Aktau is a defining moment in the ongoing, massive drive towards Eurasia integration.

Up to the early 19th century, the quintessentially Eurasian body of water – a connectivity corridor between Asia and Europe over a wealth of oil and gas – was exclusive Persian property. Imperial Russia then took over the northern margin. After the break up of the USSR, the Caspian ended up being shared by five states; Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

The long-awaited deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea signed on Sunday in the Kazakh port of Aktau is a defining moment in the ongoing, massive drive towards Eurasia integration.

Up to the early 19th century, the quintessentially Eurasian body of water – a connectivity corridor between Asia and Europe over a wealth of oil and gas – was exclusive Persian property. Imperial Russia then took over the northern margin. After the break up of the USSR, the Caspian ended up being shared by five states; Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

CaspianSeaAI

Very complex negotiations went on for almost two decades. Was the Caspian a sea or a lake? Should it be divided between the five states into separate, sovereign tracts or developed as a sort of condominium?

Slowly but surely, the five states reached difficult compromises on sovereign and exclusive rights; freedom of navigation; “freedom of access of all the vessels from the Caspian Sea to the world’s oceans and back” – in the words of a Kazakh diplomat; pipeline installation; and crucially, on a military level, the certitude that only armed forces from the five littoral states should be allowed in Caspian waters.

No wonder then that President Putin, in Aktau, described the deal in no uncertain terms as having “epoch-making significance.”

To continue reading: All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration

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Nagorno-Karabakh: The April Fool’s War, by Justin Raimondo

From Justin Raimondo at antwar.com:

Last Thursday US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Azerbaijan’s dictator Ilham Aliyev in Washington and called for “an ultimate resolution” of the decades-old conflict in the disputed province of Nagorno-Karabakh. On Friday, as the hereditary Azeri despot was on the plane back to Baku, Azeri troops were already launching an offensive against the breakaway Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. One of the first casualties was a 12-year-old Armenian boy.

Naturally, the Azeris claim they were attacked first, but this seems unlikely. The front lines in the simmering conflict have been pretty stable since the conclusion of the post-Soviet war between Armenia and Azerbbaijan, which ended in victory for the former and de facto independence for the primarily Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Already in possession of the disputed territory, the Nagorno-Karabakhians had nothing to gain by restarting the fighting — and it seems more than coincidental that fresh hostilities commenced immediately upon Kerry’s rather absurd pronouncement.

Absurd because the “crisis’ has already been resolved – today Nagorno-Karabakh is an independent state, in spite of the refusal of the United States to recognize it, and it has enjoyed this status since 1994, when the last Azeri troops were driven from the territory. That the Secretary of State would choose to intervene at this point seems, at best, highly suspicious. Did Kerry give the green light to the Azeris?

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. After all, the US has consistently stood with the Azeris no matter which party is in the Oval Office. Washington’s reasons are two-fold: geopolitics and money, not necessarily in that order.

The geopolitical factor involves the US policy of encircling Russia. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington has sought to extend its sphere of influence deep into the territory of the former USSR by courting the Oriential despots, like the Aliyev clan, who rule over these former communist “republics.” Which brings us to the second, albeit no less influential factor: money. The central Asian states like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc. are a rich source of Caspian Sea oil, where huge deposits have been discovered. The problem is how to transport the oil to European and US markets – without pumping it through Russian pipelines.

The solution: the BTC (Baku to Ceyhan, Turkey) pipeline. In 1994, Ilham Alivey’s father, Heydar, announced what he called “the Contract of the Century” in a speech to the Harriman Institute in New York City. His government had just signed an agreement with a consortium of oil companies and investment bankers, giving the biggest oil companies in the world – Amoco, Pennzoil, British Petroleum, Unocal, McDermott, Statoil, Lukoil, and the state-owned oil companies of Turkey and the Saudi Kingdom – exclusive rights to Azerbaijan’s oil and gas reserves. A few years later, Aliyev senior was at the White House with Vice President Al Gore presiding over a ceremony announcing a contract with Chevron, Exxon/Mobil and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR).

To continue reading: Nagorno-Karabakh: The April Fool’s War