by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)
A pacified Syria is key to the economic integration of Eurasia through energy and transportation connections
Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani will hold a summit this Wednesday in Sochi to discuss Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the three power players at the Astana negotiations – where multiple cease-fires, as hard to implement as they are, at least evolve, slowly but surely, towards the ultimate target – a political settlement.
A stable Syria is crucial to all parties involved in Eurasia integration. As Asia Times reported, China has made it clear that a pacified Syria will eventually become a hub of the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – building on the previous business bonanza of legions of small traders commuting between Yiwu and the Levant.
Away from intractable war and peace issues, it’s even more enlightening to observe how Turkey, Iran and Russia are playing their overlapping versions of Eurasia economic integration and/or BRI-related business.
Much has to do with the energy/transportation connectivity between railway networks – and, further on the down the road, high-speed rail – and what I have described, since the early 2000s, as Pipelineistan.
The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a deal brokered in person in Baku by the late Dr Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, was a major energy/geopolitical coup by the Clinton administration, laying out an umbilical steel cord between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
Now comes the Baku-Tblisi-Kars (BTK) railway – inaugurated with great fanfare by Erdogan alongside Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, but also crucially Kazakh Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev and Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov. After all, this is about the integration of the Caucasus with Central Asia.
Erdogan actually went further: BTK is “an important chain in the New Silk Road, which aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe.” The new transportation corridor is configured as an important Eurasian hub linking not only the Caucasus with Central Asia but also, in the Big Picture, the EU with Western China.
BTK is just the beginning, considering the long-term strategy of Chinese-built high-speed rail from Xinjiang across Central Asia all the way to Iran, Turkey, and of course, the dream destination: the EU. Erdogan can clearly see how Turkey is strategically positioned to profit from it.
Of course, BTK is not a panacea. Other connectivity points between Iran and Turkey will spring up, and other key BRI interconnectors will pick up speed in the next few years, such as the Eurasian Land Bridge across the revamped Trans-Siberian and an icy version of the Maritime Silk Road: the Northern Sea Route across the Arctic.
What’s particularly interesting in the BTK case is the Pipelineistan interconnection with the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP), bringing natural gas from the massive Azeri gas field Shah Deniz-2 to Turkey and eventually the EU.
Turkish analyst Cemil Ertem stresses, “just like TANAP, the BTK Railway not only connects three countries, but also is one of the main trade and transport routes in Asia and Europe, and particularly Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ports. It connects Central Asia to Turkey with the Marmaray project in Istanbul and via the Caspian region. Along with the Southern Gas Corridor, which constitutes TANAP’s backbone, it will also connect ports on the South China Sea to Europe via Turkey.”
It’s no wonder BTK has been met with ecstatic reception across Turkey – or, should we say, what used to be known as Asia Minor. It does spell out, graphically, Ankara’s pivoting to the East (as in increasing trade with China) as well as a new step in the extremely complex strategic interdependence between Ankara and Moscow; the Central Asian “stans”, after all, fall into Russia’s historical sphere of influence.
Add to it the (pending) Russian sale of the S-400 missile defense system to Ankara, and the Russian and Chinese interest in having Turkey as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
From IPI to IP and then II
Now compare the BTK coup with one of Pipelineistan’s trademark cliff-hanging soap operas; the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India), previously dubbed “the peace pipeline”.
IPI originally was supposed to link southeastern Iran with northern India across Balochistan, via the Pakistani port of Gwadar (now a key hub of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC). The Bush and Obama administrations did everything to prevent IPI from ever being built, betting instead on the rival TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) – which would actually traverse a war zone east of Herat, Afghanistan.
TAPI might eventually be built – even with the Taliban being denied their cut (that was exactly the contention 20 years ago with the first Clinton administration: transit rights). Lately, Russia stepped up its game, with Gazprom seducing India into becoming a partner in TAPI’s construction.
But then came the recent announcement by Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak: Moscow and Tehran will sign a memorandum of understanding to build a 1,200km gas pipeline from Iran to India; call it II. And Gazprom, in parallel, will invest in unexplored Iranian gas fields along the route.
Apart from the fact of a major win for Gazprom – expanding its reach towards South Asia – the clincher is the project won’t be the original IPI (actually IP), where Iran already built the stretch up to the border and offered help for Islamabad to build its own stretch; a move that would be plagued by US sanctions. The Gazprom project will be an underwater pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean.
From New Delhi’s point of view, this is the ultimate win-win. TAPI remains a nightmarish proposition, and India needs all the gas it can get, fast. Assuming the new Trump administration “Indo-Pacific” rhetoric holds, New Delhi is confident it won’t be slapped with sanctions because it’s doing business with both Iran and Russia.
And then there was another key development coming out of Putin’s recent visit to Tehran: the idea – straight out of BRI – of building a rail link between St. Petersburg (on the Baltic) and Chabahar port close to the Persian Gulf. Chabahar happens to be the key hub of India’s answer to BRI: a maritime trade link to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan, and connected to the North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), of which Iran, India and Russia are key members alongside Caucasus and Central Asian nations.
You don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows across Eurasia; integration, all the way.
Meanwhile in Europe,
Wilders defends Russia, speaks out against ‘Russophobia’ – NL Times
Apparently 98% of eu politicians support the other side in Syria, the crazied wahabbi warriors.
The majority of EU politicians are one thing (paid CIA puppets acting against European interests) and the peoples of the EU are quite another: less and less do the twain meet.
As the English geographer Halford Mackinder stated in the late 19th century, an economic alliance between Germany and Russia would create the most powerful economic block in the world. He was ofcourse referring to Eurasia. His writings were picked up by Brzezinski, who warned of the economic importance of Eurasia and the danger it presented to Wall Street and the US. We now have the emergence of the Eurasian Economic Union, which Washington wants to prevent at any cost. Trump has sent the US Navy to the North Korean coast. North Korea is not the issue, but the fact that it has borders with both China and Russia, which the US wants to control. I am not sure what the US Navy was intending to do with North Korea, but if the intention was to bully it into submission, it has failed. Iran is the second crisis point, as it would be an important element of the Eurasian Economic Union. Turkey has now set it’s eyes towards the East, and it’s only a matter of time before it leaves NATO. It is also a matter of time before Europe joins the Union. Washington’s plans in Syria have been defeated. Assad has not been overthrown. As I have written before, Washington is having a tough time accepting reality, and it is doubtful if it really knows what it has to do on the international scene. Worse, Washington’s allies are losing trust. In 2018 we have presidential elections in Russia. If Washington thinks it can stage some sort of color revolution in Moscow using NGO’s, it is sadly mistaken. I have seen some of those NGO candidates. They made some silly choices, applying the American mentality in Russia by backing women, one a TV personality and the other a singer. Both are parroting silly scripts given to them by NGO’s, which will only make people laugh. There is no way Putin will lose, even though NGO’s will cause some street trouble, like busing into Moscow “demonstrators” from all over Russia to give the impression of “massive” Moscow “demonstrations” against Putin, whose importance will be blown out of proportion by the Western media. Washington better grasp the fact that Putin is reality and so is the upcoming Eurasian Economic Union. Unfortunately Wall Street will be incapable of accepting this reality, pushing Washington into doing something stupid. I sincerely hope it will not.
Good one. This:
is a summation of the basic premise of Mackinder’s ‘world island’ concept that you refer to. Mackinder’s 1904 objective view of the world resources and population centers has, indeed, formed the basis of all Anglo geopolitical decisions since – the permanent division and disruption of the land peoples by the sea peoples. ‘Sir Halford Invents Geopolitics’ onward covers the topic.
It is a great article as a whole. It summarises how and why the New Silk Road or BRI threatens and will break this historical relic, and the US with it. Escobar’s coverage about this creeping geopolitical shift flows from this knowledge. Almost everything we talk about on this blog falls into place once you read this article.
Pepe nails some of the most crucial projects of BRI.
Connectivity—pipelines, rail lines, fiber optic lines, highways, airports, seaports, nexus depots are the infrastructure projects for development, growth, wealth sharing, investment, and the triumph of Eurasia against the Hegemon.
4.5 billion will be lifted from 19th Century poverty to a place in the 21st Century.
Four great civilizations working out their future without the menace of domination by the degenerate bankers and bloodsuckers of the West.
Last sentence nails it;-)
I’m still wondering how the Eurasians expect to protect and keep open a thin tube of pressurized, highly flammable gas/oil when the Empire of Chaos and its henchmen are against it. Seems very wishful to me. What am I missing?
It’s a long thin tube, to make any significant impact on the whole installation a saboteur would have to take out many kilometers of it or cause many simultaneous breaches.
Or, one new place every few hours. Judging from the prevailing conditions in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghan, Gaza and Yemen, this seems very doable. Pipeline is a great idea, but it still looks like a lost cause as things now stand.
Gee, I think we all ought to give up on the whole idea.
There, now, feeling better?
Well, we maybe should at least examine our assumptions. For someone who pretends the identity of a renown thinker and statesman, your reaction is very, shall we say, simple-minded?
1) You seem to imply that the countries involved in this project will be unable to protect their investment. I don’t agree. The severed heads in the future will be those standing in the way of this project.
2) All the “terrorists” who over the past decades grew up with no future, and who gravitated to destruction will see that there is a future for their region(s) and I believe orient their children toward the construction of that future, as well as the business it will create. We have seen a generation of angry fanatical young men fighting what they see as injustice imposed by western “infidels”. That argument goes away when building a future based on Asia.
The Grand Strategic/Moral level of warfare and that the gods punish moral retards for the sin of hubris.
You’re missing the fact that nations and their security forces know a lot about what’s happening in their own country. You’re missing satellite and drone surveillance, border patrols, special forces, the entire security state, and the fact that saboteurs of infrastructure have to move physically in order to create damage. Saboteurs have to get in and get out after the alarms have already triggered.
You’re also missing the fact that the US has lost everywhere it’s gone up against forces of even halfway decent competence, and that in fact the capability of US executive force is looking less and less competent every day.
You’re missing the UN and the fact that a team of wreckers might pull off a piece of vandalism occasionally, but soon enough the regular forces of police detection, intelligence and forensic investigation will identify individuals, and very quickly someone will be taken alive, the trail back to the principals will be established, etc. International incidents lead to global crises and the threat of war.
You’re missing the fact that actions have consequences and crime has punishment, and that the multi-polar world increases in power every day towards the point that it can exact that punishment on the unipolar world for breaking laws.
In short, you’re missing the mechanisms of order that prevail in this world, vastly more than the mechanisms of disorder. Otherwise, there would be no electricity, water, medicine, law – the list goes on and on. You’re also missing the fact that too much lawlessness will degrade an entire system and turn and bite its perpetrators very quickly.
Nations have threatened to wreck pipelines for more than 100 years – since oil became valuable to navies and nations. But in practice it doesn’t happen much. To wreck a pipeline you have to own the territory, either with proxy armies like ISIS or with puppet governments. And as we’ve seen recently, when you control the oilfield or pipeline you don’t wreck it, you sell it. Pipelines are for stealing, not for destroying.
At root, the western Hollywood notion that rugged individuals can perform great feats is essentially childish comic-book fantasy. In practice it takes cooperation and working together to get things done.
The idea that a force of history as massive as the rise of Eurasia can be held back by pinpoint spoiling actions is facile. It’s exactly the idea that US actions are based on – and they are failing every day, producing exactly the opposite results, simply because they are exactly wrong.
Since you asked.
Thanks! That’s a good analysis!
You may be missing the storage tanks that will be built at intervals along the pipelines. If a terrorist breaks a pipe, the tanks will keep the gas flowing until the pipeline is repaired. So blowing up a section of a pipeline is really rather pointless, as there will be little or no interruption in service.
As a youngster I read about the travels of Marco Polo. Why were the travels of a Venetian Merchant so important to ‘English’ history? It was all about trade. Then we had the Portuguese move into India, to be taken over by the Dutch East India Company which transformed almost overnight into the British East India company, and suddenly the ‘English’ merchants became rich. The Iranian Jew Sassoon linked up with the British East India company and started importing Opium into China, which resulted in the Opium wars sometimes referred to as the ‘Boxer Rebellion’.
The British built their ‘Royal Navy’ to ‘Rule the waves’ and protect the clippers plying that trade. Trade with the American colonies also created ‘profits’ for the ‘English’ merchants, and wars with the French in America were simply a means of protecting that profit. Much the same as the future James 2nd bombarding New Amsterdam, which subsequently became New York, but the Jewish Merchants there continued their trade.
In 1849 gold was discovered in California, the richest deposits known at that time. The Bank of England couldn’t let that go without a fight. Gold had previously been found in the penal colony of New South Wales, but was hushed up as the British government didn’t want that gold falling into convict hands, but with the gold rushes of 1849 all heading to California, the Bank of England required another strategy and thus John Hargreaves ‘discovered’ gold in New South Wales in 1856.
Then gold was discovered in ‘The Orange Free State’, the largest known deposit of gold ever, and the Bank of England was not about to let anybody else, especially Germany get control of that gold, and so we have the ‘Boer Wars’ where the British invented the use of ‘Concentration Camps’.
All of that is history, but what it tells us is that all of these wars were about profit for the English Bankers. Again those bankers, in England or in New York or in Germany or Basle are not about to let any Johnny come lately steal ‘their’ profits, and they will create wars to protect those interests. Furthermore, those very same bankers are aware that profits can also be made in the reparations after the wars, so believe me, when they see people endeavour to escape from their tyranny they will resist to the utmost. Just remember what they did to Libya.
And Yes, I am certain that China, especially. knows as does Turkey, Russia, and every other country is aware of this situation. If you want freedom from the bankers you must be prepared to fight and die for it. The wars will come!
There’s a very good reason real geniuses like Henry Ford said “All history is bunk.”!
He not only had high contacts of equally brilliant minds to call upon, but each of them could see through the BS better than 99.9% at least.
This book out a few years ago has specific claims about the return of the Chinese to the ‘New World’, with their knowledge likely saved in old libraries. They were returning a few generations after a catastrophic cataclysm, perhaps worldwide, of some kind that forced them to return home under emperor’s orders. That is in their own records.
His thesis in both works is based on the seven (historically undisputed) voyages undertaken by a large Chinese sailing fleet between 1405 and 1433; while it is known that they traveled as far as east Africa, Menzies believes that they landed in Italy and sent a delegation to the Council of Venice, held in Florence in 1439.
As to Columbus, lots info out now explaining the impossible inconsistencies in the official account of who he was, why as a renegade italian he sailed for a Spanish queen, & why anyone would denegrate their own legacy by passing on naming these new lands after the FIRST name yet of a lower rank on the very ship he is the captain.
Columbus aka pedro madruga count of spain/galacia. many names given by this mythical columbus to newly discovered islands are clearly spanish names!
Same ridiculous transposition has been known for decades now, but still few, about the mythical ‘William Shakespeare’ as we’ve been told.Tracing back the clues, it is obvious who he was then in real life.
America is an ancient name, going back minimum thousands of years found in ancient lore, means ‘land of serpents’. fully explains the church’s zeal in directly aiding in stamping out these evil ‘serpents’ aka pagan residents. They had plenty of experience in this…remember the Cathars of France & the albigensian crusade of the early 1200’s?
Researchers like Michael Tsarion have been on this route for near 30 years.
The best history lesson on a couple of key aspects of the rise & rise of Zion I have come across in a long time. Superb, ASMC!
I hope to see more of your deep-rooted understanding of the well camouflaged undercurrents that have shaped the Western world in the future here at Saker’s.
And yes, the wars will come. But their outcome is not a forgone conclusion, anymore. Cheers.
There was a report last year that India was irked by Iran welcoming Chinese and the Pakistanis to have a stake in Chabahar port. I don’t know what happened after that but all subsequent reports indicate that India is the sole player in Chabahar port now. India was not pleased with the invitation by the Persians to the Chinese and Pakistanis since for India, Chabahar port was meant to be a counter to the Pakistani Gadwar port operated by Pakistan and China. Another report from a Pakistani site mentioned that India was planing to place military hardware on Chabahar port to monitor the increasing Chinese presence but that report seemed to be biased. There were also deep differences between India and Iran related to some oil extraction deal with everyone blaming Iran.
Roving reporter Pepe Escobar has been in overdrive recently. And once again, he displays his superior pattern recognition skills paired with elegance and humor to stunning effect in this short piece. Respect!
More countries are jumping on the party boat as America is becoming more and more isolated. More and more, our politicians and so called pundits are being exposed as amoral sexual predators, liars, crooks, intellectually deprived hooligans. This country, not unlike Europe, is being controlled and manipulated, against the greater interests and good of the all, by a small group of criminals. They are inundating our streets and schools with drugs, amorality, substandard education, self hate, insecurity, poor, if any, medical care. How long will the silent majority tolerate this? How long will the common good allow itself to be drawn into wars, watching their children, parents, relatives die for the profit of the few? As I have said before, and many times, the modus operandi of the neocons is to divide and conquer. However, forewarned is to be forearmed and the world is no longer easily gulled by these neocons who will resort to anything, especially war and terrorist acts, and false flags, to maintain their power. My guess is that they will crash the economy, hoping that this would set off a chain of violence and possibly a nationwide revolt, a revolution. Sounds implausible, improbable, ask the Europeans who seem to be easily manipulated and driven to war. There is no option for America; either join the party or drown. Heard lately about the Wasserman Schultz spy ring and scandal, the Las Vegas massacre, the NYC killings, the Texas massacre? Of course not- all false flags committed by domestic terrorists, most likely antifa which is controlled by the neocons.