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September 2004
www.globalresearch.ca September 2004

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According to a  letter published on a Chechen website (September 15, 2004), the leader of the main Chechen rebel movement Shamil Basayev has claimed responsibility for the Beslen school siege in Northern Ossetia. While formally acknowledging his role, Basayev blames Russian Forces for triggering the massacre which led to the death of at least 320 hostages, many of them children. (The authenticity of the letter remains to be established.)

The Beslen tragedy has all the finger prints of a carefully led intelligence operation. There is ample evidence that the Chechen rebels are supported by Us intelligence. The Kremlin has accused the pro-US government of Georgia of allowing the Chechen rebels to establish a guerrilla base inside its territory in the Pankisi Gorge area . US special forces are stationed in Georgia, which has military cooperation agreements both with Washington and NATO under GUUAM.  According to the Independent, the Chechen rebels are supplied out of Azerbaijan, which also lies in the orbit of the Anglo-American axis.

The hostage crisis has served to weaken the standing of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at home an abroad, while at the same time reinforcing the legitimacy of the US led "war on terrorism". More significantly, it contributes to the weakening and fracture the Russian Federation. It has also thwarted the political reintegration of Chechnya into the Russian Federation, which was initiated in the wake of 1999-2000 war. 

President Vladimir Putin confirmed that Moscow was "seriously preparing" for pre-emptive strikes against the Chechen rebels. If this action were to be taken, this could engulf Russia not only in another Chechen war but also in a broader war in the Caucuses, which could extend into Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

What interests are served by the Beslen tragedy?

What has been the broader role of the Chechen rebel movement in an area which lies at the strategic crossroads of one of the World's largest oil producing regions. 

Since the early 1990s, coinciding with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Shamil Basayev's rebel movement developed to Pakistan's military intelligence, the ISI. The Chechen rebels have been generously funded by Islamic charities out of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

The broader issue: what is role of  the Chechen rebel group led by Shamil Basayev in the region's unstable geopolitics. Chechnya and Dagestan are at the crossroads of  strategic oil pipeline routes out of the Caspian sea basin. The 1995 and 1999 wars in Chechnya largely served the interests of the Anglo-American oil companies in their quest to take control of the region and oust competing Russian oil conglomerates. There are also indications that US intelligence has been actively involved in the region.

A year before the outbreak of the 1995 war, Basayev was sent to Afghanistan and Pakistan together with his trusted lieutenants for  training and indoctrination under the auspices of Pakistan's Interservice Intelligence (ISI).

[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for Basayev and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officers: Minister of Defense General Aftab Shahban Mirani, Minister of Interior General Naserullah Babar, and the head of the ISI branch in charge of supporting Islamic causes, General Javed Ashraf, (all now retired). High-level connections soon proved very useful to Basayev. (Levon Sevunts, The Gazette,Who's calling the shots?: Chechen conflict finds Islamic roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 23 The Gazette, Montreal, 26 October 1999)

Amply documented, the ISI has acted in close consultation with its US counterpart the CIA. The various training camps used to teach guerilla tactics to the Chechen rebel leaders had first been established under CIA-ISI auspices during the Afghan-Soviet war. In other words, these facilities remained in operation in the wake of the Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989.

Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev returned from Pakistan in 1995 and was assigned to lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the first Chechen war.

Basayev's organisation had  also been involved in a number of rackets including narcotics, illegal tapping and sabotage of Russia's oil pipelines, kidnapping, prostitution, trade in counterfeit dollars and the smuggling of nuclear materials. (The European, 13 February 1997, See also Itar-Tass, 4-5 January 2000. Alongside the extensive laundering of drug money, the proceeds of various illicit activities have been funneled towards the recruitment of mercenaries and the purchase of weapons.  Basayev also claimed responsibility for the November 2002 Moscow theater attack.

His organization had also developed extensive links to criminal syndicates in Moscow as well as ties to Albanian organized crime and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which was supported both by NATO and the US military.

In 1997-98, according to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) "Chechen warlords started buying up real estate in Kosovo... through several real estate firms registered as a cover in Yugoslavia" (Vitaly Romanov and Viktor Yadukha, Chechen Front Moves To Kosovo Segodnia, Moscow, 23 Feb 2000).

During his training in Afghanistan, Shamil Basayev linked up with Saudi born veteran Mujahideen Commander "Al Khattab" who had fought as a volunteer in Afghanistan. Barely a few months after Basayev's return to Grozny, Khattab was invited (early 1995) to set up an army base in Chechnya for the training of Mujahideen fighters. According to the BBC, Khattab's posting to Chechnya had been "arranged through the Saudi-Arabian based [International] Islamic Relief Organisation, a militant religious organisation, funded by mosques and rich individuals which channeled funds into Chechnya".(BBC, 29 September 1999)

Undeclared War between Russia and America

Starting in 1995, an undeclared war between Russia and America had taken shape. Islamic rebels are fighting a Jihad on behalf of Washington. The 1995 and 1999-2000 wars were patterned on that of the Soviet-Afghan war. no GIs or Green Berets, no apparent display of American military might. In Afghanistan, the war broke out in 1979 following the launching of the CIA's covert support to the Islamic fighters.

Russia’s main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and Dagestan. More recently, Russia has announced a new pipeline route solely through Dagestan. Despite Washington’s "war on terrorism" ,  the indirect beneficiaries of the Chechen wars haqve been the Anglo-American oil conglomerates. More generally throughout the former Soviet Union, the Islamic jihad has served to destabilize State institutions and disrupt economic activity.

The two main Chechen rebel armies (respectively led by Commander Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab) estimated at 35,000 strong (at the outset of the second Chechen war which was launcehd in September 1999. The Chechen rebel armies were generously financed by the same organizations which pumped money in support of  "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan (1979-89) , Bosnia (1991-1995), Kosovo (since 1995)  and Macedonia (since 1999).  The "Afghan pattern" has been replicated in Chechnya. Pakistan’s ISI (which has links to the CIA) played a key role in organizing and training the Chechen rebel army.

At the height of the first Chechen war, Basayev had threatened to use "radiological weapons" containing "radioactive cesium 137" in Moscow. His organisation has also been involved in a number of rackets including narcotics, illegal tapping of Russia’s oil pipelines, kidnapping, prostitution, trade in counterfeit dollars and the smuggling of nuclear materials (See Mafia linked to Albania's collapsed pyramids, The European, 13 February 1997, See also Itar-Tass, 4-5 January 2000). Alongside the extensive laundering of drug money, the proceeds of various illicit activities have been funneled towards the recruitment of mercenaries and the purchase of weapons.

Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989, the covert operations of Pakistan's military Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) were redirected towards the Muslim republics of the USSR.

The Role of Pakistan's ISI in Chechnya

The evidence suggests that the involvement of Pakistan's ISI "goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war". (Levun Sevunts, op cit). According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congress's Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the war in Chechnya had been planned during a secret summit of HizbAllah International held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Ibid) The summit, was attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Iranian and Pakistani intelligence officers. (Ibid).

Meanwhile, a network for the recruitment of mercenaries to fight in Chechnya had developed in the Middle East:

"The volunteers are mainly recruited in Lebanon, but also in Syria and in parts of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Money for the recruits is being raised in certain mosques considered as bastions of Sunni fundamentalism, such as the Tarik Al Jadida mosque in Beirut, Al Qobbeh in Tripoli and Al Qods in Saida". (Intelligence Newsletter no 34, 20 January 2000, http://www.intelligenceonline.com/)

Various Islamic organizations have sent volunteers to fight in Chechnya. According to Russian military sources, "citizens from African Arab and Southeast Asian countries have been used by chieftains as rank-and-file mercenaries, while terrorists from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan [were] ranked as "officers" and acted as commanders or instructors" (Russia: Examination of Chechen rebels' papers identifies foreign mercenaries, ITAR-TASS News Agency, Moscow, 23 February 2000).

Volunteers have also been dispatched from Britain recruited by Islamic organizations in the United Kingdom. (Russian TV investigates alleged UK mercenary recruitment for Chechnya , Russian Public TV, Moscow, in Russian 1800 gmt 10 Nov 1999). 

In the post Cold War era, Osama bin Laden's network (set up by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war) was applied to financing the flow of arms and mercenaries in support of the Chechen rebel movement, the Bosnian Muslim Army  and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Osama bin Laden's network is said to have developed close links to the Chechen Wahhabi rebel armies. "the CIA has intelligence that Bin Laden operatives have been in Chechnya training Muslim fighters in guerrilla tactics. And the mixture of chemicals that Russian investigators found in some of the blasts matches the brew mixed by bombers-in-training at his camp in Afghanistan". (Douglas Waller, Time Magazine, 6 December 1999)

The Nature of Covert Operations During the Soviet-Afghan war, CIA covert support was channeled indirectly using the Pakistani ISI. In the words of CIA's Milton Beardman "We didn't train Arabs". (Ibid). Yet according to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-aram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the "Afghan Arabs" had nonetheless been imparted "with very sophisticated types of training that was allowed to them by the CIA [during the Soviet-Afghan war]"(Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August 1998). CIA's Beardman confirmed in this regard that bin Laden was not aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): "neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help". (Ibid). In other words, for these covert operations to be "successful", Washington's hidden foreign policy objectives must not be revealed to those fighting the Jihad. Islamic rebel leaders in the field do not communicate directly with Washington or the CIA nor must they be made aware that they are fighting the jihad on Washington's behalf. Pakistan's ISI was used as a "go-between" the rebel leaders and the CIA. Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware of the underlying geopolitical interests. In other words, since the Soviet-Afghan war, the radical Islamic movements have developed their own political ambitions operating quite independently of the CIA. With the exception of a handful of key individuals, the rebels fighting the Jihad (and the civilian population caught in the cross-fire) are invariably unaware of their insidious role on the geopolitical chessboard. Bin Laden's "anti- American jihad", nonetheless, serves US geopolitical and strategic interests in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union. These covert operations are also sustained by appropriate political and social manipulations. Pro-Western "civil society movements" and political parties are also financed, non-governmental organizations are sent into Dagestan and Chechnya, nationalist and secessionist aspirations are promoted. Alongside the process of economic dislocation which accompanies the imposition of free market reforms, Washington's hidden agenda is to trigger political instability.

Combating International Terrorism: Washington's Post Cold War Rhetoric Meanwhile, Bin Laden is on the FBI's "most wanted list" as the World's foremost terrorist. And Islamic terrorism is now featured by the media as "a threat to America" when in fact it is an outright creation of US foreign policy. In other words, Washington's new post-cold war doctrine provides a rationale for combating terrorists even when the main terrorist organizations are "on our side". Moreover, the war against drugs and international terrorism is now put forth as a justification for developing America's internal security apparatus as well as increasing the flow of American military aid to US client governments. While the Mujahideen are busy fighting America's war in the Caucasus and Central Asia, the FBI --operating as a US based Police Force- is waging a domestic war against terrorism. In turn, radical Islam is casually presented on TV screens across the globe as "a threat to Western civilization". In other words, the FBI (motivated by an entirely different set of assumptions) seems to be operating quite independently of the CIA which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- supported international terrorism through its covert operations. Moreover, the mandate of both the FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) consists in combating the drug trade despite the fact that the proceeds of narcotics have been used under CIA auspices to finance pro-US rebel movements. In the nature of a well led intelligence operation, neither the rebel armies in theater nor the Congress, the Justice Department, the DEA nor the FBI must be made aware of the concrete nature of these covert undertakings. The true face of the US system of government is revealed when the nature of these covert undertakings are leaked to public opinion as occurred in the Iran-Contragate affair, the crack cocaine scandal and the CIA-Mujahideen operation in Afghanistan. The shady undertakings of America's military and intelligence community are an integral part of Washington's foreign policy agenda, yet when they are disclosed and revealed to public opinion, they also unveil the true face of the American economic and political system with its pervasive links to terrorism, narcotics and the international trade in weapons.

Dismantling Secular Institutions in the former Soviet Union The enforcement of Islamic law in the largely secular Muslim societies of the former Soviet Union has served America's strategic interests in the region. A strong secular tradition based on a rejection of Islamic law prevailed throughout the Central Asian republics and the Caucasus including Chechnya and Dagestan (which are part of the Russian Federation). In Chechnya, the 1994-1996 war with Russia served to undermine secular State institutions. A parallel system of local government controlled by the Islamic militia was implanted in many localities. In some of the small towns and villages, Islamic Sharia courts were established under a reign of political terror. In turn, financial aid from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States funneled to the two main radical Islamic groups was conditional upon the installation of the Sharia courts despite strong opposition of the civilian population.("The Principal Judge and Ameer" of the Sharia courts in Chechnya is Sheikh Abu Umar.. who "came to Chechnya in 1995 and joined the ranks of the Mujahideen there under the leadership of Ibn-ul-Khattab"... He set about teaching Islam with the correct Aqeedah to the Chechen Mujahideen, many of whom held incorrect and distorted beliefs about Islam."See Latest Authentic News Report from Chechnya Assalamu-alaikum MSANews, 24 November 1997). Meanwhile, Chechnya State institutions were crumbling under the brunt of the IMF sponsored austerity measures imposed on Grozny by the Kremlin under the Presidency of Boris Yeltsin. In contrast, the Sharia courts financed and equipped from Saudi Arabia were gradually displacing secular State institutions. A de facto parallel government had been installed. Meanwhile, the two main militant Islamist rebel groups had sought the demise of the moderate civilian administration of President Aslan Maskhadov who had negotiated a freeze on Chechen independence until 2001 in an agreement signed with Russian General Alexander Lebed in 1996: Some powerful warlords [Khattab and Basayev] linked with kidnaping gangs are working against Maskhadov's attempts to forge new links for Chechnya's economy. They're hoping to cut their own deals and spread their influence across the Caucasus, possibly in a Muslim alliance...The attempted murder of the Chechen mufti [1998] follows a recent killing of a moderate Muslim leader in Dagestan, where the extreme Wahhabite sect, which originated in Saudi Arabia, is trying to gain a foothold. The militant group was driven out of Chechnya during a gun battle that killed more than a dozen people. As a token of Russia's slightly improved relations with Chechnya, Moscow has donated some weapons to help fight the kidnaping wave. But the virtually bankrupt Chechen [Maskhadov] government can't match the expensive equipment bought by the kidnappers and their bosses" ...(Olivia Ward Kidnappers thrive in a no-man's land Toronto Star, 27 October 1998)

The Wahhabi movement was not only attempting to over-run civilian State institutions in Dagestan and Chechnya, it was also seeking to displace the traditional Sufi Muslim leaders. In fact the resistance to the Islamic rebels in Dagestan was based on the alliance of the (secular) local governments with the Sufi sheiks:

"These [Wahhabi] groups consist of a very tiny but well-financed and well-armed minority. They propose with these attacks the creation of terror in the hearts of the masses... By creating anarchy and lawlessness, these groups can enforce their own harsh, intolerant brand of Islam... Such groups do not represent the common view of Islam, held by the vast majority of Muslims and Islamic scholars, for whom Islam exemplifies the paragon of civilization and perfected morality. They represent what is nothing less than a movement to anarchy, under an Islamic label... Their intention is not so much to create an Islamic state, but to create a state of confusion in which they are able to thrive (Mateen Siddiqui, Differentiating Islam from Militant "Islamists", The Muslim Magazine CHECK DATE)

in 1998, Shamil Basayev was appointed acting Prime Minister by President Maskhadov, a position which he held for barely six months. In early 1999, the Maskhadov government --threatened by the two main Wahhabi rebel factions (respectively led by General Shamil Basayev and Commander Khattab)-- accepted to institute the Sharia law throughout Chechnya removing the powers of the secular parliament. The decision --tantamount to a coup d'état- removed Parliament's legislative powers and ordered the re-writing of the secular Constitution.

Political power had been transferred from the civilian secular state to the Sharia courts. The ultimate intent was to destabilize the Maskhadov government, break a fragile peace with Moscow and establish a reign of political terror. A few months later in August 1999, the rebel army led by General Shamil Basayev invaded neighboring Dagestan.The operation was not supported by President Maskhadov. The events in Dagestan were followed by a wave of terrorist bomb attacks launched in several Moscow apartment buildings leading to the death of more than 300 people. Commander Khattab confirmed responsibility for the bombings.CHECK.

Russian federal troops intervened in September 1999 in the form of an outright military assault on Grozny involving heavy civilian casualties and physical destruction. In January 2000, Moscow accused the US of supporting the Wahhabi rebels following talks in Washington between the US State Department and Ilyas Akhmadov, the self-styled foreign minister of the separatist government of Chechnya. In the words of the Russian foreign minister: "I think there is no need to remind you that terrorism in Chechnya is directly linked to bin Laden, who is considered by the United States as terrorist number one," (Russia Slams Us Over Chechen Meeting, United Press International, 15 January 2000).

In early 2000, Russian troops took control of Grozny. The two main rebel factions retreated in disarray to the mountains. According to Russian sources, three Chechen governments in exile were being formed of which one was headed by Movladi Udugov supported by Osama bin Laden and based in Kabul.

"According to Russian secret services, Udugov has already cleared this with the Taliban, and has been given a sector of the Asian drug market to replenish his "governmental resources". (Igor Galichin, Maskhadov Is Not Needed as a Captive, Segodnya, Moscow, December 30, 1999, p. 1 - 2 ).

The various rebel groups funded by the drug trade will no doubt reorganize. The training camps in Afghanistan supported by Pakistan's ISI will continue to function and supply mercenaries to the various insurgent armies.

The war in Chechnya, nonetheless marks an important turning point. Following the military defeat of the Chechen rebels, the tendency is towards the militarization of the entire Caspian-Central Asian region including the setting up of NATO military bases in the GUUAM countries. Already Azerbaijan has invited the US and Turkey to station troops on its territory and NATO has a close military cooperation ties with Georgia.

The GUUAM alliance represents a significant regional military power. The Ukraine has a sizeable nuclear arsenal and occupies a central role in GUUAM. In other words, GUUAM --which in many regards is an extension of NATO-- constitutes a significant nuclear power which is being supported by the western military alliance.

In turn, Pakistan's extensive military and intelligence apparatus is not only firmly linked to the pursuit of Washington's interests in the region, Pakistan also has nuclear capabilities. There is a risk of a conventional war between GUUAM and Russian forces without direct Western involvement. Moreover, a regional nuclear conflagration which would not directly involve the Western military alliance can certainly not be ruled out.

Meanwhile, the broader geopolitical causes and ramifications of the War have not been revealed neither in Russia nor in the West. The implications are far-reaching because this is a war of economic conquest involving the confrontation of competing capitalist conglomerates. Russia's extensive military and intelligence apparatus is backing the interests of Russia's capitalist elites which are vying to maintain their control over the resources and wealth of the former Soviet Union. In this process, they are clashing with Anglo-American and European business conglomerates. Meanwhile, the application of free market reforms in most of the former Soviet Union has contributed to destabilizing political institutions, impoverishing the population as well as heightening the risks of war. Concurrently, the Russian State system is heavily fractured, mass corruption has permeated the State apparatus which has become the instrument of competing economic and financial interests. Within the Russian State, the "pro-Western" faction under the Yeltsin presidency was largely instrumental in the IMF sponsored reforms applied since early 1992.

 

 

Chechnya at the Crossroads of Strategic Pipelines

Russia=s Soviet era pipeline linked the Azeri port of Baku on the Southern tip of the Caspian Sea, via Grozny, to Tikhoretsk. This pipeline route, controlled by the Russian State, terminates at Novorossiysk, and Chechnya is located at the strategic crossroads of this strategic pipeline route.

During the Soviet era, Novorossiysk was the terminal for both the Kazakh and Azeri pipelines. Since the end of the Cold War and the opening up of the Caspian oil fields to foreign capital, Washington has incorporated the Ukraine and Georgia into its sphere of influence. Their membership in the GUUAM military alliance is crucial to Western pipeline plans which are intent upon bypassing the Novorossiysk terminal, as well as shunting Moscow=s influence over the pipelines crossing its own territory.

In the immediate wake of the Cold War, Washington has encouraged the secession of Chechnya from the Russian Federation by providing covert support to the two main rebel factions. As discussed in Chapter II, the Islamic insurgencies in Chechnya were supported by Osama bin Laden=s Al Qaeda and Pakistan=s Military Intelligence (ISI).

In 1994, Moscow went to war in order to protect its strategic pipeline route threatened by Chechen rebels. And in August 1999, the pipeline was temporarily put out of order when the Chechen rebel army invaded Dagestan triggering the Kremlin=s decision to send federal troops into Chechnya.

The evidence suggests that the CIA was behind the Chechen rebels, using Pakistan=s ISI as a go-between. Washington=s Ahidden agenda@ consisted in weakening the control of the Russian oil companies and the Russian State over the pipeline routes through Chechnya and Dagestan. Ultimately, Washington=s objective is to separate Dagestan and Chechnya from the Russian Federation, thereby bringing a large part of the territory between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea under the >protection= of the Western military alliance.

Under this scenario, Russia would be excluded from the Caspian Sea. All the existing, as well as future, pipeline routes and transport corridors between the Caspian and Black Seas would be in the hands of the Anglo-American oil giants. In other words, the covert operations led by Pakistan=s ISI in support of the Chechen rebels once again serve the interests of the Anglo-American oil giants.

The BP-Amoco Consortium

Shouldered by BP-Amoco, a U.S. client government had been installed in Azerbaijan. President Aliyev had established himself by distributing power to various members of his family. In Azerbaijan, a modest $8 billion investment is estimated to yield profits of more than $40 billion to Western oil companies.18 BP-Amoco was particularly anxious to shunt competing bids from Russia=s Lukoil. The Anglo-American consortium led by BP-Amoco also includes Unocal , McDermott and Pennzoil, together with Turkey=s TPAO. Unocal was also the main player in the pipeline project across Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea.

The BP-Amoco consortium owns 60 per cent of the shares in the Azerbaijani International Operating Corporation (AIOC). In 1997, in a separate venture, Vice President Al Gore was instrumental in the signing of a major oil deal with the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) allowing Chevron (now allied with Texaco) to acquire control over vast oil reserves in the southern Caspian Sea.19 Chevron is also involved in the Northern Caspian region of Kazakhstan through its joint venture Tengizchevroil. In other words, prior to the 2000 Presidential elections, both George W. Bush and Al Gore, the two opposing candidates, had already made commitments to competing oil conglomerates in the Caspian Sea basin.

Europe versus Anglo-America: The Clash of Competing Oil Interests

The Anglo-American oil giants, supported by U.S. military might are directly competing with Europe=s oil giant Total-Fina-Elf C associated with Italy=s ENI, which is a big player in Kazakhstan=s wealthy North East Caspian Kashagan oil fields. The stakes are high: Kashagan is reported to have deposits Aso large as to even surpass the size of the North Sea oil reserves.@ 20

The competing EU-based consortium, however, lacks a significant stake and leverage in the main pipeline routes out of the Caspian Sea basin and back (via the Black Sea and through the Balkans) to Western Europe. The key pipeline corridor projects are largely in the hands of their Anglo-American rivals.

The Franco-Belgian consortium Total-Fina-Elf, in partnership with Italy=s ENI, also has sizeable investments in Iran. Total had established, together with Russia=s Gazprom and Malaysia=s Petronas, a joint venture with the National Iranian Oil company (NIOC). Predictably, Washington has, on several occasions, attempted to break France=s deal with Tehran on the grounds that it openly contravened the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

What this suggests is that Europe=s largest oil conglomerate, dominated by French and Italian oil interests in association with their Iranian and Russian partners, are potentially on a collision course with the dominant Anglo-American oil consortia, which in turn are backed by Washington.

Russia=s Oil Transnationals

Russia=s major oil groups, while establishing strong ties to the Franco-Italian consortium, have, nonetheless, also entered into joint ventures with the Anglo-American groups.

While Russia=s oil companies are supported by the Russian State and Military against Western encroachment, several of Russia=s major oil giants (including Lukoil and the State-owned company Rosneft) are participating in the Anglo-American pipeline projects as junior partners.

The Anglo-American oil companies are intent upon eventually taking over the Russian oil companies and excluding Russia from the Caspian Sea basin. At the same time, the Anglo-American groups are clashing with the Franco-Italian consortium, which in turn has ties to Russian and Iranian oil interests.

The militarization of the Eurasian corridor is an integral part of Washington=s foreign policy agenda. In this regard, America=s quest to control the Eurasian pipeline corridors on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants is not only directed against Russia, it is also intended to weaken competing European oil interests in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia.

Notes

1. George Arney, U.S. Aplanned attack on Taliban@, BBC, 18 September 2001

2. Financial Times, London, 6 May 1999, p. 2

3. Ibid.

4. U.S. Congress, Hearing On U.S. Interests In The Central Asian Republics, House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Committee on International Relations, Washington, DC, http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/intlrel/hfa48119.000/hfa48119_0f.htm, Washington DC, 12 February 1998

5. Ibid.

6. U.S. Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act, 106th Congress, 1st Session, S. 579, ATo amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to target assistance to support the economic and political independence of the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia@, U.S. Senate, Washington DC , March 10, 1999

7. Ibid.

8. Lara Marlowe, U.S. efforts to make peace summed up by >oil= Irish Times, 19 November 2001

9. Lt.-Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Ret, AU.S. Policy Toward Central Asia and the South Caucasus@, Caspian Crossroads Magazine, Volume 3, Issue No.1, Summer 1997

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Robert V. Baryiski, The Caspian Oil Regime: Military Dimensions, Caspian Crossroads Magazine, Volume 1, Issue No. 2, Spring 1995

13. Graham Fuller, Geopolitical Dynamics of the Caspian Region, Caspian Crossroads Magazine, Volume 3, Issue No.2, Fall 1997

14. Lt.-Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Ret, AU.S. policy toward Central Asia and the South Caucasus@, Caspian Crossroads Magazine, Volume 3, Issue No.1, Summer 1997

15. The United States of Oil, Damien Caveli, Salon.com, 19 November 2001

16. The Great Game. Aliyev.com at http://www.aliyev.com/aliyev/fact_07.htm, 9 January 2000

17. Bohdan Klid, Ukraine=s Plans to Transport Caspian Sea and Middle East Oil to Europe, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, undated. See also Energy Information Administration at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/russpip.html.

18. See Richard Hottelet, ATangled Web of an Oil Pipeline@ The Christian Science Monitor, 1 May 1998.

19. PR News Wire, 1 August 1997.

20. Richard Giragosian, AMassive Kashagan Oil Strike Renews Geopolitical Offensive In Caspian@, The Analyst, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, 7 June, 2000

 

 


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