- One of his first foreign visits as new President took
Barack Obama to Ankara for a high-profile meeting with Prime Minister Recep
Erdogan and other leading Turkish officials. Obama engaged in classical
"horse trading" wheeling and dealing. "I give you support
for Turkey's EU membership; you open the diplomatic door to Armenia,"
appears to have been the core of the deal. What other inducements the US
President gave in the case of Turkish influence within NATO and such is
secondary. Obama's goal was to break a political deadlock in Turkey to
construction of a major gas pipeline to Germany and other EU countries
in direct opposition to Russian Gazprom's South Stream pipeline.
- Nabucco is an integral part of a US strategy of total
energy control over both the EU and all Eurasia. On July 13 with a Nabucco
signing ceremony in Ankara the first fruits of the Obama soft diplomacy
appeared to be bearing fruit. The question remains if it will be bitter
- Leading Republican Party foreign policy figure, Senator
Richard Lugar, went as the Obama Administration's representative to Ankara
on July 13 for the signing ceremony approving the controversial Nabucco
project. EU Commission President Barosso was also present along with heads
of government of Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria.
- The Nabucco project when and if finished would take gas
from the Caspian region, Middle East via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary
with Austria and further on with the Central and Western European gas markets.
It would run some 3,300 km, starting at the Georgian/Turkish and/or Iranian/Turkish
border respectively, leading to Baumgarten in Austria, costing at least
$8 billion. The project is parallel to the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum
pipeline and could transport 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year. Two-thirds
of the pipeline will pass through Turkish territory.
- Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq are
being touted as potential suppliers.
- Until the Obama-Erdogan talks Nabucco had been stalled
largely by Turkish lack of interest. Now that all appears to be changing
and Washington has scored a minor coup over Moscow in the new Great Game
over Eurasian energy control. At least on the surface. The reality is far
- Sensitive geopolitics
- The importance of Nabucco to Washington ranks high on
the list. The US Senate just held hearings on how the control of energy
supplies influences global affairs, something that has been at the heart
of US foreign policy since at least the time Woodrow Wilson ordered the
US Fleet into VeraCruz Mexico to defend the interests of Rockefeller's
Standard Oil in 1913.
- At their hearing in Washington, the august Senators were
especially interested in the planned Nabucco gas pipeline. Senator John
Kerry, chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
commented in the hearings, with definite understanement "There is
a striking overlap between the world's sources of energy and the world's
sources of instability, and we need to take note of that carefully. Iran,
Iraq, Sudan, Russia, the Caucasus, Nigeria, Venezuela are all on the frontlines
of our energy supply challenges, but also the fault lines of our geopolitics."
- What the Democrat Senator did not mention is that those
countries were on the "faultlines of our geopolitics" because
US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War had made them into faultline
states in order to increase Washington control over the economic future
of Eurasia including both China and Russia, as well as over the energy-dependent
European Union. For Washington, that control has been THE central preoccupation
of all US foreign policy since the fall of the Berlin Wall in November
- Gas for Nabucco?
- The major problem with Nabucco now is not the willingness
of Turkey to build the longest part of the pipeline to Bulgaria. That has
been agreed. What remains however is a huge problem of who will fill that
pipeline with ample volumes of natural gas to make it economically practical.
Here is where it gets dicey.
- Until now the main gas supply for Nabucco should be Azerbaijan,
source of large oil reserves to fill another Anglo-American-backed pipeline
run by a British Petroleum consortium to bring Baku oil from the Caspian
Sea to the west independent of Russia. That Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline
was the real reason Washington backed the 2004 Georgian "Rose Revolution"
that put the erratic dictator Mikhail Saakashvili into power, pushing out
veteran Soviet-era fox Edouard Shevardnadze, who had become too friendly
with Moscow for the likes of Bush-Cheney oil geopolitics.
- But now Azerbaijan may have problems providing enough
gas to make Nabucco feasible. In June, Azerbaijan signed with Russia's
Gazprom for gas from Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz field -- the same field
Nabucco hopes to tap for its pipeline.
- The Gazprom-Azeri deal states that other purchasers must
outbid Gazprom, giving Russia a possible lever to stall or even to kill
the Nabucco project, (which is intended to decrease Europe's reliance on
Russia's gas), by pushing the price of gas from Shah Deniz up too high
to make Nabucco profitable on commercial terms as a rival to Russia's South
Stream. Azerbaijan's President Aliyev seems to be playing a cat-and-mouse
game with both Russia and the EU-Washington, to play one off against the
other for the highest price. Gazprom agreed to pay an unusually high price
of $350 per thousand cubic meters for their Shah Deniz gas, a clear political
not economic decision by Moscow which owns controlling interest in Gazprom.
- To keep hopes alive for the completion of a viable Nabucco,
Washington has few cards to play. Even were Azerbaijan to agree to sell
gas and Nabucco to buy it on competitive terms to Gazprom, industry sources
say the Azeri gas would alone not suffice to fill the pipeline. Where could
the remaining gas come?
- One possible answer is Iraq; the second is Iran. Both
are with huge geopolitical problems for Washington to put it mildly.
- Senator Lugar, just back from his trip to Ankara to observe
the Nabucco signing, told his Senate colleagues the answer to the Nabucco
gas supply problem might lie in Iraq, which he claimed could supply up
to half of the gas for Nabucco. "Ideally, in the way of the world,
the natural gas - and maybe in due course oil supplies - coming out of
a united Iraq might provide this kind of capital, which would be a miraculous
happening and a wonderful ending to a very tragic period in their history,"
Lugar said. Ideally it sounds nice. Practically is another question, even
with the US retaining its vast network of permanent US military bases across
Iraq. Iraqui gas to Turkey would pass through Kurdish areas providing the
Kurds with a lucrative new revenue stream, something not too devoutly desired
- The second option, which also happens to hold the world's
second largest reserves of identified natural gas next to Russia, is Iran.
- Uuuuuuhaaa. Ouch! That doesn't quite fit into the geopolitically
correct map used in Washington these days.
- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited both
Russia and Iran to join the Nabucco project, RIA Novosti reported. He stated,
"We want Iran to join the project when conditions will allow, and
also hope for Russia's participation in it."
- For its part, Teheran is enjoying the cat-and-mouse game:
"European companies understand the fact that the project will be economically
justified in case Iran is the supplier,"" Seyyed Reza Kasaiizadeh,
National Iranian Gas Export Company's managing director told press on the
day of the Ankara Nabucco signing. He claimed, rightly, that supplying
the Nabucco pipeline with Iran's gas is the most economical alternative.
"Despite political oppositions, Iran sees itself as s potential supplier
of the project," he added. That didn't go down well in Washington.
- Richard Morningstar, the State Department's Special Envoy
for Eurasian Energy, told the Senate that Iran should not benefit from
Nabucco until Tehran agrees to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program.
"This would be the absolute worst time to encourage Iran to participate
in a project in Nabucco, when we have received absolutely nothing in return,"
he said. Significantly, he noted that Nabucco could be used as an incentive
to get Iran to better cooperate and engage with the international community.
- Why Armenia?
- The natural route to bring Iranian gas to Europe via
Nabucco goes through Armenia, the small and fiercely independent nation
sandwiched between Iran, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. In early 2007
a small pipeline opened bringing Iranian gas to Armenia. A second pipeline,
if built, would potentially allow Iran to bring its gas via Turkey and
Nabucco to European markets. This begins to explain why Obama made the
issue of Turkish reconciliation of the long-standing tensions between Ankara
and Armenia over the Armenian charges of genocide during World War I a
priority in his April talks with Prime Minister Erdogan.
- It seems Obama's advisers are playing a far more subtle
geopolitical game than did Cheney and Bush. By holding out several juicy
financial carrots, to Turkey, to Armenia, even to Teheran if it were to
abandon its nuclear ambitions, Washington hopes to throw a giant monkey
wrench into the attempt of Moscow to retain a significant control over
Eurasian energy supplies to the EU, a major lever to ensure more stable
EU-Russian relations amid growing threats to Russia's security from Washington's
misnamed missile defense shield being built in Poland and the Czech Republic.
- Notably, on the latter point, it is worth noting that
Obama refused to give an inch during the recent summit talks in Russia.
That's because Washington's agenda of geopolitical control over the Eurasian
Continent is the only lever of maintaining the hegemony of a failing American
Century at this point. Full Spectrum Dominance or none seems to be the
- © Copyright F. William Engdahl,
- GlobalResearch.ca, 2009