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Quick jump to below stories:
Pipeline protests hit Shell
Russia's Gas Monopoly Gazprom to Triple Ukraine Export Prices
Ukraine, Russia rattle swords in gas stand-off
Revolution, geopolitics and pipelines
China, Russia Call for U.S. to Plan Exit
China, Russia warn of world domination
Russia, Mexico Talk Up LNG

[Note the sting in this story's final paragraph:

"The era of the domination of North Sea gas comes to an end tonight when a tanker berths at National Grid's new £130 million terminal on the Isle of Grain, Kent. The ship… is carrying 31 million cubic metres of liquid natural gas from Algeria - enough to supply 47,000 homes for a year. As North Sea supplies start to dwindle, Britain will depend more on dearer LNG from areas such as Egypt and Algeria."

The British economy began to run out of steam, so to speak, in the 1970's, until a near-miraculous reprieve appeared. The relative prosperity of the Thatcher period was based on the sudden godsend of North Sea oil and gas. Though divided up between Britain and Norway, and accessible only to deepwater rigs operating at extremely cold temperatures, these resources were abundant enough to stave off Britain's economic decline for another two decades.

Let me mention that in the ancient world, Plato wrote about a certain itinerant priestess named Diotima who magically postponed a plague at Athens by a decade or so. The Diotima in postwar Britain's story is not the union-busting Rightist who went to war with Argentina, it's the North Sea energy discovery. And now she's moving on.

Meanwhile, Shell is in trouble because it can't conjure reserves from thin air (far more difficult than turning the blood of Nigeria's Ogoni people into oil). The two photo captions from this story's original URL are instructive:

"PIPE DREAM: The oil pipeline has been dogged by protesters because of its impact on salmon breeding grounds.

"STRUGGLE: Shell desperately needs the project to be successful."

How to choose between the short term energy and the long term fishery? Though one could buy a scientist to construct an argument supporting the Sakhalin LNG pipeline (some people already have), the sober answer is plain as day.

With or without the latest batch of existing reserves, oil and gas will soon be too expensive for our current food production systems. At that point, the human community will desperately require all the food sources we can possibly exploit in the absence of cheap energy and the vast infrastructure it supported. Fisheries and crops will succeed or fail - millions of people will starve to death or flourish - based upon the environmental integrity of the food species. On one side, this is wild habitat quality and farming technique; on the other, it is genetic diversity. Risking the spoliation of the remaining wild salmon populations is the same game of Russian Roulette that we play when we tolerate the biogenetic imperialism of the monocrops engineered by Monsanto.

In other words, the disappearing Western Grey Whale may be annoying some people with its pesky right to exist, but the mass extinctions currently wracking the biosphere will have plenty of economic reality when the trawlers shut down. -JAH]

Pipeline protests hit Shell

Tom McGhie
Mail on Sunday
3 July 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Shell has suspended work in Russia on parts of a controversial £6bn gas and oil pipeline - the most expensive in the world.

As the group last week cemented the merger of its Dutch and British arms in an attempt to draw a line under recent troubles, a Russian government report accused the oil giant of environmental vandalism.

The report last week strongly criticised Shell's venture for destroying the land around riverbanks on the island of Sakhalin, north of Japan. Moscow warned of possible fines.

Hundreds of indigenous people blockaded roads leading to Shell's Sakhalin Energy oil and gas facilities last week as protests grew over the alleged damage.

The project is two years late and £1bn over budget, but its success is essential to Shell, which has faced criticism over the past two years for its failure to find new reserves.

Last week, Shell escaped criminal charges in America for overstating reserves and chief executive Jeroen van der Veer told Financial Mail he wanted to put the scandal behind him.

The Sakhalin-2 project involves running a pipeline 500 miles to carry gas and oil from rigs off the north of the island to a port in the south. But the pipeline crosses 1,100 rivers, many rich in salmon.

The pollution caused by diverting rivers and destroying riverbanks has already led to damage to salmon-breeding grounds and has threatened the vital fishing industry.

Three months ago, Shell was forced to reroute the pipeline, which could eventually pump 140,000 barrels of oil a day, because it threatened the feeding grounds of the Western Grey Whale. There are thought to be only 100 left. The company halted work for studies into the project's environmental impact.

Shell said: 'There is suspension on the work around the rivers to allow for more training for contractors on environmental matters.' Malcolm Brinded, executive director of Shell Exploration & Production, met protesters from Russia who visited London last week to complain about the damage that Shell had allegedly inflicted on the environment.

It has also emerged that the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, which has so far refused to fund part of the project, is sending a team to the island next month for the second time.

Shell desperately needs funding for the project and many banks look to the EBRD for guidance on whether to invest.

Financial Mail revealed last year that Shell had exaggerated the charity work it had done to help the community in Nigeria, where it has faced savage criticism for causing pollution and failing to stop human rights violations.

The era of the domination of North Sea gas comes to an end tonight when a tanker berths at National Grid's new £130 million terminal on the Isle of Grain, Kent. The ship, above, is carrying 31 million cubic metres of liquid natural gas from Algeria - enough to supply 47,000 homes for a year. As North Sea supplies start to dwindle, Britain will depend more on dearer LNG from areas such as Egypt and Algeria.

Back To Story List

[People in Kiev have not forgotten Stalin's famine in the Volga Valley that killed more than 8 million Ukrainians. This fight for energy is also a fight for food and warmth. If Russia can't succeed at bringing its former satellites to heel - that is, getting the U.S. out of Central Asia - it will have to penetrate the U.S. geostrategic energy sources in turn, at political weak points: especially Venezuela and Mexico. -JAH]

Russia's Gas Monopoly Gazprom to Triple Ukraine Export Prices


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom wants to triple its export gas price to Ukraine, the Kommersant daily reported on Tuesday, June 7. The paper quoted a proposal made by Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller during talks with the chairman of the Ukrainian state and oil gas firm Naftogaz Ukraine, Alexei Ivchenko. The talks took place on Monday.

Another paper, Russia's business daily Vedomosti also quoted sources close to the talks as saying that Gazprom proposed to raise prices for its gas exports to Ukraine to $160 per 1,000 cubic meters from the $55 paid by Naftogaz Ukraine now. The two sides have failed to come to an agreement, the paper said.

There was also no progress on the problem of $400 million worth of Gazprom gas that disappeared from a Ukrainian underground storage facility in the winter of 2004-2005, for which Gazprom has demanded payment from Ukraine, Vedomosti said.

Nearly 70 percent of Russian gas exports go through Ukraine. Gazprom is the world's largest natural gas producer and supplies a quarter of Europe's gas needs. Gazprom also wants to control gas exports coming out of land-locked Turkmenistan, while Ukraine is trying to negotiate a separate deal with Turkmenistan and even offered the Central Asian state the opportunity to manage its sprawling gas pipeline system badly in need of modernization.

Ukraine's recently elected President Viktor Yushchenko is seeking to get out of an arrangement that was negotiated by his predecessor Leonid Kuchma who gave a lucrative 25-year Turkmen gas supply contract to the Swiss-based company Rusukrenergo jointly controlled by Gazprom and a group of private investors. According to this contract, in 2007 all 40 billion cubic meters of Turkmenistan's westward-bound gas exports are to be taken over by Rosukrenergo.

Back To Story List

Ukraine, Russia rattle swords in gas stand-off

29 June 2005 15:09

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

After Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said yesterday his company would consider nearly eight billion cubic meters of Russian gas in Ukrainian underground storage as part payment for gas transit services through Ukraine, Ukraine's gas shortfall stands now at 18 billion cubic meters, Vremya Novostei newspaper reports.

This year, Ukraine's Naftogaz will receive only 15 billion cubic meters of fuel from Gazprom, the story says. The Russian gas giant wants to supply it at a European price of $160 for 1,000 cubic meters, a total value of $2.9 billion.

A source close to negotiations told the newspaper Ukraine's authorities did not rule out the possibility of using "old methods" - unauthorized tapping of fuel - to cover the country's gas deficit. But stealing from Gazprom pipelines might cost Ukraine dear.

When Belarus tried to take gas from the Russian producer in February last year - amid heated debate about the price of supply - Gazprom suspended transit for about 24 hours, causing panic among consumers, the newspaper says.

Things are different with Ukraine, whose territory transports ten times more than Belarus. It is also not apparent why Ukraine does not agree to a friendly offset solution at $50 for 1,000 cubic meters.

Kommersant newspaper, citing sources, estimates Ukraine's gas deficit at ten billion cubic meters. It is unlikely that Ukraine will fill the gap with gas from Turkmenistan, the newspaper says. Turkmenistan would be unable sharply to increase production and supply would come too dear for Ukraine, at more than $60 for 1,000 cubic meters.

Alexander Gudyma, from Ukraine parliament's fuel and energy committee, said yesterday that "even if Gazprom fails to supply the 7.8 billion cubic meters in question, all of Gazprom's gas exports go through Ukraine and Ukraine will be able to take as much gas as it needs, and there will be no gas crisis."

Naftogaz Ukrainy chairman Alexei Ivchenko spoke in the same spirit. "If the Russian side offers this offset, we automatically offer to offset this gas as part of Russia's gas exports through Ukraine to Europe." In other words, he indicated that Ukraine's national gas company would siphon off the gas from Gazprom's trunk line to Europe.

Industry war between Russia and Ukraine is said to loom. It could erupt closer to winter. This would be a larger-scale conflict than the Russia-Belarus spat.

Back To Story List

Revolution, geopolitics and pipelines

By F. William Engdahl
June 30, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

After a short-term fall in price below the $50 a barrel level, oil has broken through the $60 level and is likely to go far higher. In this situation one might think the announcement of the opening of a major new oil pipeline to pump Caspian oil to world markets might dampen the relentless rise in prices.

However, even when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on June 15 to raise its formal production quota by another 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), the reaction of NYMEX oil futures prices was to rise, not fall. Estimates are that world demand in the second half of 2005 will average at least 3 million barrels a day more than the first half of the year.

Oil has become the central theme of world political and military operations planning, even when not always openly said.

Caspian pipeline opens a Pandora's box
In this situation, it is worth looking at the overall significance of the May opening of the Baku to Ceyhan, Turkey, oil pipeline. This 1,762 kilometer long oil pipeline was completed some months ahead of plan.

The BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) pipeline was begun in 2002 after four years of intense international dispute. It cost about US$3.6 billion, making it one of the most expensive oil projects ever. The main backer was British Petroleum (BP), whose chairman, Lord Browne, is a close adviser to Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair. BP built the pipeline through a consortium including Unocal of the US, Turkish Petroleum Inc, and other partners.

It will take until at least late September before 10.4 million barrels can provide the needed volume to start oil delivery to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea. Ceyhan is conveniently near to the US airbase Incirlik. The BTC has been a US strategic priority ever since president Bill Clinton first backed it in 1998. Indeed, for the opening ceremonies in May, US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman attended and delivered a personal note of congratulations from US President George W Bush.

As the political makeup of the Central Asia Caspian region is complex, especially since the decomposition of the Soviet Union opened up a scramble in the oil-rich region of the Caspian from the outside, above all from the US, it is important to bear in mind the major power blocs that have emerged.

They are two. On the one side is an alliance of US-Turkey-Azerbaijan and, since the "Rose" revolution, Georgia, that small but critical country directly on the pipeline route. Opposed to it, in terms of where the pipeline route carrying Caspian oil should go, is Russia, which until 1990 held control over the entire Caspian outside the Iran littoral. Today, Russia has cultivated an uneasy but definite alliance with Iran and Armenia, in opposition to the US group. This two-camp grouping is essential to understanding developments in the region since 1991.

Now that the BTC oil pipeline has finally been completed, and the route through Georgia has been put firmly in pro-Washington hands, an essential precondition to completing the pipeline, the question becomes one of how Moscow will react. Does President Vladimir Putin have any serious options left short of the ultimate nuclear one?

A clear strategy
A geopolitical pattern has become clear over the past months. One-by-one, with documented overt and covert Washington backing and financing, new US-friendly regimes have been put in place in former Soviet states which are in a strategic relation to possible pipeline routes from the Caspian Sea.

Ukraine is now more or less in the hands of a Washington-backed "democratic" regime under Viktor Yushchenko and his billionaire Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, known in Ukraine as the "gas princess" for the fortune she made as a government official, allegedly through her dubious dealings earlier with Ukraine Energy Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and Gazprom. The Yushchenko government's domestic credibility is reportedly beginning to fade as Ukrainian "Orange" revolution euphoria gives way to economic realities. In any event, on June 16 in Kiev, Yushchenko hosted a special meeting of the Davos World Economic Forum to discuss possible investments into the "new" Ukraine.

At the Kiev meeting, Timoshenko's government announced that it planned to build a new oil and gas pipeline from the Caspian across Ukraine into Poland, which would lessen Ukraine's reliance on Moscow oil and gas supplies. Timoshenko also revealed that the Ukrainian government was in positive talks with Chevron, the former company of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for the project.

It goes without saying that such a project would run counter to the Russian regional interest. One reason for Washington's strong backing for Yushchenko last year was to counter a decision by the Kuchma government and parliament to reverse the flow of the Brody-Odessa pipeline from a planned route from the Black Sea port into Poland. The initial Odessa-to-Poland route would have tied Ukraine to the West. Now Ukraine is discussing with Chevron to build a new pipeline doing the same. The country presently gets 80% of its energy from Russia.

A second project Ukraine's government and the state NAK (Naftogaz Ukrainy) are discussing is with France's Gaz de France to build a pipeline from Iran for natural gas to displace Russian gas. Were that to happen it would simultaneously weaken ties of mutual self-interest between Russia and Iran, as well as Russia and France.

On the same day as the Kiev conference, Kazakhstan's government told an international investors' conference in Almaty that it was in negotiations with Ukraine to route Kazakh oil as well through the proposed new Ukrainian pipeline to the Baltic. Chevron is also the major consortium leader developing Kazakh oil in Tengiz. Given the political nature of US "big oil", it is more than probable that Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and the administration in Washington are playing a strong role in such Ukraine pipeline talks. The "Orange" revolution, at least from the side of its US sponsors, had little to do with real democracy and far more with military and oil geopolitics.

Pipelines and US-Azeri ties
The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was originally proclaimed by BP and others as the project of the century. Former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was a consultant to BP during the Bill Clinton era, urging Washington to back the project. In fact, it was Brzezinski who went to Baku in 1995, unofficially, on behalf of Clinton, to meet with then-Azeri president Haidar Aliyev, to negotiate new independent Baku pipeline routes, including what became the BTC pipeline.

Brzezinski also sits on the board of an impressive, if little-known, US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC). The chairman of USACC in Washington is Tim Cejka, president of ExxonMobil Exploration. Other USACC board members include Henry Kissinger and James Baker III, the man who in 2003 personally went to Tbilisi to tell Eduard Shevardnadze that Washington wanted him to step aside in favor of the US-trained Georgian president Mikhail Shaakashvili. Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to George H W Bush, also sits on the board of USACC. And Cheney was a former board member before he became vice president. A more high-powered Washington team of geopolitical fixers would be hard to imagine. This group of prominent individuals certainly would not give a minute of their time unless an area was of utmost geopolitical strategic importance to the US or to certain powerful interests there.

Now that the BTC pipeline to Ceyhan is complete, a phase 2 pipeline is in consideration undersea, potentially to link the Caspian to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with its rich gas reserves, directing that energy away from China to the West in a US-UK-controlled route.

In this context, it's worth noting that Bush himself made a trip to Tbilisi on May 10 to address a crowd in Freedom Square, promoting his latest war on tyranny campaign for the region. He praised the US-backed "color revolutions" from Ukraine to Georgia. Bush went on to attack Franklin D Roosevelt's Yalta division of Europe in 1945. He made the curious declaration, "We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability," the president said. "We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others." Bush continued, "Now, across the Caucasus, in Central Asia and the broader Middle East, we see the same desire for liberty burning in the hearts of young people. They are demanding their freedom - and they will have it."

What color will the Azeri revolution take?
Not surprisingly, that speech was read as a "go" signal for opposition groups across the Caucasus. In Azerbaijan four youth groups - Yokh! (No!), Yeni Fikir (New Thinking), Magam (It's Time) and the Orange Movement of Azerbaijan - comprise the emerging opposition, an echo of Georgia, Ukraine and Serbia, where the US Embassy and specially trained non-governmental organizations operatives orchestrated the US-friendly regime changes with help of the US National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House and the Soros Foundations.

According to Baku journalists, Ukraine's Pora (It's Time), Georgia's Kmara (Enough) and Serbia's Otpor (Resistance) are cited by all four Azeri opposition organizations as role models. The opposition groups also consider Bush's February meeting in Bratislava with Pora leader Vladislav Kaskiv as a sign that Washington supports their cause.

It seems the same team of Washington regime-change experts are preparing for a "color revolution" for the upcoming November elections in Azerbaijan as were behind other recent color revolutions.

In 2003, on the death of former Azeri president Haider Aliyev, his playboy son, Ilham Aliyev, became president in grossly rigged elections which Washington legitimized because Aliyev was "our tyrant", and also just happened to hold his hand on the spigot of Baku oil.

Ilham, former president of the state oil company SOCAR, is tied to his father's power base and is apparently now seen as not suitable for the new pipeline politics. Perhaps he wants too big a share of the spoils. In any case, both Blair's UK government and the US State Department's AID are pouring money into Azeri opposition groups, similar to Otpor in Ukraine. US Ambassador Reno Harnish has stated that Washington is ready to finance "exit polling" in the elections. Exit polling in Ukraine was a key factor used to drive the opposition success there.

Moscow is following Azeri events closely. On May 26, the Moscow daily Kommersant wrote, "While the pipeline will carry oil from the East to West, the spirit of 'color revolutions' will flow in the reverse direction." The commentary went on to suggest that Western governments wanted to promote democratization in Azerbaijan out of a desire to protect the considerable investment made in the pipeline. That is only a part of the strategic game, however. The other part is what Pentagon strategists term "strategic denial".

Until recently the US had supported the corrupt ruthless dictatorship of the Aliyev's as the family had played ball with US geopolitical designs in the area, even though Haider Aliyev had been a career top KGB officer in the Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev era. Then on April 12, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to Baku, his second visit in four months, to discuss demands to create a US military base in Azerbaijan, as part of the US global force redeployment involving Europe, the Mideast and Asia.

The Pentagon already de facto runs the Georgia military, with its US Special Forces officers, and Georgia has asked to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Now Washington wants to have direct bases in Azerbaijan proximate to Russia as well as to Iran.

The Pentagon has also allocated $100 million to build a Caspian Guard of special forces military, ostensibly to guard the new BTC pipeline, though the latter was deliberately built underground to make it less vulnerable, one reason for its high cost. Part of the Pentagon money would go to build a radar-equipped command center in Baku, capable of monitoring all sea traffic in the Caspian. The US wants airbases in Azerbaijan, which naturally would be seen in Tehran and Moscow as a strategic provocation.

In all this maneuvering from the side of Washington and 10 Downing Street, the strategic issue of geopolitical control over Eurasia looms large. And increasingly it is clear that not only Putin's Russia is an object of the new Washington "war on tyranny". It is becoming clear to most now that the grand design in Eurasia on the part of Washington is not to pre-empt Osama bin Laden and his "cave dwellers".

The current Washington strategy targets many Eurasian former Soviet republics which per se have no known oil or gas reserves. What they do have, however, is strategic military or geopolitical significance for the Washington policy of dominating the future of Eurasia.

That policy has China as its geopolitical, economic and military fulcrum. A look at the Eurasian map and at the target countries for various US-sponsored color revolutions makes this unmistakably clear. To the east of the Caspian Sea, Washington in one degree or another today controls Pakistan, Afghanistan, potentially Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. These serve as a potential US-controlled barrier or buffer zone between China and Russian, Caspian and Iranian energy sources. Washington is out to deny China easy land access to either Russia, the Middle East or to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea.

Whither Kyrgystan?
Since early 2005, when a series of opposition protests erupted over the fairness of parliamentary elections in February and March, Kyrgystan has joined the growing list of Eurasian republics facing major threat of regime change or color revolution. The success of former Kyrgystan premier Kurmanbek Bakiev in replacing ousted president Askar Akayev in that country's so-called "Tulip" revolution, becoming interim president until July presidential elections, invited inevitable comparisons with the "Orange" revolution in Ukraine and the Georgian "Rose" revolution.

Washington's Radio Liberty has gone to great lengths to explain that the Kyrgystan opposition is not a US operation, but a genuine spontaneous grass-roots phenomenon. The facts speak a different story however. According to reports from mainstream US journalists, including Craig Smith in the New York Times and Philip Shishkin in the Wall Street Journal, the opposition in Kyrgystan has had "more than a little help from US friends" to paraphrase the Beatles song. Under the Freedom Support Act of the US Congress, in 2004 the dirt-poor country of Kyrgystan received a total of $12 million in US government funds to support the building of democracy. This will buy a lot of democracy in an economically desolate, forsaken land such as Kyrgystan.

Acknowledging the Washington largesse, Edil Baisolov, in a comment on the February-March anti-government protests, boasted, "It would have been absolutely impossible for this to have happened without that help." According to the New York Times' Smith, Baisolov's organization, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Rights, is financed by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a Washington-based non-profit organization in turn funded by Rice's State Department. Baisolov told Radio Liberty he had been to Ukraine to witness the tactics of their "Orange" Revolution, and got inspired.

But that isn't all. The whole cast of democracy characters has been busy in Bishkek and environs supporting American-style democracy and opposing "anti-American tyranny". Washington's Freedom House has generously financed Bishkek's independent printing press, which prints the opposition paper, MSN, according to its man on the scene, Mike Stone.

Freedom House is an organization with a fine-sounding name and a long history since it was created in the late 1940s to back the creation of NATO. The chairman of Freedom House is James Woolsey, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director who calls the present series of regime changes from Baghdad to Kabul "World War IV". Other trustees include the ubiquitous Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Clinton commerce secretary Stuart Eizenstat, and national security adviser Anthony Lake. Freedom House lists USAID, US Information Agency, the Soros Foundations and the National Endowment for Democracy among its financial backers.

One more of the many non-governmental organizations active in promoting the new democracy in Kyrgystan is the Civil Society Against Corruption, financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED which, with Freedom House, has been at the center of all the major color revolutions in recent years, was created during the Ronald Reagan administration to function as a de facto privatized CIA, privatized so as to allow more freedom of action, or what the CIA likes to call "plausible deniability". NED chairman Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman, is close to neo-conservative Bill Bennett. NED president since 1984 is Carl Gershman, who had previously been a Freedom House scholar. NATO General Wesley Clark, the man who led the US bombing of Serbia in 1999, also sits on the NED board. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, said in 1991, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

Not to be forgotten, and definitely not least in Kyrgystan's ongoing "Tulip" revolution is Soros' Open Society Institute - which also poured money into the Serbian, Georgian and Ukraine color revolutions. The head of the Civil Society Against Corruption in Kyrgystan is Tolekan Ismailova, who organized the translation and distribution of the revolutionary manual used in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia written by Gene Sharp, of a curiously named Albert Einstein Institution in Boston. Sharp's book, a how-to manual for the color revolutions, is titled From Dictatorship to Democracy. It includes tips on non-violent resistance - such as "display of flags and symbolic colors" - and civil disobedience.

Sharp's book is literally the bible of the color revolutions, a kind of "regime change for dummies". Sharp created his Albert Einstein Institution in 1983, with backing from Harvard University. It is funded by the US Congress' NED and the Soros Foundations, to train people in and to study the theories of "non-violence as a form of warfare". Sharp has worked with NATO and the CIA over the years training operators in Myanmar, Lithuania, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Taiwan, even Venezuela and Iraq.

In short, virtually every regime which has been the target of a US-backed soft coup in the past 20 years has involved Gene Sharp and usually, his associate, Colonel Robert Helvey, a retired US Army intelligence specialist. Notably, Sharp was in Beijing two weeks before student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Pentagon and US intelligence have refined the art of such soft coups to a fine level. RAND planners call it "swarming", referring to the swarms of youth, typically linked by short message services and weblogs, who can be mobilized on command to destabilize a target regime.

Then Uzbekistan ...?
Uzbekistan's tyrannical President Islam Karimov had early profiled himself as a staunch friend of the Washington "war on terror", offering a former Soviet airbase for US military actions, including the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001. Many considered Karimov too close to Washington to be in danger. He had made himself a "good" tyrant in Washington's eyes.

That's also no longer a sure thing. In May, Rice demanded that Karimov institute "political reforms" following violent prison uprisings and subsequent protests over conditions in the Ferghana Valley region in Andijan. Karimov has fiercely resisted independent inquiry into allegations his troops shot and killed hundreds of unarmed protesters. He insists the uprisings were caused by "external" radical Muslim fundamentalists allied with the Taliban and intent on establishing an Islamic caliphate in Uzbekistan's Ferghana Valley bordering Kyrgystan.

While the ouster of Karimov is unclear for the moment, leading Washington backers of Karimov's "democratic reform" have turned into hostile opponents. As one US commentator expressed it, "The character of the Karimov regime can no longer be ignored in deference to the strategic usefulness of Uzbekistan." Karimov has been targeted for a color revolution in the relentless Washington "war on tyranny".

In mid-June, Karimov's government announced changes in terms for the US to use Uzbekistan's Karshi-Khanabad military airbase, including a ban on night flights. Karimov is moving demonstrably closer to Moscow, and perhaps also to Beijing, in the latest chapter of the new "Great Game" for geopolitical control over Eurasia.

Following the Andijan events, Karimov revived the former "strategic partnership" with Moscow and also received a red-carpet welcome at the end of May in Beijing, including a 21-gun salute. At a June Brussels NATO meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov backed Karimov, declaring there was no need for an international investigation of what happened in Andijan.

Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan and China, is so far the only remaining Central Asian republic not yet to undergo a successful US-led color revolution. It's not for lack of trying. For several years Washington has attempted to woo Dushanbe away from its close ties to Moscow, including the economic carrot of US backing for Tajik membership in the World Trade Organization. Beijing has also been active. China has recently upgraded military assistance to Tajikistan, and is keen to strengthen ties to all Central Asian republics standing between it and the energy resources to the Eurasian west, from Russia to Iran. The stakes are the highest for the oil-dependent China.

Washington playing the China card
The one power in Eurasia that has the potential to create a strategic combination which could checkmate US global dominance is China. However, China has an Achilles' heel, which Washington understands all too well - oil. Ten years ago China was a net oil exporter. Today China is the second-largest importer behind the US.

China's energy demand is growing annually at a rate of more than 30%. China has feverishly been trying to secure long-term oil and gas supplies, especially since the Iraq war made clear to Beijing that Washington was out to control and militarize most of the world's major oil and gas sources. A new wrinkle to the search for black gold, oil, is the clear data confirming that many of the world's largest oilfields are in decline, while new discoveries fail to replace lost volumes of oil. It is a pre-programmed scenario for war. The only question is, with what weapons?

In recent months Beijing has signed major oil and economic deals with Venezuela and Iran. It has bid for a major Canadian resources company, and most recently made the audacious bid to buy California's Unocal, a partner in the Caspian BTC pipeline. Chevron immediately stepped in with a counter bid to block China's.

Beijing has recently also upgraded the importance of the four-year-old organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO. SCO consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. Not surprisingly, these are many of the states which are in the midst of US-backed attempts at soft coups or color revolutions. SCO's July meeting list included an invitation to India, Pakistan and Iran to attend with observer status.

This June, the foreign ministers of Russia, China and India held a meeting in Vladivostock where they stressed the role of the United Nations, a move aimed clearly at Washington. India also discussed its project to invest and develop Russia's Far East Sakhalin I, where it has already invested about $1 billion in oil and gas development. Significantly, at the meeting, Russia and China resolved a decades-long border dispute, and two weeks later in Beijing discussed potentials for development of Russia's Siberian resources.

A close look at the map of Eurasia begins to suggest what is so vital here for China, and therefore for Washington's future domination of Eurasia. The goal is not only strategic encirclement of Russia through a series of NATO bases ranging from Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo to Poland, to Georgia, possibly Ukraine and White Russia, which would enable NATO to control energy ties between Russia and the EU.

Washington policy now encompasses a series of "democratic" or soft coup projects which would strategically cut China off from access to the vital oil and gas reserves of the Caspian, including Kazakhstan. The earlier Asian Great Silk Road trade routes went through Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Almaty in Kazakhstan for geographically obvious reasons, in a region surrounded by major mountain ranges.

Geopolitical control of Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan would enable control of any potential pipeline routes between China and Central Asia, just as the encirclement of Russia allows for the control of pipeline and other ties between it and Western Europe, China, India and the Mideast.

In this context, the revealing Foreign Affairs article from Zbigniew Brzezinski from September/October 1997 is worth again quoting:

Eurasia is home to most of the world's politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world's most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy. After the United States, the next six largest economies and military spenders are there, as are all but one of the world's overt nuclear powers, and all but one of the covert ones. Eurasia accounts for 75% of the world's population, 60% of its GNP [gross national product], and 75% of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's.

Eurasia is the world's axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world's three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy ...

This statement, written well before the US-led bombing of former Yugoslavia and the US occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the BTC pipeline, helps put recent Washington pronouncements about "ridding the world of tyranny" and about spreading democracy into a somewhat different context from the one usually mentioned by Bush.

"Elementary, my dear Watson. It's about global hegemony, not democracy, you fool."

F William Engdahl, author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, from Pluto Press Ltd.

(Copyright 2005 F William Engdahl)

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[There are many new reasons to suspect that the US is losing influence in Central Asia. This is only one of them. - MCR]

China, Russia Call for U.S. to Plan Exit

By Bagila Bukharbayeva
The Associated Press
July 5, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

ASTANA, Kazakhstan - A regional alliance led by China and Russia called Tuesday for the U.S. and its coalition allies in Afghanistan to set a date for withdrawing from several states in Central Asia, reflecting growing unease at America's military presence in the region.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, urged a deadline be set for withdrawal of the foreign forces from its member states in light of what it said was a decline in active fighting in Afghanistan.

The alliance's move appeared to be an attempt to push the United States out of a region that Moscow regards as historically part of its sphere of influence and in which China seeks a dominant role because of its extensive energy resources.

The United States rejected the call for a deadline. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. military presence "is determined by the terms of our bilateral agreements, under which both countries have concluded that there is a benefit to both sides from our activities."

At the Defense Department, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said that regarding U.S. bases in Uzbekistan, "it's a decision the Uzbek government has to make as to whether or not we would continue to operate from that."

U.S-led military forces have been deployed at air bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to back up the anti-terrorist campaign in neighboring Afghanistan.

According to the U.S military, Uzbekistan hosts at least 800 U.S. troops, while 1,200 U.S.-led troops are in Kyrgyzstan.

Tajikistan has allowed the French air force to use Dushanbe airport since 2001 as a base for logistical support to its troops in Afghanistan. Some 200 French air force personnel are based there.

"We support and will support the international coalition, which is carrying out an anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan, and we have taken note of the progress made in the effort to stabilize the situation," the SCO said in a declaration at a summit in the Kazakh capital.

"As the active military phase in the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan is nearing completion, the SCO would like the coalition's members to decide on the deadline for the use of the temporary infrastructure and for their military contingents' presence in those countries," it said.

A Kremlin foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, said the group had not demanded an immediate withdrawal. But he added it was "important for the SCO members to know when the (U.S.) troops will go home."

The Kremlin did not object when Uzbeks and Kyrgyz agreed to host U.S. troops.

However, Moscow's suspicion of the West has increased recently amid speculation the United States is encouraging the overthrow of Central Asia's pro-Russian authoritarian governments.

Earlier Tuesday, SCO leaders accused unnamed outside forces of trying to destabilize Central Asia.

The summit followed the violently suppressed uprising in eastern Uzbekistan in May and turmoil in Kyrgyzstan in March when demonstrators stormed the administration's offices and sent the president fleeing into exile.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao said at the summit he believed "the fate of Central Asian countries is in their own hands and they are wise and capable enough to sort out their domestic problems on their own."

The leaders vowed to step up security cooperation in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said "new regional threats are of a trans-border nature ... There are people who place orders and execute them. Our task is to find them and render them harmless and also to prevent their activity."

Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan, said some outside forces were joining radical Islamists "to create instability and undermine the region economically in order to impose their own development model."

Uzbekistan was widely denounced abroad for the harsh suppression of the May uprising in the city of Andijan _ in which Uzbek authorities say 176 people died but rights activists say as many as 750 may have been killed.

Karimov put restrictions on the U.S air base in Uzbekistan after Washington joined calls by other Western nations for an international probe into the Andijan massacre.

However, Russia and China expressed support for Uzbek authorities at the time.

Iran, India and Pakistan joined the SCO Tuesday as observers. If they become fully fledged members, the group will represent half the world's population.

Russia in particular in recent years has pushed for what it calls a "multipolar" world, seeking to balance alleged U.S. domination of foreign policy issues.

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China, Russia warn of world domination

By Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press Writer

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

MOSCOW - Russia and China warned other nations Friday against attempts to dominate global affairs and interfere in the domestic issues of sovereign nations in what appeared to be a veiled expression of their irritation with U.S. policy.

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao signed a joint declaration after two days of talks calling for a stronger United Nations role in global affairs and opposing attempts "to impose models of social and political development from outside."

The two leaders also urged other states to renounce "striving for monopoly and domination in international affairs and attempts to divide nations into leaders and those being led."

While the declaration did not identify any specific country, it echoed similar veiled hints by Moscow and Beijing about U.S. policy in global affairs.

After decades of rivalry, Moscow and Beijing have developed what they call a strategic partnership since the 1991 Soviet collapse, pledging their adherence to a "multipolar world," a term that refers to their opposition to U.S. domination.

China and Russia share a concern about increased U.S. influence in Central Asia since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which led to American troop deployments in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan for operations in neighboring Afghanistan.

While Russia remains a U.S. ally in fighting terror, relations often have been strained by U.S. concerns about backtracking on democracy under Putin and Moscow's worries about what it sees as U.S. meddling in ex-Soviet republics. Russia also bristles at western calls for peace talks with rebels in Chechnya.

Beijing is unhappy about U.S. ties with Taiwan. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and says the island has no right to conduct foreign relations.

"We reinforced our mutual support on key issues like Taiwan and Chechnya which concern our vital interests," Hu said after the talks.

The two leaders gave an upbeat assessment on Russian-Chinese relations, which have flourished in recent years and were cemented in a border treaty ratified this year.

"We have set a solid foundation for friendship, trust and cooperation for Russia and China for a long time to come," Putin said Friday.

Moscow and Beijing dominate the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security grouping that also includes the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, facing Western criticism for his government's bloody suppression of a May uprising, has found staunch support in Moscow and Beijing.

After their meetings in Moscow, Putin and Hu were due to meet again Tuesday at the SCO summit in Kazakhstan.

"We are increasing coordination and cooperation on important regional and international issues, such as guaranteeing stability in Central Asia, the SCO, reform of the United Nations and the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula," Hu said.

The Russian and Chinese militaries are due to hold their first joint maneuvers later this year - which some observers have seen as Russia's response to cooling relations with the U.S. and other Western nations.

China has purchased billions of dollars worth of fighters, missiles, submarines and destroyers after the Soviet collapse, becoming the main customer for struggling Russian defense industries.

Now it is eager to tap into Russian oil and gas to fuel its booming economy, and has lobbied hard for priority access over Japan to an oil pipeline carrying Siberian crude to Asian markets.

Russian-Chinese trade amounted to about $20 billion last year, and Hu told the ITAR-Tass news agency that it could reach between $60 billion and $80 billion by 2010.

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Russia, Mexico Talk Up LNG

By Valeria Korchagina Staff Writer
Itar-Tass / Reuters
June 22, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Russia and Mexico plan to work on boosting cooperation, focusing particularly on energy, President Vladimir Putin and his Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, said Tuesday in Moscow.

Fox is on the first state visit to Russia by a Mexican president since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

While Mexico and Russia are both major world oil producers, Russia has long eyed Mexico as a potential customer for yet to be produced liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

"I am pleased to note that the LNG from Sakhalin Island will be sent to the Mexican coast, and some of this LNG will be destined for your country," Putin told Fox on Tuesday during a meeting in the Kremlin, according to the Kremlin web site.

Mexico is among the potential customers for LNG from a plant to be built by Sakhalin Energy, the Royal Dutch/Shell-led consortium that operates the Sakhalin-2 project under a production-sharing agreement.

Last year, Sakhalin Energy said it would ship 37 million tons of LNG from Sakhalin Island fields on Russia's Pacific Coast to Mexico over a period of 20 years, starting in 2008.

"We discussed a 20-year agreement on the supply of liquefied gas to Mexico, which will be refined at four facilities that need to be built," Fox said at a news conference Tuesday.

LNG sales to Mexico and the U.S. Pacific coast are set to be worth a total of $6 billion, according to Sakhalin Energy. Royal Dutch/Shell subsidiary Shell Eastern Trading plans to buy the LNG from early 2008 to supply the new Energia Costa Azul electricity plant in Mexico, with peak supplies reaching 1.6 million tons per year.

The LNG plant under construction on the southern tip of Sakhalin Island will be Russia's first. The entire Sakhalin-2 project, which also involves oil production, has recoverable reserves of 150 million tons of oil and 500 billion cubic meters of gas.

Another major buyer of Sakhalin Energy's LNG is slated to be energy-hungry Japan, which is expected to purchase at least 3.4 million tons of LNG per year.

On Tuesday, the Russian and Mexican energy ministries signed a memorandum on energy cooperation.

Despite the fact that Russia is yet to build a single LNG plant or port capable of handling the super-cooled gas, international interest in Russia's LNG projects is growing fast. The potential of the Sakhalin shelf and the Gazprom-controlled Shtokman fields in the Arctic has attracted the interest of most of the world's largest energy consumers.

Among the eager potential buyers of Russia's LNG, once it arrives, are the United States, which expects to import up to 100 bcm of natural gas by 2020 under a plan to boost its share of gas in domestic fuel consumption.

On Monday, in the presence of Norway's prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, and oil and energy minister, Thorhild Widvey, Russia and Norway signed an energy cooperation deal.

Norwegian oil and gas majors Statoil and Norsk Hydro appear to be particularly interested in securing a role in developing the giant Shtokman fields, which have an estimated 3.2 trillion bcm in gas reserves.

Over the past year, Gazprom has been courting the world's leading oil majors over developing Shtokman, but the final choice of strategic partners has yet to be announced.

Putin on Tuesday said that Russia could also cooperate with Mexico by supplying nuclear fuel to Mexican nuclear power stations and by helping develop hydroelectric power production in Mexico.

Fox said that Mexico was interested in Russia taking part in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, another key area for offshore oil and gas exploration.

Fox's visit to Russia comes as part of a regional tour covering a number of former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, with a large delegation of Mexican business leaders.

Copyright 2005 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.

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