Saturday, November 21, 2009

Azeri President Threatens War Over Nagorno-Karabakh

The dictator cum president of the Caspian oil kingdom of Azerbaijan is threatening to retake a breakaway region by force. Ilham Aliyev was speaking a day ahead of another round of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh with his Armenian counterpart Serge Sarkisian. Nagorno-Karabakh is located inside of Azerbaijan but is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians who declared their independence from Baku in the early 1990s. A conflict left 30,000 deads and tens of thousands homeless. Talks on settling this conflict have been going on for years now. Ahead of Sunday's meeting in Munich, Aliyev boasted to ethnic Azeri refugees from the region that: "Azerbaijan is spending billions on buying new weapons, hardware, strengthening its position on the line of contact." Israel, of all countries, has been pouring weapons into Azerbaijan. That piece in Haaretz has this interesting point:

Foreign news outlets have reported that the two countries maintain intelligence and security contacts. The bolstering of these ties has reportedly been achieved by former Mossad agent Michael Ross.

Turkey is also playing a role here. They backed Muslim Azerbaijan in their conflict with Armenia and closed their border with Armenia in 1994 in a "sign of solidarity." Now Turkey and Armenia are set to kiss and make up, (despite huge differences over what the Armenians and most of the world calls the 'genocide' of over a million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during WW I. The Turks say the dead were victims of the war and not a coordinated campaign). Anyway, Turkey won't ratify a treaty to reopen diplomatic ties with Armenia unless progress is made on Nagorno-Karabakh. Get it. Any way, the region is percolating with oil, as the ever stellar Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointed out the obvious earlier this year when the Azeri foreign minister visited Foggy Bottom:

“Azerbaijan has a very strategic location that is one important not only to their country, but really, regionally and globally….”

As Rick Rozoff who does some of the best analysis of NATO in the former Soviet sphere puts it in this piece here:

The foundation of Western plans for Azerbaijan’s role in not only regional but ultimately global energy strategies began immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the creation of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the same year. After three and a half years of negotiations the so-called Contract of the Century was signed in the capital of Baku in 1994 with British Petroleum and other foreign oil companies including the American Amoco, Pennzoil, UNOCAL, McDermott and Delta Nimir firms.

The pivotal Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project was agreed upon in 1998 and went into effect in 2006.

Imagine that, it's all about oil!

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