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Thread: Bulgaria vs Ukraine

  1. #1

    Default Bulgaria vs Ukraine

    Bulgaria vs Ukraine: Don’t blink

    by Eric Walberg / July 23rd, 2009
    First there was the election in Bulgaria 5 July which brought a new party to power — Boyko Borisov’s Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria. Borisov, or Batman, as he is affectionately called, was a Communist-era policeman who subsequently established a prosperous private security business and has been the mayor of Sofia since 2005. He campaigned on the usual — to fight corruption and secure a better economic future. The Batman bragged in an interview with Der Spiegel of receiving “letters of accolade” from the CIA and FBI, presumably for his battle with the dark forces. One of the first things he did as PM, however, was to suspend the existing energy contracts with Moscow, both the South Stream and a nuclear power plant project.
    This triumph of “democracy” has “made in USA” written all over it. In 200, Moscow laid out two alternate pipelines, bypassing Ukraine and Poland — the North Stream under the Baltic Sea into Germany, and the South Stream under the Black Sea into Bulgaria and on to Europe. The government in Sofia, though a member of the EU and NATO, nonetheless signed energy agreements with Moscow in 2008. This and the gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia in January 2009 made regime change in Bulgaria essential, and the services of the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy — they helped overthrow the Bulgarian government in 1990 — were clearly made excellent use of. Just a week after elections marred by vote buying (despite or due to the NED?), Bulgaria’s new PM cancelled the Russian deal.
    Borisov went to Ankara a week later to sign on to the EU Nabucco pipeline. Democrat Richard Morningstar, US special envoy for Eurasian energy, and Republican Senator Richard Lugar (note the bipartisanship) joined him in Ankara on 13 July for the signing ceremony. If all goes according to plan, the Nabucco project will upstage South Stream, bringing gas from the Caspian region and Middle East to Central and Western European markets, with possible suppliers Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq.
    Senator Lugar said — with a straight face — the Nabucco agreement signed in Turkey “is a signal to the rest of the world that partner governments will not acquiesce to manipulation of energy supplies for political ends. It also has the potential to build new avenues for peaceful cooperation.” Obama served up more such tripe during his “Moscow speech” on 7 July: “In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonising other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over.”
    However, Azerbaijan may have problems providing enough gas to make Nabucco feasible, as it initialed a deal in June with Russia’s Gazprom for gas from the Shah Deniz field — the same field Nabucco needs for its pipeline. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is caught in this competition between Russia and the West, with a bottom line — who will pay the highest price? Even if Nabucco strikes a deal to buy Azeri gas at the price already agreed with Gazprom, according to F William Engdahl, there just ain’t enough to go around. And there are problems with all the other potential suppliers as well.
    Senator Lugar told the Senate — again, with a straight face: “Ideally, in the way of the world, the natural gas — and maybe in due course oil supplies — coming out of a united Iraq might provide this kind of capital, which would be a miraculous happening and a wonderful ending to a very tragic period in their history.” If, of course, Iraq acquiesces to its US-client status. Even so, Iraqi gas to Turkey would pass through Kurdish areas, a hotbed of separatism against both Turkey and the current Iraqi government. The other main source of gas would be Iran.
    For all the Obama hype, his advisers are really playing the same geopolitical game as Cheney and Bush. It is a clash of “civilisation”, with the US the so-called civiliser and everyone else the to-be-civilised. But Iran and Russia are not as easy to “dominate or demonise”, to borrow a bit of Obama-speak, as certain other countries. It will take an invasion of Iran to change Washington’s dynamic with that country. And all the hot air coming from Washington will not dissipate the Russian cloud of suspicion caused by the missile bases and NATO’s vow to swallow Ukraine and Georgia.
    The degree of “civilisation” in the latter two countries is far from clear at present. The Georgian opposition continues to call for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s resignation in the wake of his disastrous war against Russia last summer. Counting on Georgia in its present mess as a key link in the Nabucco pipeline project is quite a gamble.
    In Ukraine opinion polls reveal something quite remarkable. “If we were to fantasise, and pretend that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would run for the post of Ukrainian president, then according to opinion poll results he would win right off,” says Alexei Lyashenko, an analyst at Kiev’s Research & Branding (R&B) polling institute. “His only serious competitor would be Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.” This is not new according to Lyashenko. Putin’s rating was over 50 per cent even during the 2004 “Orange Revolution”. Opinion poll results published in May indicate that 58 per cent of Ukrainians have a positive attitude toward Putin, and 56 per cent approve of Medvedev. The pro-Russian head of the opposition Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovych currently enjoys a 30 per cent approval rating, and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko 15 per cent. A shade more than five per cent of Ukrainians would vote for the anti-Russian President Viktor Yushchenko in the upcoming elections in January of 2010. According to Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) President Valeri Khmelko, “The main reason why Medvedev and Putin score so high is the endless conflicts and score-settling in Ukrainian politics, which make the Russian politicians look good.” “The Ukrainian preference for Russian state-controlled television and the desire for strong leadership in the times of crisis also play a role,” said R&B’s Lyashenko.
    A KIIS poll found that 25 per cent want full unification with Russia, and 68 per cent want an EU-style border-free regime with Russia, with Russia and Ukraine being “independent but friendly states” without a visa regime or custom controls. Polls consistently show more than half of Ukrainians are opposed to joining NATO, for which a referendum must be held in any case. “Over 90 per cent of people in Ukraine have a positive attitude toward Russia, and it has become even better over the past year,” KIIS President Valeri Khmelko noted. Nor do Ukrainians have much sympathy for Yushchenko’s friend Saakashvili. According to Lyashenko, 45 per cent have a negative opinion of Saakashvili, and only 11 percent have a positive one.
    Washington is still officially supporting NATO membership for both Ukraine and Georgia, as Vice President Joe Biden travels to Georgia and Ukraine this week. “Our efforts to reset relations with Russia will not come at the expense of any other countries,” Biden’s national security adviser, Tony Blinken, said. “Our hope is these leaders will live up to the promise of the revolution and make the hard choices to work together,” Blinken said, referring to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. He said the Obama administration — like the Ukrainian people, we might add — was concerned about the “political paralysis” in Kiev. Concerning NATO, he said it was up to Ukraine and Georgia to decide whether they wanted to join the alliance. Given US reliance on Russia for transit of its troops and arms to Afghanistan, Blinken’s less than ringing rhetoric — and Obama’s virtual silence — suggests that this will not happen any time soon.
    Yes, it’s clear now that Obama must have winked at Putin at the Moscow summit when the subject of Ukraine, Georgia and NATO came up. That was the only way he could get his troops through Russia to the killing fields in Afghanistan. But the Nabucco pipeline success surely irks Russia, as do continued NATO “exercises” in the Black Sea and the close ties between NATO and all the Black Sea countries — except Russia. And Poland has boldly announced its first missiles are expected this year.
    Faced with these games, Moscow will have to be sure not to “blink” first, avoiding any diplomatic faux pas which could provide fuel for Washington hawks. In any case, Obama’s senior Russian adviser Michael McFaul’s derisive “We don’t need the Russians” prior to Obama’s Russian summit is simply not true. Washington’s Bulgarian-Ukrainian-Caucasus intrigues could easily unravel — in the twinkling of an eye.
    Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo. You can reach him at his site: www.geocities.com/walberg2002
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/07/bu...ne-dont-blink/
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  2. #2

    Default Bulgaria vs Ukraine

    Since the pipeline that was to run from Russia to the west through Bulgaria has now been cancelled, there are some pretty major implications. Here are some thoughts from Alexander Mercouris



    The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully.

    In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.

    Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe's great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.

    However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy. Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies. This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world. The EU calls this “energy security” - a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control.

    It never happened that way. Though the Russian oil industry was privatised it mostly remained in Russian hands. After Putin came to power in 2000 the trend towards privatisation in the oil industry was reversed. One of the major reasons for western anger at the arrest of Khodorkovsky and the closure of Yukos and the transfer of its assets to the state oil company Rosneft was precisely because is reversed this trend of privatisation in the oil industry.

    In the gas industry the process of privatisation never really got started. Gas export continued to be controlled by Gazprom, maintaining its position as a state owned monopoly gas exporter. Since Putin came to power Gazprom’s position as a state owned Russian monopoly has been made fully secure.

    Much of the anger that exists in the west towards Putin can be explained by European and western resentment at his refusal and that of the Russian government to the break up of Russia's energy monopolies and to the “opening up” (as it is euphemistically called) of the Russian energy industry to the advantage of western companies. Many of the allegations of corruption that are routinely made against Putin personally are intended to insinuate that he opposes the “opening up” of the Russian energy industry and the break up and privatisation of Gazprom and Rosneft because he has a personal stake in them (in the case of Gazprom, that he is actually its owner). If one examines in detail the specific allegations of corruption made against Putin (as I have done) this quickly becomes obvious.

    His agenda of forcing Russia to privatise and break up its energy monopolies has never gone away. This is why Gazprom, despite the vital and reliable service it provides to its European customers, comes in for so much criticism. When Europeans complain about Europe's energy dependence upon Russia, they express their resentment at having to buy gas from a single Russian state owned company (Gazprom) as opposed to their own western companies operating in Russia.

    This resentment exists simultaneously with a belief, very entrenched in Europe, that Russia is somehow dependent upon Europe as a customer for its gas and as a supplier of finance and technology.

    This combination of resentment and overconfidence is what lies behind the repeated European attempts to legislate in Europe on energy questions in a way that is intended to force Russia to “open up” its the energy industry there.

    The first attempt was the so-called Energy Charter, which Russia signed but ultimately refused to ratify. The latest attempt is the EU's so-called Third Energy Package.

    This is presented as a development of EU anti-competition and anti-monopoly law. In reality, as everyone knows, it is targeted at Gazprom, which is a monopoly, though obviously not a European one.

    This is the background to the conflict over South Stream. The EU authorities have insisted that South Stream must comply with the Third Energy Package even though the Third Energy Package came into existence only after the outline agreements for South Stream had been already reached.

    Compliance with the Third Energy Package would have meant that though Gazprom supplied the gas it could not own or control the pipeline through which gas was supplied.

    Were Gazprom to agree to this, it would acknowledge the EU’s authority over its operations. It would in that case undoubtedly face down the line more demands for more changes to its operating methods. Ultimately this would lead to demands for changes in the structure of the energy industry in Russia itself.

    What has just happened is that the Russians have said no. Rather than proceed with the project by submitting to European demands, which is what the Europeans expected, the Russians have to everyone’s astonishment instead pulled out of the whole project.

    This decision was completely unexpected. As I write this, the air is of full of angry complaints from south-eastern Europe that they were not consulted or informed of this decision in advance. Several politicians in south-eastern Europe (Bulgaria especially) are desperately clinging to the idea that the Russian announcement is a bluff (it isn’t) and that the project can still be saved. Since the Europeans cling to the belief that the Russians have no alternative to them as a customer, they were unable to anticipate and cannot now explain this decision.

    Here it is important to explain why South Stream is important to the countries of south-eastern Europe and to the European economy as a whole.

    All the south eastern European economies are in bad shape. For these countries South Stream was a vital investment and infrastructure project, securing their energy future. Moreover the transit fees that it promised would have been a major foreign currency earner.

    For the EU, the essential point is that it depends on Russian gas. There has been a vast amount of talk in Europe about seeking alternative supplies. Progress in that direction had been to put it mildly small. Quite simply alternative supplies do not exist in anything like the quantity needed to replace the gas Europe gets from Russia.

    There has been some brave talk of supplies of US liquefied natural gas replacing gas supplied by pipeline from Russia. Not only is such US gas inherently more expensive than Russian pipeline gas, hitting European consumers hard and hurting European competitiveness. It is unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Quite apart from the probable dampening effects of the recent oil price fall on the US shale industry, on past record the US as a voracious consumer of energy will consume most or all of the energy from shales it produces. It is unlikely to be in a position to export much to Europe. The facilities to do this anyway do not exist, and are unlikely to exist for some time if ever.

    Other possible sources of gas are problematic to say the least. Production of North Sea gas is falling. Imports of gas from north Africa and the Arabian Gulf are unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Gas from Iran is not available for political reasons. Whilst that might eventually change, the probability is when it does that the Iranians (like the Russians) will decide to direct their energy flow eastwards, towards India and China, rather than to Europe.

    For obvious reasons of geography Russia is the logical and most economic source of Europe’s gas. All alternatives come with economic and political costs that make them in the end unattractive.

    The EU's difficulties in finding alternative sources of gas were cruelly exposed by the debacle of the so-called another Nabucco pipeline project to bring Europe gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Though talked about for years in the end it never got off the ground because it never made economic sense.

    Meanwhile, whilst Europe talks about diversifying its supplies, it is Russia which is actually cutting the deals.

    Russia has sealed a key deal with Iran to swap Iranian oil for Russian industrial goods. Russia has also agreed to invest heavily in the Iranian nuclear industry. If and when sanctions on Iran are lifted the Europeans will find the Russians already there. Russia has just agreed a massive deal to supply gas to Turkey (about which more below). Overshadowing these deals are the two huge deals Russia has made this year to supply gas to China.

    Russia's energy resources are enormous but they are not infinite. The second deal done with China and the deal just done with Turkey redirect to these two countries gas that had previously been earmarked for Europe. The gas volumes involved in the Turkish deal almost exactly match those previously intended for South Stream. The Turkish deal replaces South Stream.

    These deals show that Russia had made a strategic decision this year to redirect its energy flow away from Europe. Though it will take time for the full effect to become clear, the consequences of that for Europe are grim. Europe is looking at a serious energy shortfall, which it will only be able to make up by buying energy at a much higher price.

    These Russian deals with China and Turkey have been criticised or even ridiculed for providing Russia with a lower price for its gas than that paid by Europe.

    The actual difference in price is not as great as some allege. Such criticism anyway overlooks the fact that price is only one part in a business relationship.

    By redirecting gas to China, Russia cements economic links with the country that it now considers its key strategic ally and which has (or which soon will have) the world’s biggest and fastest growing economy. By redirecting gas to Turkey, Russia consolidates a burgeoning relationship with Turkey of which it is now the biggest trading partner.

    Turkey is a key potential ally for Russia, consolidating Russia's position in the Caucasus and the Black Sea. It is also a country of 76 million people with a $1.5 trillion rapidly growing economy, which over the last two decades has become increasingly alienated and distanced from the EU and the West.

    By redirecting gas away from Europe, Russia by contrast leaves behind a market for its gas which is economically stagnant and which (as the events of this year have shown) is irremediably hostile. No one should be surprised that Russia has given up on a relationship from which it gets from its erstwhile partner an endless stream of threats and abuse, combined with moralising lectures, political meddling and now sanctions. No relationship, business or otherwise, can work that way and the one between Russia and Europe is no exception.

    I have said nothing about the Ukraine since in my opinion this has little bearing on this issue.

    South Stream was first conceived because of the Ukraine's continuous abuse of its position as a transit state - something which is likely to continue. It is important to say that this fact was acknowledged in Europe as much as in Russia. It was because the Ukraine perennially abuses its position as a transit state that the South Stream project had the grudging formal endorsement of the EU. Basically, the EU needs to circumvent the Ukraine to secure its energy supplies every bit as much as Russia wanted a route around the Ukraine to avoid it.

    The Ukraine’s friends in Washington and Brussels have never been happy about this, and have constantly lobbied against South Stream.

    The point is it was Russia which pulled the plug on South Stream when it had the option of going ahead with it by accepting the Europeans’ conditions. In other words the Russians consider the problems posed by the Ukraine as a transit state to be a lesser evil than the conditions the EU was attaching to South Stream .

    South Stream would take years to build and its cancellation therefore has no bearing on the current Ukrainian crisis. The Russians decided they could afford to cancel it is because they have decided Russia’s future is in selling its energy to China and Turkey and other states in Asia (more gas deals are pending with Korea and Japan and possibly also with Pakistan and India) than to Europe. Given that this is so, for Russia South Stream has lost its point. That is why in their characteristically direct way, rather than accept the Europeans’ conditions, the Russians pulled the plug on it.


    In doing so the Russians have called the Europeans’ bluff. So far from Russia being dependent on Europe as its energy customer, it is Europe which has antagonised, probably irreparably, its key economic partner and energy supplier.

    Before finishing I would however first say something about those who have come out worst of all from this affair. These are the corrupt and incompetent political pygmies who pretend to be the government of Bulgaria. Had these people had a modicum of dignity and self respect they would have told the EU Commission when it brought up the Third Energy Package to take a running jump. If Bulgaria had made clear its intention to press ahead with the South Stream project, there is no doubt it would have been built. There would of course have been an almighty row within the EU as Bulgaria openly flouted the Third Energy Package, but Bulgaria would have been acting in its national interests and would have had within the EU no shortage of friends. In the end it would have won through.

    Instead, under pressure from individuals like Senator John McCain, the Bulgarian leadership behaved like the provincial politicians they are, and tried to run at the same time with both the EU hare and the Russian hounds. The result of this imbecile policy is to offend Russia, Bulgaria's historic ally, whilst ensuring that the Russian gas which might have flown to Bulgaria and transformed the country, will instead flow to Turkey, Bulgaria's historic enemy.

    The Bulgarians are not the only ones to have acted in this craven fashion. All the EU countries, even those with historic ties to Russia, have supported the EU's various sanctions packages against Russia notwithstanding the doubts they have expressed about the policy. Last year Greece, another country with strong ties to Russia, pulled out of a deal to sell its natural gas company to Gazprom because the EU disapproved of it, even though it was Gazprom that offered the best price.

    This points to a larger moral. Whenever the Russians act in the way they have just done, the Europeans respond bafflement and anger, of which there is plenty around at the moment. The EU politicians who make the decisions that provoke these Russian actions seem to have this strange assumption that whilst it is fine for the EU to sanction Russia as much as it wishes, Russia will never do the same to the EU. When Russia does, there is astonishment, accompanied always by a flood of mendacious commentary about how Russia is behaving “aggressively” or “contrary to its interests” or has “suffered a defeat”. None of this is true as the rage and recriminations currently sweeping through the EU’s corridors (of which I am well informed) bear witness.

    In July the EU sought to cripple Russia’s oil industry by sanctioning the export of oil drilling technology to Russia. That attempt will certainly fail as Russia and the countries it trades with (including China and South Korea) are certainly capable of producing this technology themselves.

    By contrast through the deals it has made this year with China, Turkey and Iran, Russia has dealt a devastating blow to the energy future of the EU. A few years down the line Europeans will start to discover that moralising and bluff comes with a price. Regardless, by cancelling South Stream, Russia has imposed upon Europe the most effective of the sanctions we have seen this year. .
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

  3. #3

    Default

    Talking TurkeyPutin Gobsmacks Obama and Euro-Leaders with Surprise Gas Deal
    By Mike Whitney
    December 05, 2014 "ICH" - "Counterpunch" - On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin clinched a groundbreaking deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that will strengthen economic ties between the two nations and make Turkey the major hub for Russian gas in the region. Under the terms of the agreement, Russia will pump additional natural gas to locations in central Turkey and to a “hub at the Turkish-Greek border” which will eventually provide Putin with backdoor access to the lucrative EU market, although Turkey will serve as the critical intermediary. The move creates a de facto Russo-Turkey alliance that could shift the regional balance of power decisively in Moscow’s favor, thus creating another formidable hurtle for Washington’s “pivot to Asia” strategy. While the media is characterizing the change in plans (Putin has abandoned the South Stream pipeline project that would have transported gas to southern Europe) as a “diplomatic defeat” for Russia, the opposite appears to be the case. Putin has once again outmaneuvered the US on both the energy and geopolitical fronts adding to his long list of policy triumphs. Here’s a brief summary from Andrew Korybko at Sputnik News:
    “Russia has abandoned the troubled South Stream project and will now be building its replacement with Turkey. This monumental decision signals that Ankara has made its choice to reject Euro-Atlanticsm and embrace Eurasian integration.
    In what may possibly be the biggest move towards multipolarity thus far,..Turkey, has done away with its former Euro-Atlantic ambitions. A year ago, none of this would have been foreseeable, but the absolute failure of the US’ Mideast policy and the EU’s energy one made this stunning reversal possible in under a year. Turkey is still anticipated to have some privileged relations with the West, but the entire nature of the relationship has forever changed as the country officially engages in pragmatic multipolarity.
    Turkey’s leadership made a major move by sealing such a colossal deal with Russia in such a sensitive political environment, and the old friendship can never be restored…The reverberations are truly global.” (“Cold Turkey: Ankara Buckles Against Western Pressure, Turns to Russia”, Sputnik News)
    Korybko seems to be alone in grasping the magnitude of what happened in Ankara on Monday, although –judging by the Obama administration’s silence on the topic–the gravity of the transaction is beginning to sink in. Grandmaster Vlad’s latest move has caught US powerbrokers flat-footed and left them speechless. This is a scenario that no one had anticipated and, if it’s not handled correctly, could turn out to be a real nightmare. Here’s more on Monday’s press conference from Russia Today:
    “Putin said that Russia is ready to build a new pipeline to meet Turkey’s growing gas demand, which may include a special hub on the Turkish-Greek border for customers in southern Europe.
    For now, the supply of Russian gas to Turkey will be raised by 3 billion cubic meters via the already operating Blue Stream pipeline…Moscow will also reduce the gas price for Turkish customers by 6 percent from January 1, 2015, Putin said.
    “We are ready to further reduce gas prices along with the implementation of our joint large-scale projects,” he added.” (“Putin: Russia forced to withdraw from S. Stream project due to EU stance”, RT)
    How can this happen? How can Putin waltz into Ankara, scribble his name on a few sheets of paper, and abscond with a key US ally right under Washington’s nose? Isn’t there anyone at the White House who’s smart enough to anticipate a scenario like this or have they all been replaced with warmongering ding-dongs like Susan Rice and Samantha Powers?
    The Obama administration has been doing everything in its power to control the flow of gas from east to west and to undermine Russian-EU economic integration. Now it looks like the nimble Putin has found a way to avoid the economic sanctions, (Turkey rejected sanctions on Russia) avoid US coercion and blackmail (which was used on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Serbia), and avoid Washington’s endless belligerence and hostility, and achieve his objectives at the same time. But– then again– isn’t that what you’d expect from a level-headed martial arts pro like Putin?
    “I won’t beat you,” says Bad Vlad. “I’ll let you to beat yourself.”
    And, so he has. Just ask the befuddled Obama who has yet to prevail in any of his encounters with Putin.
    But why the silence? Why hasn’t the White House issued a statement about the big Russian-Turkey gas deal that everyone’s talking about?
    I’ll tell you why. It’s because they don’t know what the hell just hit them, that’s why. They were completely blindsided by the announcement and can’t quite figure out what it means for the issues that are on the very top of their foreign policy agenda, like the pivot to Asia, or the wars in Syria and Ukraine, or the much-ballyhooed gas pipeline from Qatar to the EU, that was supposed to transit– you guessed it– Turkey. Is that plan still in the works or has the Putin-Erdogan alliance put the kibosh on that gem too? Let’s face it, Putin has really knocked it out of the park this time. Team Obama is clearly out of its league and has no idea of what’s going on. If Turkey turns eastward and joins the growing Russian bloc, US policymakers are going to have to scrap the better part of their strategic plans for the coming century and go back to Square 1. What a headache.
    There’s a good article in Wednesday’s New York Times that summarizes Washington’s ambivalence towards South Stream perfectly. Here’s an excerpt:
    “Moscow has long presented the project, proposed in 2007, as making good business sense because it would provide a new route for Russian gas to reach Europe. Washington and Brussels have opposed the project on the grounds that it was a vehicle for cementing Russian influence over southern Europe and for bypassing Ukraine, whose price disputes with Gazprom twice interrupted supplies to Europe in recent years.”
    Putin’s Surprise Call to Scrap South Stream Gas Pipeline Leaves Europe Reeling”, New York Times)
    This has been the argument from the get-go, that selling gas to people in the EU somehow strengthens Putin’s maniacal grip on the continent. What a joke. Would you, dear reader, be willing turn off the heat, tear up your energy bill, and freeze to death in the dark to prove to your gas company that you’re not willing to capitulate to their tyrannical rule?
    Of course not, because the idea is ridiculous. Just like blocking South Stream is ridiculous. Putin is selling gas, not tyranny. He doesn’t want people clicking their heels and goosestepping to work. That’s just propaganda from the people in the oil industry who lost the competition for supplying fuel to the EU. Call it sour grapes if you want, because that’s what it is. Their pipeline failed, (Nabucco) and Putin’s won. End of story. It’s called capitalism. Deal with it.
    And here’s another thing: The countries that South Stream would have served, do not have a back-up supplier to meet their growing gas needs. So by following Washington’s lead, they’ve basically shot themselves in the foot. Analysts figure that any replacement for Russian gas will probably be 30 percent more expensive then they would have paid Gazprom.
    Hurrah for the US! Hurrah for stupidity!
    The US has been determined to sabotage South Stream from the very beginning, mainly because Washington wants its corporations and banks to control the flow of gas to the EU market through privately-owned pipelines in Ukraine. That way they can rake in bigger profits for their moneybags shareholders. Without going into too much detail about the various methods the US has used to torpedo the project, there’s one story that’s worth a look. This is from Zero Hedge:
    “…two months before the Ukraine government was overthrown the prime minister of Bulgaria, Plamen Oresharski, ordered a halt to work on the South Stream on the recommendation of the EU. The decision was announced after his talks with US senators.
    “At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we’ve suspended the current works, I ordered it,” Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. “Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels.”
    At the time McCain, commenting on the situation, said that “Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues,” adding that in the current situation they would want “less Russian involvement” in the project.
    “America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn’t like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all,” (said)Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT.” (“Europe Gives Bulgaria A Bank System Lifeline As Battle Over “South Stream” Pipeline Heats Up”, Zero Hedge)
    Let me get this straight: Madman McCain strolls into town and immediately starts ordering people around telling them he wants “less Russian involvement”, and that’s enough to bring South Stream to a screeching halt? Is that what you’re telling me?
    Yep. Sure sounds like it.
    Does that help you see what’s really going here? This isn’t about Putin. It’s about gas, and who’s going to profit from that gas, and in whose currency that gas will be denominated. That’s what it’s about. The rest of the nonsense about “Russian involvement” or terrorism or human rights or national sovereignty is just gibberish. The people who run this country (like McCain), don’t care about that kind of stuff. What they care about is money; money and power. That’s it.
    So what are they going to do now? How are the big powerboys in Washington going to express their rage over this new threat created by Putin and Erdogan?
    It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out, after all, we’ve seen it a million times before.
    They’re going to go after Erdogan hammer and tongs. That’s what they always do, isn’t it?
    The only reason they haven’t started in already is because they’re getting their propaganda ducks in a row, which usually takes a day or two. But as soon as that’s taken care of, they’ll start dismantling old Recep one excruciating headline at a time. Erdogan is going to be the new Hitler and the greatest threat to humanity the world has ever seen. You can bet on it.
    Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds thinks that Washington has had-it-in for Erdogan a long time now, dating back to a dust up he had with the CIA a few years back. In any event, she gives a pretty good account of what we can expect now that Erdogan is on Washington’s enemies list. Here’s a clip from her post at Boiling Frogs:
    “We all know what happens to those puppets when they end up in a rift with the CIA. Don’t we? The rift always brings expiration. Once a puppet is considered expired, then lo and behold, all of a sudden, the reversal branding and marketing begins: All old skeletons are dug out of the deep closets and leaked to the media. His previously overlooked human rights violations are looked at and scrutinized under a microscope. The terrorist card is brought into the equation. And the list goes on…
    … All Empire-installed puppets and regimes must commit to the Empire’s commandments….Thou shall not violate the Imperial commandments. Because if you do, thou shall be disgraced, exposed, uninstalled, and may even be given death. All you have to do is look at the past century’s history. See what happens when an installed puppet gets too confident and inflicted with hubris, and ignores one or more commandments. This is when they are reborn as dictators, despots, torturers, and yes, terrorists. This is when their backyards get dug up to find a few grams of weapons of mass destruction.”…
    No matter how we look at it Erdogan’s days are numbered … Anyone who ever dares to be this reckless will be punished and made an example for all other installed-puppets…” (“Turkish PM Erdogan: The Speedy Transformation of an Imperial Puppet”, BFP)
    So there it is. That’s what you can expect by the end of the week when the media starts their full-throttle demonizing of Erdogan, the man who dared to act independently and put the interests of his own people above those of the Washington mob bosses. As anyone who’s followed US foreign policy for the last 60 years will tell you; that’s a big no-no.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/05/talking-turkey/
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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