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THE YUGOSLAVIA WAR: THE CAUCASIAN TEMPTATION AND THE CREATION OF NEW GEOSTRATEGIC SPACES
Federico García Morales
With the war of Yugoslavia we are confronted with massive changes: we see former socialists and democrats become confirmed militants and advocates of an imperialist war. All of them choking on rhetoric taken from Hitler or Thatcher: the agressive rhetoric of the absolute power.
But we also see changes with regard to geostrategic spaces, that gain importance for the "exercise of the will". In this last aspect, we are before the creation of a new geostrategic space, where the economic and military forces of the Atlantic powers head towards the conquest and resdistribution of big regions from Central Asia.
We are witnesses also of an institutional change at a global level; overnight, NATO substitutes the United Nations; the Europen Communty is summerged by the American interests, under the rythm of military impositions which substitute democratic discussions. And we wake up before the "grand" scenario of a new world war.
The most visible preface to this situation can be found in the collapse of the USSR, some 10 years ago, in the Gulf war and finally, in the Balkan war which brought forth the decomposition of Yugoslavia. More silent, and not a very well known preamble is in the capitalistic transformation of the Commonwealth of Indeopendent States (CIS), and with these, the very agressive entrance of the transnational capital, particularly in Siberia and into the Caspian region.
Gradually, the destruction of Yugoslavia pushes forward the construction of "the new Order" in the Balkans, where the NATO partners assume the different regions as their protectorates.
The violent decomposition of the Balkanic map also alters the situation of Turkey, which appear with areas of interest in its borders with Iraq and Iran, in the Caucasus, as well as in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Macedonia....
.All this, whic at the moment gives us an "end of the world" version with the NATO assault on the Yugoslav Republic, will expand in a greater scenario with the contination of the dismemberment of the former USSR, with regard to the Black Sea and Caspian regions, and deep inside into the Eurasiatic block. All these places, become relevants due to the abundance of oil, and to a certain disposition to serve the expansion of any capitalist design.
Their oil situation need not be emphasized. It has been strategically important since before the First Great War. And for a couple of years, their strategic importance has been recognized by the Congres of the United States and by numerous declarations of the northamerican President. Also by the The World Bank, which took under its guidance, the capitalist reversion of the USSR, overstimulating the oil business and the opening of doors to transnational capital, with the idea of building an "enclave economy", the formation of which has been at the expense of the people of the former Soviet Union, who will have to swallow the debts of the oil investments. With the final result being that Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan. Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, Georgia, etc., are now the subject of the "manifest destiny", an area for colonial expansion, in regard to their oil resources (not to talk about uranium). Their situation feets in perfectly with the NATO powers design of controlling the energy resources in the next century.
The attention sot on the regions "behind " the Balkans, give the Balkans their actual importance, incerting these regions in the amplification of the strategic frame in which the current political and military movements should be judged. The war of Kosovo is , in this sense, a delicate and brutal mechanism chosen "for humanitarian reasons"(!) to define the situation in the greater frame. The relevance of this strategic design is done by the decisive displacement of Russia as the controller of the wealth of its "near east" and of the countries in which these are found. It is a movement launched with the force of a real "coup d'état" --that in its impetuosity, pushed aside the United Nations, the international law and put in control of the world situation a military staff.
In recent years, the conflict in the former USSR had taken, during some time, the shape of a struggle for the opening of the area for western investments; it took also the form of big mergings between russian or local private companies and foreign capital; the shape of ferociously competitive projects, and lately, with the advance of the economic crisis, new mergings of big companies. The main actors were Gazprom, Lukoil, Yuganskneftegaz, by the russian side, and Exxon, Chevron, AMOCO, Shell, Mobil, Penzzoil,etc., by the Wester side (or OTAN, as it is known today).
One dimension of this conflict between oil giants, was displaced to the interior of the former USSR, particuoarly to Western Siberia and the Caspian States. It was a struggle for areas of exploration
and direct explotation, as was done in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. There was a tendency to reorganize spaces and frontiers, and so, to cause great conflicts, like the Najno Kharavaj war, at the Armenian/Azeri zone. Or the cruent Tchechenya war. The arrival of foreign capital also helped to profile the fight for power everuwhere, and was helpful for the triumph of "renovated" aparatchiks, like Sheverdnadze in Georgia, Nazabaev in Khazajstan and Aliyev in Azerbaijan. (These figures continue as important pawns in the current phase of the conflict).
Then, the problem was how to manage the outlet of the immense richess that were opened to exploitation: it was about moving trillons of tons of gas, millons of oil barrels. An with this, it was about modifying commercially big spaces of Central Asia.
Since the times of the USSR, the Russians had managed and continued to sustain control over the Caucasian states by controlling the pipe-lines which brought the oil out to the other republics (of the CIS now).after this exportation could be considered. Under this logic, in the future, pipes from Baku in Azerbaijan, should be directed through the States of the Black Sea to Ukrain, and from there to Europe or other places. Or they could be directed to the port of Novossyisk, in the Black Sea, to be embarked to Bourgas in Bulgary, and then crossed over ,again by pipes, to Alexandropolis in the Greek Aegean . Gaz, according to a Gazprom project, could be pumped from Crimea, through submarine pipes, to Turkey. All of these projects were centered geostrategically on the maintenance of relations between Russia and the Caspian States, and still made feasible the development of the CIS states. These projects accepted any federalist reorganization in the Balkans, wether it be the reconstruction of the Yugoslav Federation or the construction of the Great Serbia, or even their integration to the CIS. But these ventures were full of inconsistencies and claudications, commited as they were, in the fundamental, with the opening of the markets.
However, alternative projects appeared where the central role was assumed by the USA and its main allies in NATO. This project is visiblly about originating a definite sesession of the territories in Central Asia of the former USSR, and to bury any non-colonialist project in the East. In this situation, it's about controlling the extraction of gas and oil, and its transport through pipes in the hands of the West's big transnational companies, which should pass through territories which guarantee in full this dominion: its ownership and security; its should pass throug Turkey. For a couple of years now, the project of running pipes from Baku to Cehyan, on the Turkish coast, near Syria, was originated. The Caspian-Cehyan project offers a greater capacity to transport large volumes, but above all, it separates Russia from its "Near East", and it inevitabily gives the Western Powers control over the energy resources for the next century. These powers are now respresented in NATO. And NATO, for a few years now, has not been distant to the Caspian. Their representatives met, precisely in Baku and signed the start to their project TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Central Asia), while their military part undertook maneuvers in the zone (Operation BAT) notwithstanding the Russians' scandal.
To personalize these oily situation of the international politics:
One assitant to the Baku meeting was the current NATO's Secretary General, Solana. Another personality
Who had time to become familiar with the oil business was Chernomyrdin (Gazprom's former president, and negotiator a few years back of the handing over of the Siberian oil to AMOCO), who has now been designated by Yeltsin as the best man to find a solution to the conflict in Kosovo. A conflict which has grown enormeously, in a clear attempt to dismantle any formula to run oil through these areas, burying projects, like AMBO (with its pipe through the Balkans), which has made various Balkan states, like Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, dream of living off taxes imposed on the pipe.lines.
It is clear that a pipe-line will not be able to function in the midst of a state of war. That the oil transport will not be able to function in this area with blockades. Currently, the way things are going, a grave problem begins to present itself for the Russian oil and for their projects: and it's that they are being locked in the Black Sea.
In his negotiations to solve the Balkan conflict, Chernomyrdin had to make a forced stop in Azerbaijan. Maybe only to hear, with his own ears, his old comrade Aliyev, tell him "how preocupied he was on the problems in Kharavaj, he hadn't any time to dedicate to the Balcans..." which was an oblique way of stating former resentments and telling the Russians he had already celebrated his bethrodal with NATO. This piece of oratory is probably being mused over by Russia, Georgia, Chechenya, Ukrain,Belorus... and they're beginning to realice, after the Orthodox pope, that Kosovo is the key to the Caucasus, and all that this means to them.
Deep down in this dispute "for the silk route" there are problems which will weigh upon the descisions that will be made. On NATO's side, it is clear that for a long time the transnationals assert very quickly their orientations through the state apparatuses. Their financial and industrial interests control the military manouvers and dictate their new aims of expansion. In the Russian case, who are the actual adversaries --not Milosevic, no matter how hard they are trying to disembowel him-- the growing capitalistic concentration (that is not so ruined as it is suposed) contains a strong element of displacement with regard to the State. The capital has been built there on an ambivalent relation with the state, but basically with its back turned and against the society. In this way, the big private consortiums of the East have been confirming their own systems of aliances, association and subordination with respect to the transnational capital.
In order to appreciate the limits of the "main Characters" --obviously the transtionals--one must appreciate the great investments they have been making in the territories of the former USSR, the intent of their integration as well as their diffrences; and to what extend they are manageable, when they deal with the problem of the control of the big holdings. Fusions must also be considered, which can temporarily close chapters of confrontation or open new ones. This is a process that continues open.
However, there are other agents that must be kept in mindd in the current conjuncture: the arrival of another mass of interests, which respond to the war calls, those that arise from the speculative corners of a world economy in crisis; and those that come from the military-industrial complex, which are at least in USA, in the rise. They are also slipping into the new geostrategic space, and they believe they can conform it.
In this way, the oil interests light the spark and the rest add the fire.
Meanwhile, NATO shakes the tree in the Balkans, and hopes the apples will fall in Turkey (allthough hope still subsist that something different from apples will fal...) Already, in their 50th Anniversary meeting, NATO rejects Russia's mediation in the conflict with Yugoslavia, and sends this nation an ultimatum: either you accept to be invaded ... or total destruction. NATO also imposes an oil embargo. The curious part of this meeting was, that for the applause, not only foes Clinton have his faithful Solana, but also the presidents of the different Caspian states and Southern Russians, whor arrived, dragging their chains to adorn the imperial retinue. Their assistance speaks for itself about the causes of the war in the Balkans. Someday, historians will say they were there as a consequence...
The Kosovo War, a decision made by people like Albright, Clinton, Blair, Josepin,Schroeder...and the rest of the gang, tosses over their shoulders the responsability of many years of wars in that enormeous space, ¿or abyss? they opened. Anyhow, to conclude, we are before the recomposition of the geostrategic map, not only of the Balkans, but of the world, in a manner not seen since the highest moments of colonialism. Occurring as it does, amid the tensions of the end of the century where nothing can make us suppose that this recomposition will occur in kind terms. There are too many signs that these modifications, made through a real global coup d'ëtat, destroying all the international world order and signaled by a militarist and authoritarian substitution of the United Nations, will share the same luck as those modifications attempted by the Keiser or by Hitler.
Clinton's war, has not wakened unanimities: on the contrary, objections and the most serious resistances are growing everyday, which undoubtedly are going to show themselves on an extremly altered ideological and social map.