Players unite and face off so fast Eurasian integration’s chessboard feels like musical chairs prestissimo
by Pepe Escobar for the Saker Blog and cross-posted with Asia Times
The Eurasian chessboard is in non-stop motion at dizzying speed.
After the Afghanistan shock, we’re all aware of the progressive interconnection of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and of the preeminent roles played by Russia, China and Iran. These are the pillars of the New Great Game.
Let’s now focus on some relatively overlooked but no less important aspects of the game – ranging from the South Caucasus to Central Asia.
Iran under the new Raisi administration is now on the path of increased trade and economic integration with the EAEU, after its admission as a full member of the SCO. Tehran’s “Go East” pivot implies strengthened political security as well as food security.
That’s where the Caspian Sea plays a key role – as inter-Caspian sea trade routes completely bypass American sanctions or blockade attempts.
An inevitable consequence, medium to long term, is that Iran’s renewed strategic security anchored in the Caspian will also extend to and bring benefits to Afghanistan, which borders two of the five Caspian neighbors: Iran and Turkmenistan.
The ongoing Eurasian integration process features a Trans-Caspian corridor as a key node, from Xinjiang in China across Central Asia, then Turkey, all the way to Eastern Europe. The corridor is a work in progress.
Some of it is being conducted by CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), which strategically includes China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the five Central Asian “stans” and Afghanistan. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) coordinates the secretariat.
CAREC is not a Chinese-driven Belt and Road and Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) body. Yet the Chinese do interact constructively with the Western-leaning, Manila-based ADB.
Belt and Road is developing its own corridors via the Central Asian “stans” and especially all the way to Iran, now strategically linked to China via the long-term, $400 billion energy-and-development deal.
Practically, the Trans-Caspian will run in parallel to and will be complementary to the existing BRI corridors – where we have, for instance, German auto industry components loading cargo trains in the Trans-Siberian bound all the way to joint ventures in China while Foxconn and HP’s laptops and printers made in Chongqing travel the other way to Western Europe.
The Caspian Sea is becoming a key Eurasian trade player since its status was finally defined in 2018 in Aktau, in Kazakhstan. After all, the Caspian is a major crossroads simultaneously connecting Central Asia and the South Caucasus, Central Asia and West Asia, and northern and southern Eurasia.
It’s a strategic neighbor to the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) – which includes Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and India –while also connecting Belt and Road and the EAEU.
Watch the Turkic Council
All of the above interactions are routinely discussed and planned at the annual St Petersburg Economic Forum and the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia’s top economic meetings alongside the Valdai discussions.
But then there are also interpolations between players – some of them leading to possible partnerships that are not exactly appreciated by the three leading members of Eurasia integration: Russia, China and Iran.
For instance, four months ago Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev visited Baku to propose a strategic partnership – dubbed 5+3 – between Central Asia and South Caucasus states.
Ay, there’s the rub. A specific problem is that both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace – which is a military gig – and also of the Turkic Council, which has embarked on a resolute expansion drive. To complicate matters, Russia also has a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan.
The Turkic Council has the potential to act as a monkey wrench dropped into the – Eurasian – works. There are five members: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
This is pan-Turkism – or pan-Turanism – in action, with a special emphasis on the Turk-Azeri “one nation, two states.” Ambition is the norm: The Turkic Council has been actively trying to seduce Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Hungary to become members.
Assuming the 5+3 idea gets traction that would lead to the formation of a single entity from the Black Sea all the way to the borders of Xinjiang, in thesis under Turkish preeminence. And that means NATO preeminence.
Russia, China and Iran will not exactly welcome it. All of the 8 members of the 5+3 are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, while half (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia) are also members of the counterweight, the Russia-led CSTO.
Eurasian players are very much aware that in early 2021 NATO switched the command of its quite strategic Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to Turkey. Subsequently, Ankara has embarked on a serious diplomatic drive – with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Aka visiting Libya, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Translation: That’s Turkey – and not the Europeans – projecting NATO power across Eurasia.
Add to it two recent military exercises, Anatolian 21 and Anatolian Eagle 2021, focused on special ops and air combat. Anatolian 21 was conducted by Turkish special forces. The list of attendants was quite something, in terms of a geopolitical arc. Apart from Turkey, we had Albania, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – with Mongolia and Kosovo as observers.
Once again, that was Pan-Turkism – as well as neo-Ottomanism – in action.
Watch the new Intermarium
Speculation by Brzezinski nostalgia denizens that a successful 5+3, plus an expanded Turkic Council, would lead to the isolation of Russia in vast swaths of Eurasia are idle.
There’s no evidence that Ankara would be able to control oil and gas corridors (this is prime Russian and Iran territory) or influence the opening up of the Caspian to Western interests (that’s a matter for the Caspian neighbors, which include, once again, Russia and Iran). Tehran and Moscow are very much aware of the lively Erdogan/Aliyev spy games constantly enacted in Baku.
Pakistan for its part may have close relations with Turkey – and the Turk-Azeri combo. Yet that did not prevent Islamabad from striking a huge military deal with Tehran.
According to the deal, Pakistan will train Iranian fighter pilots and Iran will train Pakistani anti-terrorism special ops. The Pakistani Air Force has a world-class training program – while Tehran has first-class experience in anti-terror ops in Iraq/Syria as well as in its sensitive borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Turk-Azeri combo should be aware that Baku’s dream of becoming a trade/transportation corridor hub in the Caucasus may only happen in close coordination with regional players.
The possibility still exists of a trade/connectivity Turk-Azeri corridor to be extended into the Turkic-based heartland of Central Asia. Yet Baku’s recent heavy-handedness after the military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh predictably engineered blowback. Iran and India are developing their own corridor ideas going East and West.
It was up to the chairman of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, Alireza Peymanpak, to clarify that “two alternative Iran-Eurasia transit routes will replace Azerbaijan’s route.” The first should open soon, “via Armenia” and the second “via sea by purchasing and renting vessels.”
That was a direct reference, once again, to the inevitable International North-South Transportation Corridor: rail, road and water routes crisscrossing 7,200 kilometers and interlinking Russia, Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus, India and Western Europe. The INSTC is at least 30% cheaper and 40% shorter than existing, tortuous routes.
Baku – and Ankara – have to be ultra-savvy diplomatically not to find themselves excluded from the inter-connection, even considering that the original INSTC route linked India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
Two camps seem to be irreconcilable at this particular juncture: Turkey-Azerbaijan on the one hand and India-Iran on the other, with Pakistan in the uncomfortable middle.
The key development is that New Delhi and Tehran have decided that the INSTC will go through Armenia – and not Azerbaijan – all the way to Russia.
That’s terrible news for Ankara – a wound that even an expanded Turkic Council would not heal. Baku, for its part, may have to deal with the unpleasant consequences of being regarded by top Eurasian players as an unreliable partner.
Anyway, we’re still far from the finality expressed by the legendary casino mantra, “The chips are down.” This is a chessboard in non-stop movement.
We should not forget, for instance, the Bucharest Nine: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. That concerns a prime NATO wet dream: the latest remix of the Intermarium – as in de facto blocking Russia out of Europe. A dominating team of 5 +3 and Bucharest Nine would be the ultimate pincer in terms of “isolating” Russia.
Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.
Everything is in flux in Eurasia.Two sinister players are in the midst of Eurasian Integration.The Hegemon has many strings to pull, and Erdogan uses Turkic language and Islam as his roadmap to building his Sultanate.
The question left in the coming years is can SCO really work to contain terrorism, secure trade routes and new infrastructure and create harmony among its members, the power players of the land mass?
But the player I often see who has not come along with grace and comity is India. Modi needs all the benefits that Eurasia Integration can bring. However, he has two “enemies” who are partners in the organization. Pakistan and China, and plays them as enemies and partners both. Until India/Modi breaks the shackles of old patterns, ideas and dogma, progress will be slowed.
It is a New Game, not quite Great yet, but potential is Great. So are the negative forces in plain sight.
“Two sinister players” that you mention – the Hegemon and Erdogan can play their games there but the reality is this – the three major players there that they are against – Russia, China and Iran are NOT going to let them call any shots. End of story. Erdogan is playing this chess game with pawns, has no hope of getting Queens, Bishops and Knights on his side of the board. Hegemon is playing checkers. (India, on the other hand, needs to get rid of that Modi and do it rather fast, if they want to see a better future for themselves.)
Russia, China and Iran are playing a much more sophisticated game that these two ‘sinister players”, who have absolutely NO CHANCE whatsoever of winning anything on this global chessboard! They can try..
I do want to bring here that wonderful Nussiminen’s expression that I just cannot forget and which is very appropriate here – the masturbatory fantasies are pleasant to boost one’s ego! Indeed. : )
“But the player I often see who has not come along with grace and comity is India. Modi needs all the benefits that Eurasia Integration can bring. However, he has two “enemies” who are partners in the organization. Pakistan and China, and plays them as enemies and partners both. Until India/Modi breaks the shackles of old patterns, ideas and dogma, progress will be slowed.”
I think, perhaps, you do not fully appreciate the political constraints that Modi has to work with.
The Indian elites are fully behind the Empire. They feel they have the most to gain from any alliance with the Empire and will do whatever they can to ensure this alliance. Example- any rapprochement with China has been sabotaged and thwarted for the time being by reviving the border disputes and hyping it. All the better to have more reasons to ally with the Empire.
India’s diplomatic corps is small and totally inadequate to meet the current challenges. Apparently, India’s diplomatic corps is smaller than that of Singapore!! This corps has managed very well for itself by towing the Empire’s line and will resist any efforts to make it dynamic and work hard to meet the challenges of a fast changing dynamic condition. Remember that the Indian diplomatic corps was trained by the British and are very comfortable parroting the West’s view and agenda. They see the world largely through Anglo eyes. Seventy years after the departure of the British there has been virtually no change in the culture and world-view of India’s foreign service elite.
Pakistan, was, of course, created by the Empire to be a millstone around India’s neck and to hem in India to ensure that India does not get so big that it could challenge the Empire any time soon.
The US Afghanistan debacle has been an eye opener for India but they still cannot bring themselves to recognise that their interests do not lie in an alliance with the Empire. Hopefully another debacle in Ukraine, Taiwan or Iran will finally convince India as to where its real interests lie. They still have good relations with Russia and buy a significant amount of weapons from Russia so all is not lost yet.
These Indian elite sunaltern types prospered under several hundered years of British/European rule.
Now they are trying to find another empire to rule them.
Less than Singapore — exactly. And they want a seat on the UN!
One only has to remember how they treated the poor and lower castes in the covid panic and the statement “not come along with grace and comity” is quite clearly rooted in the localised nature of the place.
Even the prostitutes in Asia usually have “no Indians” signs posted — wonder why?
As above, so below — they are basically high on “untouchable” themes it seems.
Excellent analysis, thanks!
‘Pakistan was of course created by the Empire to be a millstone around India’s neck’.
Not true. The Empire had no intention of leaving India. Sectarian violence was deliberately introduced to create a failed state that the British would never leave. We know the pattern from Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, etc.
The key development is that New Delhi and Tehran have decided that the INSTC will go through Armenia – and not Azerbaijan – all the way to Russia.
From Armenia, the route to Russia necessarily goes through Georgia. Is that better than Azerbaijan? Perhaps so. Perhaps the Georgians are sufficiently docile after the 08-08-08 war.
However, I wonder why the trade route can’t go from Iran, through the Caspian Sea, directly to Russia.
The idea Armenia is a “reliable partner” ahead of Azerbaijan.
Indeed ….why we have the word “Byzantine”
That is indeed the question I asked right off…why not a direct Iranian sea route to Russia via Russian ports on the Caspian. all that trade needs is a sea route, loading and off loading…if there isn’t one going already
overland is bound to take more time, and be complex politically.
Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are close by, neighbors, and would be driven basically by their own subjectivities that would shape their trade connections in the region. both India and Iran would be hamstrung by the politics and economy going overland, and by time
Caspian Gordian Knot
Re: “… 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘨𝘰 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘐𝘳𝘢𝘯, 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘢𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘚𝘦𝘢, 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘙𝘶𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘢…?”
I followed the Caspian saga since 1990s, a region very rich in mythical history. For example; Ancient Khazaria was dominant power on northern half of this Sea for centuries, among pressure points of Christian, Islamic and Jewish empires.
Since 1990s, I noted the intense efforts of the Cabal to insert itself in Caspian and to control its mineral wealth, part of the Resource Wars. See Pepe’s Pipelinestan series, especially “Vice” Cheney’s Sisyphean exertions on behalf of Big Oil and neocons. In short, Empire wanted to route former Soviet republics’ oil/gas pipes West to EU or SE to Pakistan/India; China/Russia/Iran didn’t want competing pipes and/or intrusion into their Sea.
Even before then, Caspian sea politics was intensely convoluted and appeared more complicated and intractable than the land routes.
▪︎ Iran used to have 50% of Caspian coasts as recently as WW2, since then reduced to 20%, and this outrage led to its dragging its feet ratifying treaties for common littoral usage (see Pepe above, Aktau treaty).
▪︎ Jewish Zionists expressed their Phantom pains, like in Ukraine, of trying to re-insert themselves in old ancestral lands.
▪︎ Competition over significant minerals, oil and gas deposits, afforded chance for AZ Empire to involve itself and divide local states in its politics. See talking points from this neocon rag:
𝘙𝘶𝘴𝘴𝘰-𝘐𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘥𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦
▪︎ Russian/Iranian moved to exclude or limit western interests in Caspian, slowing its development and integration.
▪︎ Russian and Iranian navies/military remained a check on Western / former Soviet republics’ shenanigans as well as over Middle East itself. See 2015 small Russian corvettes’ Kalibers travelling over Iran and Iraq to hit Syrian AZ proxies; these were launched from southern Iranian waters of Caspian.
▪︎ Russia-Iran started to develop this Sea as an internal line of communication between them, similar to China-Russia internal land borders where they reinforce each other, free of sea pirates’ external border and sea pressures & containment.
▪︎ The Zionists largely succeeded in coopting Azerbaijan and India, making them less reliable partners and the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) less viable.
▪︎ Western sanctions, (& lack of Russia/ China and esp. India support) hindered development of needed infrastructure, i.e. to roll on / roll off cargo from land to sea and back to land; India has failed to honor many Iran agreements, including existential oil trade, to its own woe and setback. So Iran privileged BRI and other routes, for example re-routing INSTC through Armenia. India’s suicidal policies may get it excluded from INSTC altogether – see China now taking over development of Chabahar Port!
▪︎ The rising “Pan-Turanism” has been watched for a generation now, and this Turkic Council and relocation of NATO’s VHRJTF to Turkey is very ominous. The main target is China’s BRI, but again, Iran and Caspian Sea are collateral damage.
▪︎ Other stymied Grand Plans: another was to build a canal from the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean coast of Iran to the Caspian. But Iran was under vicious sanctions and entire region was for generations in war or on cusp of war, so a risky investment environment. And sea pirate nations still roam at Hormuz and other sea chokepoints.
So to summarize, until AZ Empire’s sea pirates are neutralized, its proxy “pan-Turan raider romantics” are fully coopted or pacified, and comity is reached between littoral states, the Caspian Sea route may not be as favored as the northern BRI land routes and even Northern Sea Route, once sufficient nuclear ice-breakers are built for carrying capacity.
You should do an article to encapsulate this with other of your research and POV.
I appreciate your grasp on the subject. The topic is vital to Eurasian Integration which itself is vital to the end of the Empire and prevention of Erdogan’s Great Turan.
I much appreciate your words!
I consider you an exemplar, and admire the succinctness and distilled insight you typically provide.
However, I am still learning myself, and lost most of my writing polish.
Much of what I wrote in the above comment is a synthesis of recollections of writings by several master thinkers.
This region is so complex – the intersection of major religions, civilizations, vast migration routes, and ancient animosities – that I feel hesitant to write officially in the presence of so many more qualified (full-time) researchers and historians.
Am just a humble fast-typing family doc!
What I pieced together is from observing events and reading hundreds of articles over last decades, especially Pepe, our globe-trotting treasure who I first discovered on Asia Times in late 1990s, since I love history and yearned to learn from engaging primary sources such as him.
I also learned from powerful researchers such as FW Engdahl, various Iranians on Globalresearch.ca, the soulful Rev. Mark Dankof (a Texan warrior for the Resistance camp, in spite of his distinguished father being a US AF colonel working in Iran in early 1970s!), and many history professors not afraid to speak the truth. Many British or British-trained analysts appear to have the best perspective, living in the “CPU” of the Beast if you will, and I am indebted to them.
I enjoy listening to Christian and Islamic Eschatology. We do appear to be working our way through the Book of Revelations! And Sheikh Imran Hosein avers that Black Sea-Caspian region will be crucial to our End Times and the coming big war. He maintains this Crimean loss to Russia was biggest blow to Zionism since its inception in late 1890s; it informs their current crazed kamikaze-like behavior. It was Zionist intent to pre-position themselves to block exit of Russian navy into Med Sea and the coming threat to Israel once Antichrist openly declares himself there, in an apparently imminent Pax Judaica.
[This assumes the fallout will end aerial warfare for months to years and limit post-apocalyptic war to land and sea (hence focus on Russian navy), but all this is beyond my remit.]
I agree with Saker, how this works (Russia becoming the overt official standard-bearer of Christendom) given current largely liberal and secular outlook of Russians is also beyond me.. Perhaps the severe shock of coming war will reorient and focus us all, especially citizens of its primary target.
I feel Eschatology is key to all this, the spiritual thread tying everything together. But I (and most) do not have religious training, which is source of much of our bewilderment at this world gone ape. Even so, with diligent self-education, patience, and prayer we can together make general sense of events and connect dots.
However, relevant to your advice to write officially, I will consider it. I cannot at this time, am simply overwhelmed. I have a young family – our youngest is just teething, I am in academic medicine with multiple job hats (clinical, teaching, research, administrative) and live as an expat near one of middle eastern war hot-zones (so we too await the Götterdämmerung like Crimea!)
I have had lots of nervous energy to burn in last 3 months – why I started writing here after reading for 10+ years. I have never written before on public forums. And if I do something, I like to do it well, so we will see. I last wrote a proper history paper a quarter century ago, when I was not permitted to indulge in hyperbole.
As one of youngest, I am here on this website primarily to learn and to receive considered perspectives and insights. I am delighted if I can contribute a few helpful historical nuggets, usually of eclectic or little considered angles which bolster others who need the detail (IF I am right!). My main interest is grasping the big-picture in our fast changing world, and when they rouse, to exchange views in the Cafe with wise folks such as Amarynth and certain grizzlies from Anoxia and Oz. And I most appreciate the Saker, Herb, entire Saker team and all experienced commentators who afford us this rich forum.
I think only with Erdogan Turkey is reasonably strong, economically rather weak.
After Erdogan, I think his health is not the best, Turkey can experience very turbulent times.
Yes, Erdogan has created many external enemies amd has worsened the internal conditions in Turkey. They have a significant population who support Erdogan’s political rivals. It’s only a matter of time until Turkey descends into chaos. Either Erdogan’s demise or a foreign military adventure gone wrong would suffice.
Great article and informations. In my amateur opinion, there is no real and powerful proactive activity from the Russian side. In addition to buying time and indulging Turkish (read NATO read Anglo-American) interests. Turkey is a player of the Muslim Brotherhood along with Qatar and an advocate of pan-Islamism. That is the problem for Russia, China and Iran. In that context, Russia’s role in Central Asia should be dominant and proactive, but it does not look like that. She seems to have withdrawn and taken care of her internal problems, believing that the Soviet spirit of the Turkish peoples of Central Asia would remain unchanged. And it will force all those countries back into a secular society. Maybe in Kazakhstan and northern Kyrgyzstan. Or Russians may not want to come up with concrete proposals counting on Turkey’s accession to the Asian bloc, but none of that will happen. Even if Turkey decides to do it, it carries its Ottoman messianic role with it, but this time facing the Turkish-Mongol peoples from whom it used to flee. Why? Turkey is a vassal force of Anglo-American interests. Among the Arabs its influence is minor. Turkey cannot break NATO from within because its survival does not depend on the European elites with whom it quarrels and kisses. Anglo-Zio interest is, as Pepe says,are the Turkish axis to eastern Siberia. Precisely such reactive and passive waiting behavior is what is no longer Sun Tzu but gambling, and there is NO gambling in serious politics. In the last few posts, as a layman, I wrote what my opinion is and that it is in the interest of Russia and Iran to break the Turkish-Anglo-American axis before the Caucasus, otherwise Anglo-American interests will surround them on all sides and break Asian unity. In this context, state borders as they once exist are are no longer valid. Anagloamers and Europeans have shown this on the example of Kosovo. War and a new Yalta are coming. There is no new division of spheres without war, no matter how much Russia resists it. In my opinion, Azerbaijan, as an object without integrity, in my opinion, should be divided between Iran and Russia and Armenia. Russia does not control the Caucasus without control of Baku. Armenia should be a buffer zone between Turkey and Iran and Russia. In Central Asia, a Turkestan state should finally be created, whose heart will be Uzbekistan, but with parts of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Stalin’s borders lose their meaning with Pan-Turkism. That state must be neutral and under the control of Russia, but also China and Iran. Something like Mongolia between China and Russia. The Uzbek-Turkmen part north of the Hindu Kus should be added to it, because Afghanistan is also an unsustainable community. Russia should also control the border between China and Central Asia as well as the border with Baltistan-Pakistan. It has all the predispositions to do it. To eliminate any attempt of destabilization adn coridor exclusion from all sides, as it is possible in the western terrain towards the NATO threat in Baltic. .
You seem to be another Ralph Peters :) Given your Turkestan state logic, the Azeris of Iran should unite with the Azeris of Azerbaijan to form a greater Azerbaijan.
Your remapping of the Causasus dividing the Azeri Turks between Russia, Armenia and Iran would provide Russia with even more headaches. Not very realistic. Russia needs to continue dealing with reality and convincing persuading, even Erdoğan, that a Turkic Slavic union of sovereign states is the way to go. This can be done through the SCO. Erdoğan has his 16th century dreams, but “the new silk road” is clearly a benefit to Turkey much more than a sinking in the mud EU.
A map would be useful to ilustrate this piece.
It is one thing to conceive of grandiose projects, it is an entirely different proposition to implement them. Above all one needs the means. Is Turkey’s economy (even with full Qatari financial backing) powerful enough to lead and act as a gravitational force for Pan-Turkism or a Neo Ottoman empire? Is its military powerful enough to impose it or to just defend it?
The NATO connection imho is fortuitous and thus irrelevant. That organization being essentially a US Army branch, the 2021 move of its Command force to Turkey can readily be explained as replacement for US presence there. That Erdogan would exploit the opportunity is hardly surprising, but does not constitute conclusive evidence of NATO collusion for some Pan-Turanism.
To me Erdogan is not a delusional megalomaniac, at least not the type who dreams of conquering the world or worse; picking a fight with Russia or China. On the contrary, I believe what characterizes him best is pragmatic opportunism. And for such a character the times couldn’t be more fertile. Again imho, Pan-Turanism shouldn’t be seen as an imperialistic project, but at most an attempt to create a bloc similar to ASEAN to better negotiate his interests with the big boys, and at least to enhance his perceived relevance, or whatever practical motive lurks in his mind.
As for the Bucharest 9 forming a common front to isolate Russia, I grin idiotically. Assuming they are capable of such, how long could it last, even without a shot fired? A few miles further west the entire continent is on the verge of total economic disintegration. So Whom would they rest on for their basic needs? The yet to be born Turanists? hahaha… No my dears, truthfully the times for betting are way past, “les jeux sont fait, rien ne va plus” as they say.
When an empire recedes, it is normal the newly liberated provinces experience temporary commotions. But this is not like the western front of the Roman empire that left a vacuum behind it; two powerful entities are peacefully filling the void in unison. Behind them still stands a golden mount. Soon, as the time shall come, the two will ride its back to lead us all.
Ok, that last part was the delayed hit of my earlier spliff, but basically tis it Man.
Regardless of the possibility of being censored here, I believe it is important to bring to this community lessons
learned, or discoverable from the armistice negotiation phase of the Korean War.
In late 1952, only one issue divided the parties…. POW repatriation… The US and it’s allies insisted that POWs could only be repatriated after a prolonged vetting process, while China and it’s allies insisted upon immediate, unconditional return of all POWs to their home countries……
To get it’s way, the US broke off negotiations and attacked the Chinese front line at the “Triangle” for the purpose of demonstrating US ability to shift the front line at will. Regardless of immense casualties, the Chinese thwarted this attack, and held fast.
Not willing to concede the POW issue, during the early days of the first Eisenhower administration, the US planned a second amphibious assault, on the east coast of Korea, to flank the Chinese/DPRK front line hoping to force it’s collapse, and facilitating a thrust to the Yalu River.
The Chinese leadership in Beijing recognized the signs of an impending amphibious assault, presciently determined where it would likely come, and mobilized every available man to construct shore fortifications, and to emplace sufficient guns in them to make a landing problematic.
Faced with likelyhood of failure, with no other options possible, the US reconvened armistice negotiations, and caved on the POW issue. Shortly thereafter, the armistice was signed, and the war ended.
I mention this history for the express purpose of reminding everyone that NATO will only relent in it’s pursuit of hegemony, when it is confronted with abject failure. That turning the other cheek, protestations, demonstrations, and other passive actions will fail. Only confronting NATO forces and forcing them to back off or retreat, as the Iranians did recently over the Tanker issue, works.
I agree with Pepe that the Turkic Council is one to watch.
Pan Turanism ie. The idea of a “Turanian brotherhood and collaboration” was borrowed from the Pan-Slavic concept of Slavic brotherhood and collaboration. It originated in Hungary in the 19th Century as a counter movement to Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism.
This is why Hungary is part of the Turkic Council (as an observer)
21st century Turanism, in the form of the Turkic Council, is a counter-weight to the EU and Eurasian integration.
It is still a mystery to me what they actually do…if the collaboration is economic, political or cultural…
A canal connecting the Caspian sea to the Persian Gulf or better yet to the Indian Ocean running through Iran would be the coolest infrastructure project ever. The U.S. would fire up the info war engine, oppose it w/sanctions, and make it sound evil. It’s amazing how the U.S. claims the moral high ground opposing civilian commerce and the U.S. MSM plays along with the charade.
This article was published on October 31st, and I have a question, perhaps for Pepe, who I think may have the ability to answer it, or anyone else who would care to help clarify what I feel everyone will agree has become an impossibly complex situation, Andre? Larchmont? Anyone?
I believe Evergrande (since this particular article was written) has now gone under. It looks therefore as if is true that Xi has decided to pop-the-global-everything-bubble — for reasons stated in this article — and which the US in its arrogance apparently doesn’t believe Xi will do. If this causes the US financial system to implode, which thus will have a great effect on the other countries tied in to DC, could this not be the beginning of the end for the US?
Wow! Wouldn’t that greatly simplify the situation, which as Pepe describes it today is simply mindboggling!
Evergrande made their loan payments due late, but they made them. The government is not going to collapse the real estate market. Evergrande is too big to fail. It will be changed later. But there will be no recession allowed.
Like all big governments, the Chinese will be able to cover the debts of its biggest enterprises. Money is fungible and the Chinese know how to move it to where it is needed.
They have their own credit rating system and all the bases are covered.
My bad, Larchmont!
This most recent of articles, however, seems to point in the other direction. Apparently, Xi isn’t going to play the too-big-to-fail game. At the very least, it appears to be questionable/uncertain. Do you remember the very well researched article by William Engdahl — I’m sure it is still on his site and will look it up if you like, in which he talked about the game between Soros and Blackrock in China, which eventually led to Xi calling Soros some nasty names? (After all, Soros was behind the Tiennamin Square debacle, which was his attempted color revolution, one that the US used for years to defame China! I remember thinking when I first saw the classic photo of a man stopping a tank, how awful China is.)
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Xi has the upper hand in this and may prefer to take the hit and come out on top instead of collapsing along with the US, when it goes down, as it must.
Where are you getting your facts — that it is a definite? I’m alway curious, and I would appreciate knowing. Thank you!
Larchmonter445, I wanted you and your readers to see the Engdahl article, which first alerted me to the problem, but I wasn’t allowed to copy a link, so I copied the entire article :)
Has Xi decided to take the medicine? It seems from this most recent article that I have just shared, he may have, and if he doesn’t it seems the world will continue to spin out of control. If nothing else, this is a complicated subject, I think, and it bears close watching!
Then it seems your discussion of wars and battles for Russia should continue for many years? Does it not? Will Putin, the lynch pin for it all be around for years? Maybe not.
. . . and we haven’t even talked about the truth of climate change!
The Strange China Feud of Soros and BlackRock
By F. William Engdahl
17 September 2021
A bizarre war of words has erupted in recent days in the pages of financial media between billionaire hedge fund and color revolution specialist, George Soros, and the gigantic BlackRock investment group. The issue is a decision by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to open the first foreign-owned mutual fund in China presumably to attract the savings of China’s new (and fast disappearing) middle income population. In a recent newspaper interview Soros called the BlackRock decision a threat to BlackRock investors and to US national security.
This seemingly absurd clash of views between two financial predator giants of Wall Street hides a far larger story—the looming systemic collapse inside China of a financial debt pyramid that is possibly the largest in the world. It could have a domino effect on the entire world economy far greater than the September 2008 Lehman Crisis.
“Global economic terrorist..:”
On September 6 Soros wrote a guest Editorial in the Wall Street Journal sharply criticizing BlackRock for investing in China: “It is a sad mistake to pour billions of dollars into China now. This is likely to lose money for BlackRock customers and, more importantly, harm the national security interests of the US and other democracies.” Not like Soros to cite US national security… He went on to say, “The BlackRock Initiative threatens the national security interests of the US and other democracies because money invested in China will help advance President Xi’s regime, which is repressive at home and aggressive abroad.” BlackRock issued a response stating, “The US and China have a large and complex economic relationship…Through our investment activity, US-based asset managers and other financial institutions contribute to the economic interconnection of the world’s two largest economies.“
At a time when the bloated debt edifice of China banks and real estate conglomerates is collapsing almost daily, the defense of BlackRock and CEO Fink hardly ring true. It suggests there is far more behind the BlackRock-China relation as well as behind the Soros attack. Two days before Soros’ OpEd in the journal, the official China Global Times wrote a scathing article calling Soros a “global economic terrorist.” One of their charges was that Soros money financed a “color revolution” in Hong Kong in 2019 against Beijing new laws de facto ending the island’s independent status.[This is NOT the color revolution to which I referred. Sally.]
However the sharp attack on Soros was far more likely caused by an OpEd Soros wrote in the London Financial Times five days earlier in which he sharply attacked Xi Jinping and the current crackdown on private Chinese companies such as Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Financial. In an August 30 OpEd Soros called President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on private enterprise, “a significant drag on the Chinese economy” that “could lead to a crash.” He further pointed out that major western stock indices such as MorganStanley’s MSCI and BlackRock’s ESG Aware, have “effectively forced hundreds of billions of dollars belonging to US investors into Chinese companies whose corporate governance does not meet the required standard — power and accountability is now exercised by one man (Xi) who is not accountable to any international authority.” He urged Congress to pass laws that would limit asset managers’ investments to “companies where actual governance structures are both transparent and aligned with stakeholders.”
The curious aspect about the Soros charges against Beijing financial transparency is that they are factually correct, based on public statements by Chinese regulators as well as Wall Street managers and regulators. China’s financial markets are opaque, and rules change unpredictably as to who gets rescued and who not. The ongoing meltdown of China’s huge Evergrande real estate and financial group is only one recent instance of the high risk of investing today in China.
Not so Evergrande
The world’s “most valuable” real estate group is also the world’s most indebted real estate group. Evergrande, based in Shenzhen, has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for months as it defaults on loan after loan and the major credit rating agencies lower its rating to junk status. The group owes a total of $305 billion and that debt is both offshore in dollar loans as well as domestic unregulated loans from what are termed WMPs or wealth management products. As its finances implode and unit apartment sales plunge, tens of thousands of prospective apartment owners are threatened with having paid for unfinished apartments. To date the central bank of China has not intervened but speculation grows that a state bailout of the group is days away in order to prevent a systemic financial contagion. The reason is apparently that Evergrande is only the tip of a very debt-bloated China corporate sector iceberg.
In August China Huarong Asset Management Co., a so-called “bad bank” created by the Finance Ministry to take on assets of troubled Chinese companies, itself had to be bailed out by the state to prevent what many feared would be China’s “Lehman crisis.” Huarong is one of four such state-owned companies created in the wake of the 1998 Asia financial crisis to manage assets of bankrupt state companies. While majority owned by the Chinese Finance Ministry, since 2014 it has sold shares to others including Goldman Sachs and Warburg Pincus.
After 2014 Huarong grew into a non-bank financial giant and financed spectacular growth via debt. That began to unwind in 2020 during the covid crisis. In January 2021 a Chinese court tried the chairman, Lai Xiaomin, who was sentenced to death without reprieve for bribery, embezzlement, and bigamy, in a strange collection of charges. The court declared, “He endangered [China’s] financial stability.”
When the Huarong group failed to release its annual financial report by the deadline end of March, fears grew of a bankruptcy chain-reaction as billions of its offshore dollar bonds were at risk. Total debts were estimated at some $209 billion. Reportedly, instead of conservatively managing distressed assets, Lai used the state Finance Ministry status of the non-bank bank to deal in everything from private equity to real estate speculation to junk bond trading, borrowing billions wildly. The state forced its own CITIC group to bailout Huarong in August. Yet it’s clear this is only the beginning of a snowballing financial crisis in China.
For months the Xi Politburo has tried, with increasing desperation, to halt the growth of a colossal financial bubble in its real estate sector. Earlier this year Xi issued the slogan “housing is for living, not for speculation.” His moves to freeze and slowly deflate the huge real estate bubble are likely far too late. Real estate construction and sales are the largest single part of Chinese GDP, over 28% by official estimates. To demand that investment go now into “productive” projects and not speculation in real estate ever-rising prices is not so easy.
Xi has increasingly taken steps to control China’s out-of-control real estate bubble, and its threat of a systemic crisis like that in the US in 2008, by instituting steps to restrain real estate lending. According to Chinese data the amount of real estate total financing is down 13% for the first half of 2021 compared with 2020. At the same time debt due by Chinese real estate companies on bonds and other debts are more than RMB 1.3 trillion or $200 billion in 2021, and almost RMB 1 trillion in 2022. The contracting real estate sector will make such a huge repayment increasingly impossible and lead no doubt to new defaults across China. Recently Ping An, China’s largest insurance group, also heavily invested in real estate, was forced to set aside $5.5 billion in loan loss provisions related to its investment in defaulter, China Fortune Land Development Co.
If it were only Evergrande that is insolvent due to unpayable debts in a contracting economy, Chinese authorities could no doubt manage it in one or another way by demanding its state banks or large groups like CITIC simply swallow the bad debts to contain spread of the crisis. The problem is that Evergrande, Huarong, PingAn and other large Chinese property investors are clearly only symptoms of an economy which has taken on debt far beyond what was prudent. In April Beijing’s CCP State Council told local governments that their so-called Local Government Financing Vehicles with estimated (no one knows) trillions of dollars they had in unregulated shadow bank loans used to finance local projects, had to get rid of excess bad loans or go under.
On July 1 Beijing announced that local government revenues from land sales to developers, some half of all local revenues, must be sent to the central Beijing Finance Ministry and no longer used locally. That insures a catastrophic collapse in the multi-trillion dollar local shadow banks and construction projects. No more Beijing bailouts. At the same time solvency of China’s fragile multi-trillion “small” banking sector is in doubt, as bank closings increase. Now with national state-owned giants nearing bankruptcy, the verbal war between BlackRock and George Soros takes on a significant new light. China is in a serious debt collapse crisis.
China already has the world’s largest extent of high-speed rail track and those are losing money. The Belt Road Initiative is bogged down in debts that countries are unable to repay and China banks have sharply cut loans to BRI Silk Road projects from $75 billion in 2016 to $4 billion in 2020. Its demographic crisis means the endless flow of cheap rural labor to build that infrastructure is sharply declining. The middle class is deeply indebted from buying new cars and homes when times were good. Total household debt including mortgage and consumer loans for cars and household appliances in 2020 was a whopping 62% of GDP. The Institute of International Finance (IIF) estimated that China’s total domestic debt rose to 335 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020.
Beijing’s Wall St Bailout?
It appears that Beijing is seeking a major de facto bailout from foreign investors into its troubled stocks and bonds led by Wall Street. Major Wall Street banks and investors have had close involvement in China for several years. With the US stock markets at dangerous historic highs and the EU in deep trouble, they perhaps hope China can save them, despite the clear evidence that Chinese corporate accounting rules are opaque, as Evergrande shows. Since 2019 Morgan Stanley’s widely used MSCI All Country World Index, has been allowed to list major Chinese companies, which, as Soros accurately noted, forces western stock funds to buy billions of dollars of China stocks. BlackRock is permitted now to invest Chinese personal savings in its funds. It is not clear if there are other parts to the deal.
This is the pot of potential gold which has Wall Street and BlackRock lining up outside Beijing. The Soros condemnation of BlackRock, the largest private investment fund in the world, clearly is strategic. Could it be that Soros intends to replay his 1998 toppling of the Russian bond market bubble after taking his profits? If so, no wonder the official China media calls Soros an “economic terrorist.” Whatever the trigger, such a collapse of the China debt bubble would make the 2008 Lehman crisis pale.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”
Thank you for this article. Can you please tell me if this is the website you mentioned?
I found another website by his name but the articles on that site seem to be quite old.
“MSCI All Country World Index can list major Chinese companies. Soros says this forces western stock funds to buy billions of dollars of China stocks.” Not really. Do you feel forced to buy Chinese stocks? Can you say No to Sinopec?