The Eurasian Pipeline Calculus

Published on, by F William Engdahl, 19 June 2009.

Calculus has two main variants—derivative and integral. The Eurasian energy pipeline geopolitics between Turkey Washington and Moscow today has elements of both. It is highly derivative in that the major actors across Central Asia from China, Russia to Turkey are very much engaged in a derived power game which has less to do with any specific state and more to do with maintaining Superpower hegemony for Washington. Integral as the de facto motion of various pipeline projects now underway or in discussion across Eurasia hold the potential to integrate the economic space of Eurasia in a way that poses a fundamental challenge to Washington’s projection of Full Spectrum Dominance over the greatest land mass on earth.

Since at least the time of the Crimean War of 1853, Turkey has played a strategic role in modern Eurasian and European developments. In the 1850’s Ottoman Turkey became a target of Great Power imperial ambitions as Britain and France sought to take advantage of tensions between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in order to weaken and ultimately take vital parts of that weakened empire …

… A Washington Great Game?

However the question of Turkish-EU relations is linked with the issue of Turkish membership into the EU, a move vehemently opposed by France and also less openly so by Germany, and strongly backed by Washington.

Washington is clearly playing what some call ‘a deeper game.’ Obama’s backing for Turkey’s application for EU membership comes with a heavy price. As the US is no member of the EU it was an attempt to try to curry favor with the Erdogan government. Since the April Obama visit, Ankara has begun to discuss an agreement with Armenia including diplomatic relations.

A Turkish accord with Armenia would change the balance of power in the entire region. Since the August 2008 Georgia-Russia conflict the Caucasus, a strategically vital area has been unstable. Russian troops remain in South Ossetia. Russia also has troops in Armenia meaning Russia has Georgia surrounded.

Turkey is the key link in this complex game of geopolitical balance of power between Washington and Moscow. If Turkey decides to collaborate with Russia Georgia’s position becomes insecure and Azerbaijan’s possible pipeline route to Europe is blocked. If Turkey decides to cooperate with Washington and at the same time reaches a stable agreement with Armenia under US nudging, Russia’s entire position in the Caucasus is weakened and an alternative route for natural gas to Europe becomes available, reducing Russian leverage with Western Europe.

This past March a memorandum was signed between the Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR and Russia’s Gazprom for major deliveries of Azerbaijan natural gas to Russia by January 2010.

Azerbaijan is the only state outside Iran that would likely supply gas to the planned EU Nabucco pipeline from Azerbaijan through Turkey to south-eastern Europe. Russia has proposed South Stream as an alternative to the Nabucco project, also in need of Azerbaijan gas, so in effect Russia weakens the chances of realization of Nabucco. (full long text).

Link: Die eurasische Pipeline-Rechnung aus der Sicht Ankaras, Moskaus und Washingtons, by F. William Engdahl.

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