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“Multiple-vector” policy Is about To finish at Caspian Sea
20.03.2012 12:56 Alexander Knyazev, Senior Scientific Researcher in Institute of Oriental Studies RAS

The modern world came into an age of international disintegration and quickly moves away of not yet fully developed mono-polar world towards the polar-free world, where the power is distributed to multiple more or less equal to each other centers. It is difficult to say how long this tendency will prevail. However the fact of instability of polarfree world is quite obvious and sooner or later it will be replaced by new bipolar or multicenter world order.

Frameworks of international processes

Spheres of influence of powers and satellite countries have always been and will remain factors of international life. New realities of rapidly transforming world system of international relations are simple reducing of area for possible maneuvering of political elites of post-Soviet limitrophes in their foreign policy planning. This was clearly defined by actions of Russia in Caucasus in August of 2008 and this was the first of frameworks, which made to question the possibility of continuation of the policy of wide maneuvering, which is understood under the name of “multiple-vectors”. Situation of conflict between the global players is the field where the further development of regional subsystem of international relations will take place.

The second of the necessary frameworks is that in order to define foreign strategy, which meets true national interests, each country of the region needs an objective and profound estimation of present region interests of each of external players under conditions of destruction of the international law and degradation of international institutes, whether involved in implementation of political plans of individual states (UN) or turned out to be tools for intervention in affairs of sovereign states (OSCE). Let us admit that cases of artificial separation of Yugoslavia as well as recognition of independence of Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the way things happen in Libya and Syria mean that: International law, which initially contained contradiction of two concepts like principle of territorial integrity and principle of self-determination can no longer play a role of legal regulator of international relations. There is no guarantee that cases of redrawing of the borders and recognition of various separatist projects would be reproduced in any region of the world including Central Asia and Caucasus.

The third and the main of the frameworks, which will define the development without exceptions of all international processes in the nearest future. The known dichotomy “North-South” is overlapped by a new, related to increasing of global competition of world’s centers of power for resources in general and energy resources in particular. The modern global financial crisis simultaneously means exacerbation of crisis of the classic liberal democracy. Globalization resulted in final devaluation of all universal projects of the century of modern like liberal-democratic, socialist, etc. Reality of near-term prospect is a world consisting of competing totalitarian and authoritarian regimes under conditions of struggle with system wide collapses of the capitalism. As we know, every global crisis ends up in global war for reconstruction and re-division of the world. Thus, the defined triad of the crisis has been concluded with inevitable struggle for access to energy and other strategy resources.

Resource potential and general potential of development in the world is not growing but diminishing, ergo the competition between the leading centers of power is escalating. Such competition through various means like globalization, regionalization and establishing of blocks creates new configuration of balance of power and interests between the great powers. There are some so far semi-official appeals in the West to make the military political alliance NATO responsible for access of its member states to the foreign resources and even for access of the companies of such countries to the investments and control over such resources. Inevitably, corporative states will be involved into conflicts including military ones with each other as well as with countries, which determined to keep their resource potential. Under conditions of growing shortage of energy products, import dependant states of the “North” will inevitably face the task of getting more reliably guarantees of supplies than ordinary market contracts, which can be solved in only one way like arguing the national sovereignty of the exporter countries through the use of force. There is no wonder that by the end of 20th century the character of wars and conflicts has changed. Wars for the territories and wars between states were replaced by conflicts with high degree of intervention of the external factor. These are conflicts with external influence, peacekeeping operations and cross-national border conflicts with international task forces, “humanitarian” interventions, etc. It is they that become the most efficient tool of desovereignization of national states having some kind of resources.

Central Asia including Caspian Sea is one of the regions, which have hydrocarbon resources although its potential quite often exaggerated. Nevertheless it is sufficient for turning of the region into one of the places of application of global conflicts of the nearest future and into one of the areas of global confrontation. Rapidly growing international polarization is geopolitical reality independent of declarations of public politique. Admitting of these and some other geoeconomic and geopolitical realities places in agenda the necessity for fundamental change in national concepts of foreign policy of developing and not yet established countries, which without hesitation relates to countries of Central Asian and Caucasus regions.

Something about commercial interests of uS administration

Before signing of major contracts on supplies of crude oil between USA and Kazakhstan in 1993 – 1994 Central Asia was not considered as a region of economic importance. In 1997 the deputy US Secretary of State on that time Strobe Talbott has formulated basic ideas on vital strategic interests of the USA in Central Asia. It was commercial interest of American oil companies in recovery of hydrocarbon deposits that generated specific essentially geoeconomic interest of US administration in the region.

Implementation of strategic targets of USA in Central and South Asia is aimed at ensuring of longterm military and political presence in the region, where besides interests of oil and gas corporations there is a huge conflict generating potential. Skillful management of such potential could provide USA with the status of the “only superpower”. Neutralization of Russia and China, turning the Iran into object of American policy, consideration of certain interests of the regional allies like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as involvement of India into this circle are main components of proposed regional order.

The Caspian region is mostly considered as merely reserve deposit of hydrocarbons of strategic significance. USA is interested in taking of control over the resources and in their preservation for the future rather than in their recovery. Caspian oil can become more significant in case of reduction in oil recovery in some other part of the world due to political reasons. Within the framework of US National Energy Strategy (CNES) organization of energy system alternative to Persian Gulf is key factor in establishment of an American control over world’s “energy balance”. Within the scope of ling-term planning it is proposed to establish a direct control over hydrocarbon reserves of Central Asian region and prevent disposal of the resources by the countries, which USA consider as their strategic opponents and competitors.

In 1991 – 1992, it was interest in energy resources that became one of the factors of development of the «Taliban» project by American secret services in cooperation with ISI of Pakistan, General intelligence sevice of Saudi Arabia and British MI-6. Work over establishment of controllable power in Afghanistan, which could ensure construction of Tran Afghan Gas line (TAG or TAPI, Turkmenistan - Afghanistan – Pakistan – India) in the interests of Unocal, a bosom friend of Clinton’s administration. However, approximately to 1998-1999 inability of the alliance of secret cervices to control the established power became clear as well as inability of Taliban itself to unite and control the country. Project “Taliban” has been deactivated and development of a new project under the facultative title of “fighting with international terrorism” has begun. From that moment, positioning of the “Taliban” changed inversely and a highly demonized person of Osama bin Laden became the key figure in information accompaniment of American foreign political operations. Bombing of mujahidin camps in August 1998 became the first sign of changing in US tactics in Afghanistan.

Failure in using of the Taliban in the interests of campaigns has brought the geostrategic interests to the fore. Adoption by the Congress of a law on strategy of the “Silk way” in May of 1999 made an additional emphasis on importance of complex achievement of geostrategic and geoeconomic targets of USA in Central Asia.

 Iran, Russia and militarization of the Caspian region

One should review that way of the happening for all post-Soviet period (and ongoing) militarization of the Caspian region with support of the USA.

Issue of foreign (non-Caspian) presence in Caspian Sea was formally defined for the present time by the decision of Caspian summit of head of the states in Baku in November of 2010. In accordance with the agreement signed at this summit by the heads of all five states, “ensuring of security on Caspian Sea is a prerogative of Caspian bordering countries”.

Position of Iran on Caspian Sea has more geopolitical meaning than it was defined by economic factors. Iran’s main oil and gas fields are located in southern and western parts of the country and Iran does not explore Caspian shelf plate and still actively refuses any propositions to begin geologic exploration on the Caspian Sea. Position of Iran can only be influenced by international situation around this country. In solving of issues of status Caspian Sea Russia together with Iran is governed by the security matters insisting on inclusion of provision of impermissibility of the occurrence of the third parties in the region to the Convention. This approach is not devoid of reasons in the context of ongoing discussions on scenarios of possible NATO extension on the account of some post-Soviet countries and US striving for expansion of its presence. At the Baku’s summit, Russian president has made clear that if countries of the region will loose their interaction at the some moment of time, there is no doubt that there would be other countries, which have no connection to the Caspian Sea but wish to solve Caspian issues and having an “interest in being here for meeting of their own economic and political ojectives”. This speech was primarily addressed to Azerbaijan, which has most close military and naval cooperation with USA and NATO among the other Caspian bordering countries.

The general tendency of global development is withdrawal from globalization towards regionalization, which means that countries of the region should manage their processes by themselves excluding external out-of-region influence. Baku and Ashkhabad lacks such understanding. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are also weak links of Caspian process. Besides the fact that their positions on the construction of Trans Caspian Pipeline contradicts to the multilateral agreements signed by those countries, it is pragmatically up-to-the-minute and conflictogenic. Speeches of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan politicians and experts are give evidence of certain readiness of those two parties to the conflict on Caspian Sea provided that they will get support from USA and EC. However, all the parties involved in the Caspian conflict have understanding of the fact that one of the objectives of American infiltration in the region is to establish a launching ground for strike on the Iran. According to the words of Azerbaijan military expert Uzeir Dzhafarov, officials in Baku clearly realize the consequences of this strike. “If we allow some serious steps towards this country then Azerbaijan will face certain problems and difficulties. However there is a good opportunity for cooperation between USA and Azerbaijan on Caspian Sea”, stated Dzhafarov. According to his statement, Iran and Russia are interested in the absence of the third parties in the Caspian region, but “if the Americans will be actively support Azerbaijan then Russia will be left with no other choice but accept the state of things”. However, if Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan will launch construction of Trans Caspian Pipeline we cannot disregard instant activation of military and diversionary activities of Iran and possibly Russia, i.e. turning of so far diplomatic activities into military plane.

Russian military potential on the Caspian Sea, which is superior to the other Caspian countries put together deprives them of the ability to hold any initiative policy in the region. Concurrence of principle geopolitic interests of Russia and Iran combined with realistic policy of Kazakhstan makes a curious configuration of potential conflict.

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