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The struggle in the CaucasusThe current events in Daghestan are an extension to what America had started in Chechenia. In order to perceive the reality of the struggle, it is imperative to recognise the strategic importance of that region. The importance of the Caspian Sea region is reflected in the presence of huge oil resources. The Western media describes that region as being “The Second Gulf” and “The Gulf of the 21st Century” . Daghestan contains huge oil and gas reserves and she represents a geographical extension to the Azerbaijan oil fields. She also occupies about half of the Russian coastline on the Caspian Sea. Daghestan is also considered as a principal passageway to the Caucasian and the Caspian Sea oils, for it is through Daghestan that the main part of this oil is transported to the Russian seaport of Novorossisyk on the Black Sea and via Chechenia and the Southern Russian regions (The Southern Pipeline). The northern oil pipeline coming from Kazakhestan, carrying the oil of Tangeer and Mangyshlak fields, passes through north Daghestan and Chechenia and reaches the seaport of Novorossisyk. Daghestan represents also a golden gate to the Caspian Sea, for it is over her lands that the two main Russian ports on the Caspian Sea are situated; these are Makhachkla and Derbent.
In the wake of the Chechen breakaway, Russia set about building another oil pipeline, avoiding the Chechen lands and passing through other Russian region, to reach the Black Sea via Daghestan.
The United States for her part is planning to lay several pipelines to transport oil and gas from the countries of the Caspian Sea basin to the Black Sea, such as the pipeline of Baku- Tbilissi, towards the Georgian seaport of Sochi on the Black Sea then towards the seaport of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean, in south east Turkey. The first phase of this project is about to be completed and preparations are taking place to start the second phase of the project. Among these preparations is the settlement of the Turkish Kurds issue, because the oil pipelines passes through their lands; this prompted America to speed up the settlement of the Turkish Kurds.
Vladimir Koslof, the Vice-President of the Russian Federation’s Anti Terrorist Branch, stated for his part that some elements in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had financed the rebels in Daghestan. He however denied the involvement of the two governments with regard to the sponsoring of the rebels.
The United States aims at dominating the Caucasus in order to secure the continuous flow of oil and the control of that region. She is also endeavouring to fragment the Russian Federation and isolate Russia from the areas of influence in order to weaken her and make her unable to rid herself from the shackles of the United States. On the other hand, she endeavours to gain the biggest slice of the petroleum cake in that region. This is what prompted America to place that region within the strategic scope of Nato and then to expand it in order for its influence to engulf the states of that region, excluding Tajekistan, by allowing them to partake in the project of “Partnership for Peace”
Therefore, the nationalist and religious conflicts that flared up the Caucasus region were intended to generate for America the suitable atmosphere to infiltrate the region and intervene in order to carry out the plans that allow her to spread her hegemony. She has succeeded in attracting many of the states of the region and persuaded them to affiliate themselves with her, such as Azerbaijan, who fell into the trap of embracing America in the wake of the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorna Karabach region. Iran then supported Armenia and this led Azerbaijan to determine her stance towards the international alliances; thus she leant towards the United States and Turkey. As a result, the American companies gained the lion’s share in terms of investment in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan offered America the transfer of her air base Incerlik to her lands. This was also the case with Georgia, where the ethnic conflict in Abkazia and the victory of the Abkazian ethnic movement were used by Tbilissi as a pretext to strengthen her relationship with the United States. Military manoeuvres involving Georgian, Atlantic and American forces took place in the Black Sea and a Georgian Turkish rapprochement also took place, and this was deemed as a prelude towards involving Georgia in the future pipelines projects, from the Caspian Sea through her lands, to the Black Sea and then to the Turkish seaports and from there to the West.
However, the outcomes of the Daghestan conflict are not as guaranteed as that of Chechenia, because the demographic and geographical composition of Daghestan differs from that of Chechenia. Daghestan is in fact a blend of about thirty tribes, and she consists of mountainous areas in the west near Chechenia, but the eastern areas are flat in the east towards the Caspian Sea. This means that the guerrilla warfare tactics which the fighters in Daghestan are following will not be suitable from a strategic viewpoint if the conflict were to spread eastwards in the level lands. This will make the desired results hard to achieve. This explains the shift of tactics and the attacks inside Russia, reflected in the recent bombings in Moscow, which were aimed at influencing Russian public opinion in a manner that serves the aim sought by the fighters in Daghestan. However, the scale of these bombings and their spread, coupled with the Daghestani rebels’ denial of any involvement, suggests that Russian elements were behind them. The bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities will lead to raising the political temperature in Moscow and will pave the way for Russia’s strongman, General Alexander Lebed to become the future Russian president, for he will have the experience to deal with Daghestan; he succeeded in ending the 1994/1996 war in Chechenia, and that solution led to the effective end of Russian dominance over Chechenia.
The Media Forum of Hizb ut-Tahrir
23 Jumadah Al-Akhirah 1420h
3 October 1999