Russia wins control of Turkmen gas
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Jul 31, 2008, 00:23
In the race for Caspian gas, Russia has won and the United
States has lost, according to an article in Wednesday�s Asia Times.
In his article, Russia
takes control of Turkmen (world?) gas, M K Bhadrakumar, a
former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, wrote, �From the details
coming out of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan and Moscow over the weekend, it is
apparent that the great game over Caspian energy has taken a dramatic turn. In
the geopolitics of energy security, nothing like this has happened before. The
United States has suffered a huge defeat in the race for Caspian gas. The
question now is how much longer Washington could afford to keep Iran out of the
And I ask has the War
on Terror that supported the appropriation by force of Caspian energy and
its proposed pipelines been lost as well?
After all, it was years before 9/11 that the US had designs
on conquering Afghanistan to lay those pipelines and acquire that gas and oil,
one way or the other. September 11 coincidentally (?) proved to be the reason
for a preemptive war with Afghanistan, purportedly to search for Osama bin
Laden, the alleged ringleader of the purported Muslim hijacker-cabal, who
commanded this mega disaster from a cave with his laptop and kidney dialysis
machine. This is the administration�s myth, swallowed by many, but not the few
awake at the switch.
Gazprom, it turns out, Russia�s Exxon and then some, penned
two major deals in Ashgabat last Friday, sketching a plan for purchase of
Turkmen gas. The first one deals with pricing for Russian purchases for the
next 20 years. The second deal makes Gazprom the sponsor for local Turkmen
energy projects. The two deals slam-dunk control over Turkmen gas exports, and
without killing a soul or destroying a square foot of property.
Gazprom, which was headed by present Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev for eight years, 2000 to May 2008, has taken a bold step that
must have had the approval of the top guns in the Kremlin. Medvedev also took a
side trip to Ashgabat on July 4-5 (what an irony) on his way to the G-8 summit
get together with Turkmenistan officials in Hokkaido, Japan.
Interestingly, the Friday agreements are not designed for
Gazprom to profit from reselling Turkmen gas and may lead to similar conditions
with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two other major gas-rich countries in
Central Asia. So old-fashioned profiteering was not the reason for Gazprom�s
actions. You could say, the Kremlin had a �grand strategy.�
Coincidentally, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin
visited Bejing over the weekend to begin with his Chinese counterpart, Vice
Premier Wang Oishan, an �energy initiative,� or �energy negotiation mechanism.�
It would seem Central Asia and China as well as Russia have gotten hip to
Zbigniew Brzezinski�s Grand Chessboard
dreams of conquering the Middle East and Central Asian gas and oil resources in
the march to world hegemony and simply bested Zbig and his former neocon
friends. In fact, the first round of talks about this deal happened in Beijing
on Saturday. Initially, there was a media blackout of the meeting, then Beijing
broke the news via the government-owned China Daily on Monday.
China Daily didn�t elaborate but mentioned the �good talks�
as �a good beginning.� and commented, �It seems that shift of Russia� energy
export policy is under way. Russia might turns its eyes from the Western
countries to the Asia-Pacific region . . . The cooperation in the energy sector
is an issue of great significance for Sino-Russian relations . . . the
political and geographic closeness of the two countries would put their energy cooperation under a safe umbrella and
make it a win-win deal. China-Russia are at their best times . . . The two
sides settled their lingering border disputes, held joint military exercises,
and enjoyed rapidly increasing bilateral trade.� Well, good for them. Peace at
As Bhadrakumar points out, the blowback of this deal is
�serious for the US and EU campaign to get their Nabucco gas pipeline project
going.� With no Turkmen gas, that pipeline is a pipedream. And the US strategy
of cutting Europe�s need on Russian energy makes no sense. So now, Washington�s
bad dream, that Europe�s needs may depend on Iranian gas supplies, has come
true. Turkey has even offered to mediate the Iran-US conflict.
Ouch, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush. You�ve been check mated on
the Grand Chessboard. But then, as the reporter points out, �The geopolitics of
energy makes strange bedfellows.�
Russia�s got the gas, and Tehran sees its way to integrate
with Europe; though Russia�s Turkmen gas control can�t be a total plus for
Iran. Tehran had pushed for its own deal with Ashgabat to distribute their gas
via Iranian pipelines.
Since Russia will have a hand in pricing, the era of cheap
gas for Europe may be ending. Russia has put itself at the head of the pack in
the world gas market, with a gas cartel in the offing. So, while we were
shooting people, shocking and awing entire countries, Russia, exercising
diplomacy and common sense shrewdness, was making deals that people felt
comfortable with, and walked away a winner.
On top of that, Russian oil and gas companies are now moving
into Latin America, where the US has not made itself particularly loved, though
it is our backyard. During Chavez�s visit to Moscow on July 25, Russia�s big
three energy companies, Gazprom, LUKoil and TNL-BP, penned agreements with the
Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company PDVSA. They will �replace� America oil
biggies, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips in Venezuela. Ouch, ouch!
As the deal was signed, Medvedev said, �We have not only
approved these agreements but have also decided to supervise their
implementation.� Chavez answered, �I look forward to seeing all of you in
Venezuela.� Of course, George and Dick may look forward to seeing them all in
hell, but I don�t think it�s quite going to turn out that way. I�m inclined to
say the world has had enough of US shock
and awe, bullying, lies, preemptive strikes, and the likes.
Hopefully, Americans have had enough of trillions of dollars
of their taxes spent on two wars; enough of the lost of 9/11, the tragedy
engineered by the government to start the War
on Terror; enough of the more than 4,000 American soldiers� deaths, and the
million-plus Iraqis and Afghans lost. In fact, this may provide some kind of
wake-up call for Washington, or even realization that this Russian pact (not war)
is the final nail in the administration�s coffin. So it goes, hopefully.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New
York. Reach him at email@example.com.
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