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It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
01-21-2010, 11:42 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-21-2010, 11:46 AM by NickHedge.)
It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
Yes, I'm afraid it's true. That awful Anderson Cooper (Vanderbilt) of CNN has made it official. 20,000 Haitians a day are dying. Even the Doctors and Nurses are giving away their food to the Haitians to help them. That's just terrible. Dreadful. Such a heart wrenching story. I hope Mr Vanderbilt gets the award for that story.

Let's take a minute here because I am having flashbacks of the 1962 movie "Manchurian Candidate".

"They" say that there are approximately 4 million people in Port Au Prince. Okay, lets say that then. Now keep in mind that we have already been told that 70,000 have been buried in a mass grave. So now we are dealing with approximately 3.93 million people.

Divide 20,000 into 4 million? Hmmm, I may have to take off my shoes for this. (I am sure that "they" think that if they use a big enough number the masses won't be able to comprehend the math).

The people have been dying for 8 days now.

20,000 x 5 = 100,000
100,000 x 10 = 1,000,000

Every 5 days 100,000 people are dying. Do the math. It won't take that long to get rid of all of them. Every 50 days 1,000,000 people die.

Now it was said by "they" right from the very beginning that the island would be under "strict security" until March 13th of this year. How did they get to that date? If you do the math then that would calculate out to about everyone being wiped out by the end of May approximately. Unless they speed things up (which I anticipate them to do....hence the extra troops being called in). But "they" have a target date of March 13th.

Like I said it reminds me of the Manchurian Candidate. Pick a number, any number...just make it something easy to remember.
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats. H. L. Mencken

01-21-2010, 09:29 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-21-2010, 09:50 PM by h3rm35.)
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
good reasoning - thanks for doing that mathematical heavy lifting. I fully expect there are plans for Haiti after this is over, but rather than a concentration/incarceration camp for Americans, I kind of expect it to be a staging area to squashing the rising leftist anti-american tide that's growing in Latin America with the blessing and aid of Russians and Chinese, who are both pretty pissed off about our meddling with their pipeline plans in the middle east:

Quote:Pipeline-Istan: Everything You Need to Know About Oil, Gas, Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Obama
By Pepe Escobar,
Posted on May 13, 2009, Printed on January 21, 2010

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?

Copyright 2009 Pepe Escobar

© 2010 All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

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[Image: conspiracy_theory.jpg]
01-21-2010, 10:21 PM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
Good read, excellent bigger picture vision by the author. To extend it even more we could include the entire global war for resources (minerals, water etc..) but that would constitute a book.
There are no others, there is only us.
01-21-2010, 10:38 PM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
you asked for more, you got it
[Image: conspiracy_theory.jpg]
01-21-2010, 11:04 PM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
Good call on Startpage b the w. I figured Pepe Escobar was a pseudonym as it seemed almost cartoonish, maybe it is.

Thanks h3rm35 but I'm going to go blind screen reading.
There are no others, there is only us.
01-21-2010, 11:19 PM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
here's pipeline-istan revisted:
BAKU, Azerbaijan - Tzaev Ilman, a friendly Shi'ite Azeri fond of Platin vodka and always caressing his proud possession - a Samsung mobile - may not know how important a player he is in the New Great Game. As a crew member of the "Azerbaijan" ferry, owned by the Caspian Shipping Co, this Caucasian, melancholic version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's ancient mariner plies the waters of the Caspian - a 400,000 square kilometer expanse of water and a privileged source of oil and caviar, unrivalled wealth and explosive conflict - between Baku, Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan and Aktau in Kazakhstan.

Last week though, even the ferries were silent in Baku's harbor. Heydar Aliyev, 80, Azerbaijan's "father" and president, had died in an American clinic of heart failure only a few hours before captive Saddam Hussein's images were transfixing the world.

Aliyev had ruled Azerbaijan since 1969 - as a general heading the local branch of the Soviet KGB, then as Communist Party secretary, and finally as president. Like Saddam and other Central Asian dictators, such as Turkmenistan's Saparmurat Niyazov, his image and his slogans were and still are splashed all over the country.

In a flash, more than a million mourners were crying for Aliyev in the streets of Baku. This was unseen since the death of Josef Stalin - Saddam's icon - 50 years ago. The mourners, from all corners of the Caucasian republic, streamed down avenues strewn with carnations towards the Palace of the Republic, where his body lay in state. His son, Ilham, 41, former playboy, casino owner and vice president of the state oil company SOCAR, is now president. In the first dynastic succession in the post-Soviet sphere, he inherited power last October in a rigged election.

The Paris of the Caspian
Tzaev does not see much during his ferry's pit stops. In Aktau, he hardly has any time to mingle with the local Russians, Kazakhs and Caucasians. Aktau, cornered between the Caspian and the desert, with its water coming from a nuclear-powered desalinization plant, has "attractions" like a huge Vladimir Lenin statue, a real MiG stuck on a pedestal, literally in the middle of nowhere.

Even the monster Tengiz oilfield - operated by the joint venture Tenghizchevroil - is 200 kilometers northeast. Aktau is not even Kazakhstan's oil city: this is Atyrau, in the Urals, 350 kilometers north of Tengiz: although Atyrau is not on the Caspian, the Caspian is coming to Atyrau, and the city may be under water by 2050. As for Aktau, it is certain to become a boom town when Caspian offshore oil exploration begins in earnest.

Tzaev is envious of Caspian waters in Turkmenbashi: they are a clear blue, compared to polluted Baku. For US$100 one can buy a kilogram of the finest beluga caviar, which would cost $260 in Baku. Very few Turkmen live in the port city: most people are Russian and Azeri. This was a key crossroads when Tzarist Russia built the Trans-Caspian railway. Then it was decadence, but now Turkmenbashi is the only port and sea link with Russia and - via the Volga and the Sea of Azov - the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. And this is where Turkmenistan's oil and gas reserves are.

Tzaev lives in a gritty Baku suburb, Surakhani, where families exchange their gloomy Soviet apartment blocks for extended promenades side by side with oil derricks. This Baku, smelling of oil, sulfur and sturgeon, is not the art deco Baku of old, smelling of saphron, enveloped by olive trees and vines, and greener than London. Now, destitute but dignified old ladies are forced to beg in the streets. Like most Azeris, Tzaev is very close to Anatolian Turks by language, physical traits and way of life. But in religion he is more like an Iranian, as he is Shi'ite. Yet ethnicity in Azerbaijan is more important than religion: the key references are Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey, from where they adopted the adapted the Latin alphabet, watch the movies - porno included - and follow politics closely.

A key question for the immediate future is the possibility of moderate Islam - now in power in Turkey - also seducing Azerbaijan. Azeris are fervent Muslims, even if the social facade is Soviet and somewhat Westernized, and there are fewer veiled women in Baku than in a Paris suburb. In hotel rooms, arrows pointing to Mecca coexist with condoms. Azerbaijan is already a member of the Council of Europe - and dreams of becoming, sooner or later, a full member of the European Union.

The Azeri military also collaborates with the Americans in Iraq. There was not a single peep from Washington on the new Azeri "republican dynasty" - a-la North Korea and Syria. Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, in a recent visit to Baku, was mum. Azeris themselves also don't seem to mind. Their major wounds remain the Soviet past, the demented excesses of Stalinism and the fact that Karabakh Armenians joined Armenia and forced hundreds of thousands of Azeri refugees to come to Baku - in a sort of Caucasian replay of India and Pakistan during partition in 1947.

Baku's fond memories are from the golden age when it was "the Kuwait of the Tzarist empire" and "the Paris of the Caspian". The city now would like nothing more than to celebrate the return of the French branch of the Rothschild family - which once had a crucial financial role in the city. This is a city with a certified chic CV.

A crucial cast of characters
Baku's funereal mood lasted for a full week, during which state TV, adding a new totalitarian post-Soviet twist to Chinese torture - or information control - took over all terrestrial channels, including Turkish and Russian, broadcasting for a whole week only throngs of people mourning Alyev. Many Azeris weren't even aware that Saddam had been arrested.

Among the mourners at the funeral was a crucial cast of characters: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Georgia's former leader Eduard Shevardnadze, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, George W Bush's special envoy - oil man Brent Scowcroft. Putin said in so many words that he "loved" Aliyev. Recep Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, with which Azerbaijan is extremely close, said: "The Turkic world has lost an outstanding individual." Shevardnadze was unconsolable: Alyev had been his personal friend for more than three decades. Every project involving oil and power between the two countries was dependent on their friendship.

In May, during a solemn pipe-laying ceremony for the start of the Georgian stretch of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC), Georgia oil executive Georgy Chantiurua said: "This was the start of the integration of Georgia into the NATO zone ... this pipeline will become an artery feeding energy to the US and European countries." The US$3.6 billion oilfield and pipeline development project involves a 1,767 kilometer pipeline, the world's longest, snaking from Baku through Georgia to a new terminal at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

The elder Aliyev said that the relationship between Georgia and Azerbaijan was a model, and he hoped that "in 2005 the presidents of the two countries will take part in the ceremony to load the first tanker from Ceyhan with Caspian oil". Little did he know that he and his great friend Shevardnadze would miss it: one of them is now dead and the other has been toppled. And no one at the moment is even betting that the main actors at the 2005 ceremony will be the younger Alyev and "Misha" Saakashvili, now at the interim helm in Georgia.

BTC and the regional context
The New Silk Road - as far as Washington is concerned - could be summarized by one acronym: BTC. The pipeline will be a massive snake: 443 kilometers in Azerbaijan, 248 kilometers in Georgia and 1,076 kilometers in Turkey. Its projected capacity is 50 million tons per annum. The plan is to start exporting Azerbaijani oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan to Western markets by the second quarter of 2005. BTC has become a true American obsession. According to the official version in Baku of the consortium building the pipeline, led by British oil giant BP, 25 percent of the construction is already finished. The Azerbaijani stretch should be finished by September 2004, the Georgian by October and the Turkish by December.

But this is Pipelineistan politics at its messiest. Nobody knows how stable the new post-Shevardnadze Georgian government - following January 4 elections - will be. Nobody knows how politically competent Ilham Aliyev is, although a Baku insider says that as long as oil wealth keeps flowing in, the elite from different clans may continue to support him.

David Woodward, BP's top employee in Baku, essentially says that both Georgia and Azerbaijan remain on board the project. Saakashvili says that BTC is "a matter of survival". Official lenders like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development say that all's well with the pipeline, despite uncertainty in Georgia.

But the fact is the geopolitical armwrestling between Russians and Americans for control of these crucial Eurasian lands is nothing less than titanic. Rumsfeld visited Baku on December 3, met Ilham Aliyev and proposed the deployment of mobile US military forces. This was the swift response in the incendiary words of Nikolay Ryabov, Russia's ambassador to Azerbaijan: "There has not been and there will not be any kind of American presence in the Caspian. We will not allow it, they have nothing to guard here." Crucially, Colonel-General Safar Abiyev, the Azeri minister of defense, admitted that he and Rumsfeld had discussed the security of BTC.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Ivanov was also alarmed. But Vafa Guluzade, head of the pro-American Caspian Political Studies Foundation, is sure that "the issue of the location of NATO bases in Azerbaijan has already been agreed upon between the Azerbaijani and the US governments". Guluzade says that Russia may not be happy - a splendid euphemism - with NATO knocking on its doors, but it doesn't have the power to prevent it. Guluzade has been in favor of NATO in Azerbaijan since the late 1990s, when he was a foreign affairs advisor to the elder Aliyev. Before the rigged Azeri presidential election last October, Aliyev junior went to Russia and stressed the "strategic character" of the bilateral relationship. He will be back to Moscow in mid-February, when he will certainly be forcefully reminded of his words by Putin.

American moves in the Caspian are directed against both Russia and Iran. So Iran also had to react against the militarization of the Caspian. The commander of the Iranian navy, Abbas Mohtaj, called all five Caspian countries "to unite efforts to prevent foreign military interference in the Caspian".

The Georgia factor
Relations between Georgia and Russia have been extremely tense for years. Tbilisi accuses Moscow of supporting the separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia provinces, and of ordering assassination attempts against Shevardnadze in 1996 and 1998. Georgians are overwhelmingly against a Russian presence in the tiny republic. Moscow for its part is fiercely against BTC, and also accuses Tbilisi of supporting Chechen guerrillas. In 2001, Moscow even slapped visas on Georgian visitors.

Russia's man in Georgia is definitely Aslan Abashidze, the flamboyant governor of the Black Sea province of Ajaria. He regarded Shevardnadze's ouster as "a coup". Ajaria, the biggest Georgian seaport, is also the site of Russia's largest military base in the country. Abashidze strongly denies he wants to secede from Georgia, like Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgian journalist Khatuna Kviralashvili says that Abashidze will secede only if he is sure to have support from the local people and from Russia: "But it's very unlikely that Ajaria's people will support his secessionist sentiments."

Georgia and Azerbaijan are joined by their security fears. Avtandil Iioseliani, head of Georgian intelligence - echoing Azerbaijan's security minister Namig Abasov - says there's credible information of possible sabotage against BTC by "some Arab countries". Geydar Jemal, chairman of the Russian Islamic Committee, says that there will be no holds barred: Russia may slap visas on Azeris as retaliation - like it did with Georgians in 2001 - if Azerbaijan welcomes NATO mobile military bases. This will be an enormous problem: at least 2 million Azeris live in Russia and send money every month to their families, a vital source of Baku's foreign exchange. According to Jemal: "It's obvious the US are interested in Azerbaijani territory for strengthening military pressure on Iran. But this would not serve the real interests of Azerbaijan."

The Chechen factor
Freelance Russian journalist Andrei Smirnov managed to meet and get a stunning interview from Amir Ramzan, the commander of one of the Chechen groups operating against the Russian military in the Northern Caucasus. Ramzan says that "not only do we carry out raids to various areas in the Caucasus, but we also form local jama'ats [groups], militant sabotage groups, locally. We are joined by a lot of Kabardinians, Dagestanis, Karachaevans, Ingushetians and even Ossetians."

In the interview, Ramzan issues a chilling warning: in 2004 "the war will seize the entire Caucasus from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. Apart from Ossetia and Ingushetia, this year another guerrilla war has already started in two areas of Dagestan bordering Chechnya. I swear by Allah, this is only the beginning."

Significantly, Ramzan suspects that "Western governments and their security services also secretly finance us through different Islamic funds and organizations. I am convinced that there are Western powers in whose interests it is to keep Russia permanently involved in such a slow-burning conflict as the war in the Caucasus."

Chechen President Akhmad Kadirov, in a recent press conference in Grozny, said that Russia's anti-terrorism operations in Chechnya will be over after the "elimination" of master guerrilla commander Shamil Basayev, accused by the president of being supported by foreigners and hiring foreign mercenaries. The majority of Chechens consider Kadirov a Russian puppet.

The big picture
There is little doubt that al-Qaeda was incubated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the 1980s in Pakistan. Peter Schweizer, in Victory - The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Atlantic Monthly Press), describes how "twenty thousand mujahideen were being pumped out every year by these schools dubbed 'CIA U' by some wags". A few hundred of these Arab-Afghans may now have joined the Iraqi resistance.

And there is also little doubt that September 11 provided the ultimate excuse for the US to install its military bases in Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus - a former Soviet sphere. So the "war on terror" is not about a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, and not even solely about "terrorism". The name of the game is basically Pipelineistan: monster oil corporate profits to be made by controlling Central Asia-Caspian Sea oil and gas, bypassing both Russia and Iran, and exerting extra pressure on China. As countless watchdogs have stressed, this is a ruthless "do or die" corporate war. As From the Wilderness puts it, it will be carried out "at any cost, no matter the suffering it may bring to human beings or the devastation it unleashes upon the environment. Such are the characteristics of today's imperialism, the source of war and terrorism."

"Grand chessboard" theoretician Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US national security advisor, defines Persian Gulf/Central Asia as the "global zone of percolating violence": it will become "a major battlefield, both for wars among nation-states and, more likely, for protracted ethnic and religious violence". Pentagon officials talk of an "arc of instability" running from the Andes in South America through North Africa, the Middle East and into Southeast Asia. American military intervention is making sure this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The US energy strategy is being guided by the Baker report - commissioned by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2001. The report stresses "the concentration of resources in the Middle East Gulf region and the vulnerability of the global economy to domestic conditions in the key producer countries". So the big picture as far as Washington is concerned is to mould these "domestic conditions" by carrots and by the biggest sticks to be found anywhere. As Larry Everest analyzes it in his book Oil, Power and Empire (Common Courage Press), the Baker report says, for instance, that "more than 90 percent of the world's proven oil reserves are owned by countries, national oil companies and the Russian oil companies" - a substantial majority closed to foreign direct investment. So it comes as no surprise that the road map for what will happen in the next few years is Cheney's May 2001 energy report: the strategy is to to gain access, leverage and control of oil and gas from Colombia and Venezuela in South America to Iraq in the Middle East and the Caspian. Thus the American demonization of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the fight against FARC in Colombia, the war against Iraq, the push for BTC in the Caspian, the courtship of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, etc.

Europe's thirst for oil until 2015 is expected to grow by only 1 million barrels a day. But Asia's is expected to grow by at least 10 million barrels a day. So the logic of the game dictates Pipelineistan should preferentially go East. The problem is this new golden oil road requires the longest pipelines in the world. The Hindu Kush and the Tian Shan mountains, for example, have to be bypassed. The shorter southern route has to go via either Iran or Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran is anathema in Washington. So as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey became the chosen ones for Pipelineistan going west, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the chosen ones for Pipelineistan going east.
BAKU, Azerbaijan - At an Eurasian economic summit in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, chairman of Italy's ENI, said that the Caspian held 7.8 billion barrels of oil. Estimates from other sources run from 13 billion tons to 22 billion tons to even 50 billion tons. For Kazakhstan, officially they stand at 27.5 billion tons: "If the forecasts are proved, in the nearest future the oil of the Caspian region could make one fifth of the world oil reserves and balance with the reserves of Iraq and Kuwait together,"Gros-Pietro said.

Kazakhs estimate that the Caspian already yields 4.7 million barrels of oil a day. Saudi Arabia recovers 8.1 million barrels a day and Russia 6.3 million. So the Caspian would already be positioned in third place, ahead of Iran at 3.4 million barrels and China at 2.8 million barrels. New Azeri President Ilham Alyev, a former oil executive, thinks that the Caspian could soon be in second place, due to the combined reserves of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan .

Kazakhs are sure that the Caspian will become the biggest source of oil, not only in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the CIS, countries but in the whole world. But many more pipelines are necessary to fulfill the dream. For the moment, Caspian oil reaches world markets via only five routes: Baku-Novorossiysk,Baku-Supsa, Tengiz-Novorossiysk, Atyrau-Samara and Neka-Tehran. The aggregate carrying capacity of these pipelines in 2015 will be 122 million tons - not counting the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) still under construction. But production in 2015 will be around 250 million to 300 million tons. Pipelineistan has to grow exponentially.

Most oil experts agree that the Caspian holds less than 10 percent of Middle East reserves. In fact, added together, the rest of the world holds only around 53 percent of the proven reserves of the Middle East. But according to a basket of energy forecasts, by 2050 the Persian Gulf/Caspian Sea will account for more than 80 percent of world oil and natural gas production. Together, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian may have something like 800 billion barrels of oil and an energy equivalent amount in natural gas. Compare this figure with oil reserves in the Americas and in Europe: less than 160 billion barrels. And they will be exhausted before 2030.

Who owns what?
Iran insists on an equal division of the Caspian sea - a formula that would leave each of the five Caspian countries with a 20 percent share. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia favor another mechanism in which Iran would end up with roughly 13 percent. Nobody knows exactly what Turkmenistan wants, given the total unpredictability of President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Sharing the Caspian territory has been a nightmare. But since last May, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia have in fact divided the northern Caspian. Kazakhstan will control 29 percent, and Azerbaijan and Russia 19 percent each. Iran and Azerbaijan still haven't come to an agreement: they are wrangling over a yet-to-be developed oilfield known as Alborz in Iran and Alov in Azerbaijan. And both Iran and Turkmenistan are disputing Azerbaijan's possession of three offshore oilfields.

Andar Shukputov, the Kazakh ambassador in Baku, says that both countries "share the same position and are cooperating closely ... We believe that every littoral state has sovereign rights to the Caspian basin." He expects an "intelligent compromise", and a "step-by-step approach to resolving the problems of the Caspian's legal status after the seabed is divided into national sectors".

Deals with Turkmenistan are a huge problem because of the impossible-to-fathom Nyazov. But Kazakh first vice minister of foreign affairs Abuseitov Khuatovich says that "Kazakhstan's proposal was completely supported by Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan." Nevertheless, it's still "necessary to determine the junction point of the delimitation line of the Caspian floor's contiguous parts, which is impossible without the participation of Azerbaijan".

As for Azerbaijan-Russian problems, they are intensifying even before the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline, BTC, hits the market. A great BTC incentive for Azeris is that the country will make more money. Russia wants to double the volume of transit oil on the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline. Azerbaijan is against this because it already stands to lose US$50 million in 2003-2004. Officials at Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR in Baku say that the country produces 9 million tons of oil a year: it exports only 2.5 million tons, via Baku-Novorossiysk.

Compare this with the so-called western pipeline - Baku-Supsa, in the Black Sea, in Georgia. Tariffs of Baku-Novorossiysk, at $15.67 per ton, are five times more expensive than Baku-Supsa ($3 per ton). On top of it, high quality Azeri light oil loses its price and value by being mixed with low-quality Russian oil. Azeri officials say that if that same high-quality oil was exported to the West, the country would make an extra $50 to $100 million a year.

Russia plays rough. It has prevented LukOil - the second-largest Russian oil firm - from participating in the BTC. Azeri officials insist it is Russia which "creates instability" in Georgia, through which the pipeline will pass. They also say that when the BTC starts operating, tariffs will also be around $3 per ton. So the bulk of Azeri oil will be exported via BTC. Russians are alarmed, and trying to secure a 10-year guarantee that Baku oil will be exported through Russian territory.

Russia's economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas. This is an economy that "will grow 7 percent in 2003, or perhaps even more", according to Russian Central Bank executive Oleg Vyugin. Yukos is still in the lead among the Russian oil giants - in spite of its mammoth legal, political and corporate mess in 2003. The merger with rival Sibneft has collapsed. Rates of production growth - for both Yukos and Sibneft - are falling, while growing for LukOil. The key point is that Russia cannot export more oil because its own pipelines are technically in a sorry state. And there's also great uncertainty about future oil prices.

The BTC bomb
The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline, BTC, is being planned and built by the BTC Pipeline Company (BTC Co), a huge consortium led and operated by British oil giant British Petroleum, BP. The major shareholders are BP (30.1 percent) and Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR ( 25 percent). The others are Unocal (US. Union Oil compay of California, 8.9 percent), Statoil (Norway, 8.71 percent), Turkish Petroleum (6.53 percent), ENI (Italy, 5 percent), TotalFinaElf (France, 5 percent), Itochu (Japan, 3.4 percent), ConocoPhillips (US, 2.5 percent), Inpex (Japan, 2.5 percent) and Delta Hess (a joint venture of Saudi Delta Oil with American Amerada, 2.36 percent). A related South Caucasus gas pipeline (which would run alongside the BTC), three oilfields (Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli) and the Shah Deniz gasfield which would feed the pipelines are also being planned by the same consortium.

The three countries through which the 1,767 kilometer pipeline will pass - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey - are all desperate to finish the BTC on time. Turkey owes a fortune to the International Monetary Fund. Georgia survives thanks to American handouts. Azerbaijan courted international lenders by setting up a state oil fund to use oil revenues to the benefit of future generations. Officially, the BTC will cost $2.95 billion, 30 percent financed by the consortium and 70 percent borrowed. It has already spiraled upwards to $3.7 billion, and counting.

A British-based BTC campaign is extremely concerned with the high stakes game around BTC. It has stressed how BP extracted an international treaty to back its investment. BTC is subject to an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey - "but drafted by BP's lawyers", as well as an individual Host Government Agreement (HGA) between each of the three governments and the BP-led consortium: "These agreements have largely exempted BP and its partners from any laws in the three countries - present or future - which conflict with the company's project plans. The agreements allow BP to demand compensation from the governments should any law (including environmental, social or human rights law) make the pipeline less profitable." The agreements have for these reasons been described by non-governmental organizations as "colonialist".

BTC's design is a masterpiece of power politics, although it makes no sense, as the most cost-effective route would be via Iran. BTC slices Azerbaijan in half from east to west, then slices Georgia in half almost from east to west before taking a dip south, bypassing probably secessionist Ajaria and slicing Anatolia diagonally from the northeast towards the south. The BTC campaign points out that "in the case of Turkey, the country would be effectively divided into three: the area where Turkish law applies; the Kurdish areas under official or de facto military rule; and a strip running the entire length of the country from north to south, where BP is the effective government". These issues obviously do not concern cheerful British BP employees downing their pints at the Britannia pub at the Baku Hyatt.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) - the private sector arm of the World Bank - is the key for financing BTC. It is now fully on board. But opposition to BTC is also fully on board - from Kurdish guerrillas in northeast Turkey to Georgia's Ministry of Environmental Protection. Ankara has used emergency powers to expropriate peasant land without decent compensation. BTC may contain many potential breaches of international law. And workers in Georgia are even complaining that in the past few months their paychecks have been sliced. During winter the salary of workers in Georgia will be raised by only $2. About 3,000 Georgians and 500 foreigners work on the BTC's Georgian stretch.

Executives of SOCAR, the Azeri state oil company, in Baku say that an altered pipeline route through Georgia would mean a new design, an extra 15-month delay and costs spiraling to as much as $5 billion. It doesn't matter that Georgian scientists have warned that excavations for the pipeline construction could result in the spread of acute infectious diseases in Georgia. Some corporate assurances are frankly Kafkaesque: among other justifications, BP in Baku says that even in the case of an oil leakage in the Borjomi area, there will be no damage to the source of the famous local mineral water because the pipeline will be 15 kilometers away.

With Azerbaijan - and also Kazakhstan - becoming important new energy suppliers for the US, they are expected to be under heavy scrutiny. A report by George Soros' Open Society Institute has called for "accountability, transparency, and public oversight in the oil and natural gas industries of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan". The report's opening comments by Joseph Siglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and former World Bank stalwart, may be just common sense: "There is no issue of greater importance than ensuring the long-run prosperity and stability of resource-rich countries by developing ways to use these resources and the wealth they generate well." These words may not necessarily make corporate sense.

Chevron country
Kazakhstan is Chevron country: the oil giant has invested more than $20 billion in these steppes. US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is Chevron's lady: from 1989 to 1992 she was on the board of directors as the resident Kazakhstan expert.

Kazakhstan hopes to be producing up to 250 million tons of oil by 2015. The country has only two export routes: Tengiz-Novorossiysk - 67 million tons maximum capacity - and Atyrau-Samara - 25 million tons maximum capacity after reconstruction - both via Russia. Kazakhstan is now engaged in exporting oil via modified Russian pipelines. A huge, 1,500 kilometer pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea port of Novorossyisk is the single largest American investment in the Caspian. The main client will inevitably be TengizChevroil, owned by Chevron (50 percent), ExxonMobil (25 percent) and Russian and Kazakh partners (25 percent).

Kazakhstan's only outlet to the Russian Transneft system is the Atyrau-Samara pipeline. It's not enough. Kazakhstan desperately needs new pipelines - because crumbling Russian infrastructure restricts Kazakhstan producing and exporting more oil. Kazakhstan also wants to export its oil to Europe through the Odessa-Brody-Gdansk-Plock pipeline. Now it's chasing the financing.

Russian executives recognize the country has a capacity deficit of 40 million tons, which should drop to only 10 million tons after a second Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) is in place. So after carefully gaining Russia's "non-resistance", Kazakhstan was finally able to sign a contract to link Aktau to Baku and so join BTC. Russian companies could even export their oil to the west via Aktau-Baku. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev considers BTC an absolute priority.

The feasibility project for a Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran pipeline is also being prepared, by French oil giant TotalFinaElf. And there's the pipeline from Aktau to China, which should be launched around 2010: it will only be justifiable in case it delivers 20 million tons per annum. There have been endless delays after a 1997 agreement between the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) and the Kazakh energy ministry, but the political will is there and both parties definitely want to do it.

Russia and 'gas OPEC'
Turkmenistan holds 20 percent of the world's natural gas reserves. But since April 2003, 90 percent of Turkmen gas exports are in fact under control of Russian giant Gazprom. According to a 25-year sweet deal, Gazprom pays $44 for every tonne, half in cash and half in Russian goods, and then re-sells the gas to Turkey for $150, and to Europe for $120. Under another contract with Uzbekistan, Gazprom is getting double the volume of Uzbek gas exports in exchange for updating the local gas network. Russia is effectively on its way to creating a "gas OPEC".

Trans-Afghan pipeline woes
The US is also very much implicated in the resuscitation of the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline, TAP - despite the endless political mess in Afghanistan. Halliburton - after making a killing in Iraq - would be expected to be on board in Afghanistan. The Japanese-dominated Asian Development Bank (ADB) is also very much interested. Unocal still officially maintains that it has lost interest in the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline it abandoned in 1998. But it wouldn't say no to an oil pipeline following the same route.

In a predictable move, the Bush administration appointed its pet Afghan, oil man Zalmay Khalilzad, as Washington's ambassador to Kabul. Khalilzad, born in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan but also pure University of Chicago right-wing material, has already worked with grand chess board master Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US national security advisor, and under Pentagon number two Paul Wolfowitz. It was Khalilzad - when he was a huge Taliban fan - who conducted the risk analysis for Unocal (Union Oil Company of California) for the infamous proposed $2 billion, 1,500 kilometer-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan,TAP, gas pipeline.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated keen interest in an Eurasian gas alliance, Turkmenistan's main concern is to free itself from dependence on the Center Trunkline which connects the whole Central Asian gas network to the Russian system. Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, for his part, needs money from gas transit, and Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf needs to keep strategic ties with Afghanistan. Once again, this is Pipelineistan as power politics. But TAP may reveal itself to be a hugely impractical proposition - basically because Afghanistan remains a country at war. Nobody for the moment wants to invest in TAP. Niyazov, Turkmenistan's unpredictable president, even had to court Russian gas giant Gazprom, which showed no interest. To top it all, nobody trusts Niyazov. Gazprom calculated that importing Turkmen gas is cheaper than developing remote Arctic and Siberian fields. So it looks for the moment that Russia's gas OPEC may be emerging as the winner.

The Iranian factor
Iran is trading its own Persian Gulf crude in return for Caspian oil from Russia and Central Asia. The 300 kilometer-long Neka-Tehran pipeline is raising Iran's swap capacity to 150,000 barrels a day. Swaps are attractive to both Iran and Central Asia because transport costs are minimal. Iran is feverishly working to position Neka-Tehran as a very attractive and cheap route compared to BTC. A major potential source of exports for Neka-Tehran is Kazakhstan's huge Kashagan field, which is expected to start pumping oil in 2007.

China in the Caspian
China imports nearly 50 percent of its oil, mostly from the Middle East. So inevitably, Central Asia is becoming more crucial by the day. According to China's Ministry of Finance, by 2010 the Middle Kingdom will be importing 120 million tons of oil per year, double what it imported in 2002. A pipeline from Kazakhstan to western China is crucial, especially if tapping from both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan as well. China will build a huge refinery in Urumqi, Xinjiang, to import oil from Kazakhstan. Kazakh crude is crucial in Beijing's strategy to pump oil from Western China to the industrialized east coast.

No wonder the highlight of Chinese President Hu Jintao's first foreign trip as chief of state was a stop in Kazakhstan. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) bought 25 percent of CNPC-Aktobenumaygaz and discussions are in an advanced stage concerning the China-Atasu-Alashankou oil pipeline, as well as a gas link to Turkmenistan via Kazakhstan.

As far as the Chinese are concerned, the New Silk Road is already under way with the route Urumqi-Alashankou-Druzhba-Aktau-Baku-Poti and further down the road to the Caucasus, Eastern and Western Europe. This is in fact the Traceca corridor, of which Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Ukraine are members. The Azeri ferry from Aktau to Baku, filled with railroad cars, is part of that route, which speeds up cargo transport by 12 days compared to Chinese cargo travelling via the Pacific Ocean.

More than two years after September 11, the Iraqi war has convinced quite a few Central Asian governments that American economic and strategic plans for the Caspian may not be in their best interest. China is now also a major player - and adding leverage to Central Asia in its relationship with the Americans. China is already the biggest trading partner for most of Central Asia. And Beijing is doing its best to tie regional security to its Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The West is bound to be supplied in the near future by plenty of Caspian oil and gas. Hopefully the Caspian seal will not be extinct by then, and the seven kinds of Caspian sturgeon - victims of indiscriminate poaching, illegal production and export of caviar, pollution and the rising level of the Caspian - will be finally protected by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.

Is the BTC the New Silk Road? By 2005 it may well have succeeded in bypassing both Russia and Iran - but it will not isolate them. The intersection of Pipelineistan and the "war on terror" will continue to reverberate as progressive militarization of ultra-repressive regimes. Full democracy and human rights are bound to remain low on the agenda. Russia won't relinquish the Caucasus and Central Asia as its area of influence. The strategy - now that Putin's "militocracy" controls all levers of power - is to bring back the "near abroad" under its bear hug, and at the same time expunge all traces of radical Islam - with or without American military presence and collaboration.

The BTC is not the only American weapon in Pipelineistan. American firms will build the AMBO Trans-Balkan pipeline from the Black Sea cutting across Bulgaria through Macedonia and Albania and to the Adriatic coast. One section of the pipeline runs north toward Central Europe. US corporations will control this oil flow.

Washington has never made any secret of its agenda to wrestle the Caucasus, the Caspian and Central Asia away from Russia. European customers for Russian oil and gas might be forced to rely on American giants for their supply, but the Russian counterpunch is already on: Putin has offered the European Union plenty of oil and nuclear protection in return for European investment - an offer Brussels simply cannot refuse.

A dreamer would see harmony between Russia, the US and China all engaged in a sensible exploitation of Central Asia's oil and gas and minerals. This would lead to economic development everywhere, and eventually more political freedom. It doesn't look like it's going to be this way. The perception in Islam, in the Chinese universe and also the Russian sphere is that America is using the "war on terror" to exclusively advance its own strategic oil and gas interests. This is a recipe for disaster - and ultimately war.

(Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)
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01-24-2010, 05:00 AM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
I think there are a number of things going on. Not just one. But the problem of Haiti being of no real use to anyone still persists. It produces nothing, it is basically a barren place, especially now. Surrounded by the ocean and fairly rugged mountains.

They are rounding up the peeps there and moving them to a controlled tent city area. I like that, that screams that there are going to be mass deaths now. Get them rounded up and they can stay on their time table much easier.

Did you hear about al-maliki going rogue over in Baghdad? Biden had to jump a plane over there real quick because al-maliki is doing things his way now and not cooperating with the US government anymore. He is turning on the sunni's and the US media is spinning that he is out of control. Of course try and find this story on the media, they aren't covering it very much. Not even on the net. I heard it on the radio yesterday. Figures that the US is losing control over Iraq.

Did you hear that Hugo Chavez made the announcement that the Haiti earthquakes are the fault of the US? That the US has an earthquake machine. I chuckled when I heard that and thought someone needs to tell Chavez the earthquake machine is called "HAARP". Why do you think NASA is sending people up to the space station every other day, that is primarily where things are being manipulated from. (I believe).

Zbigniew Brzezinski is an extremely powerful player. He is very highly placed. He has been involved in geo-political stuff for nearly 50 years. Jimmy Carter was his protege and now Barry Sotero is. How do you think Barry was able to go to the colleges he's gone to and travel the world while college hopping? How his career has been shaped so perfectly? He has been groomed for this and he is failing miserably. Have you noticed that recently Barry is being compared to Carter? Even the media is noticing the similarities. I find that interesting.

When Brzezinski talks I listen. When I see him on the news shows I listen because 9 times out of 10 he will allude to something. He will give clues for those who know what to listen for. I will admit this much, I wasn't aware that China owned the Panama Canal. Someone told me that the other day and I don't know where I have been but I didn't know that. I know China owns a considerable amount of the US, but not the Canal.

I still believe that Haiti will be used as a holding area for the masses. We will see soon enough. I found it interesting that the port all of a sudden is completely unusable now. Probably will never be fixed. Usually the Army Corps of Engineers are the ones who come in and repair those but they haven't been mentioned. We are well aware that 25,000 military troops are on the ground in Haiti. How many troops did Barry authorize just recently? Wasn't it about 30,000? Funny that approval came just before this happened. He kept stalling and stalling about approving the troops and then all of a sudden he approves 30,000? Timing is a little to coincidental for me. And the fact that they are re-routing troops from other areas to go to Haiti. How can sick and dying people be a threat?

Extremely interesting.
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats. H. L. Mencken

01-24-2010, 07:44 AM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
how 'bout a link for the history of barry sotero?
[Image: conspiracy_theory.jpg]
01-24-2010, 07:56 AM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
Solution: replace oil with sustainable energies, Bring back electric automobiles.
No need for oil = no more power to people in control of it.

Sorry for being over-simplistic. This rhetoric is tiring me.
01-24-2010, 08:34 AM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
(01-24-2010, 07:56 AM)Pixels303 Wrote: Solution: replace oil with sustainable energies, Bring back electric automobiles.
No need for oil = no more power to people in control of it.

Sorry for being over-simplistic. This rhetoric is tiring me.

maybe because the rhetoric is overly simplistic... Cars aren't the only things that run on petro-chemicals...

what do you suggest to replace plastics and pharmaceuticals that can't be synthesized without them?

how would you replace the (granted, toxic,) agribusiness that feeds most of the world?

cars are going away... quickly.

fix the rest of the mess, and I'd nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize (and you'd get one with no blood on it!)
[Image: conspiracy_theory.jpg]
01-24-2010, 01:13 PM,
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
There is no history for Barry Sotero. He is totally a fabrication of the elites.

"They" say he was born a "poor black child" to a white mother and black father. Obviously he has some white in him somewhere, but the pictures? Photoshopped. He is just a creation for the people. My opinion is nothing more than he started out life as a child sex slave of the rich, showed some potential and was groomed for higher things. The more potential he showed, the more groomed he was - until finally he is where he today. He's the "Marky Mark" of politics.

With the amount of examples we are having thrown at us everyday of the people "we thought we knew" this is not so far-fetched a theory. Probably truer of most of the people than we realize that we hold up as "stars".

We definitely reiterate everyday how gullible we are.
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats. H. L. Mencken

01-24-2010, 01:51 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-24-2010, 01:55 PM by EvilMaster.)
RE: It's official now - the people of Port Au Prince have very little time left
(01-24-2010, 07:56 AM)Pixels303 Wrote: Solution: replace oil with sustainable energies, Bring back electric automobiles.
No need for oil = no more power to people in control of it

This isn't about stealing their oil. It is about making sure their oil isn't developed. It's the same thing they did to Iraq. They attacked Iraq and cut off over half the production of Iraq. It's the same thing they will be doing to Venezuela and Iran soon.

By reducing the amount of oil that is available. Prices go up.

Why do they care about prices going up??

Because a new global currency is being setup under the Vatican via the United Nations via the IMF. This new global currency will be based on natural resources like Oil. This is why the UN is currently using the American military to seize all the largest oil reserves in the world. All these oil reserves that are being seized are now under the control of the United Nations. If you are going to create a global currency that is based on a natural resource. It is in your best interest to have control of that resource. Then it is in your best interest to impose a limit on that resource to increase and maintain the value of your currency.

P.s: The Euro is the first regional currency that will be based on the global currency. North America is getting it's own version of the Euro. So is Asia and Africa. These regional currencies will all be tied together and under the control of the Vatican.

"Give me control of a nations money supply. And I care not who makes it's laws"
Knower of the unknown.

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