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How will Russia and Iran respond to the US challenge in the Caspian Sea?

As the US intrudes itself into the strategically important Caspian region, how will Russia and Iran respond?

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On May 5 2018 Kazakhstan ratified an agreement with the US for the transit of US military cargo and possibly even troops (under the euphemism of ‘advisors’ or ‘engineers’) to Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea route.

The ostensible reason is that the US’s long established supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan are now ‘under threat’.  However, as is often the case nowadays, the reality is rather more complicated.

Just five months before the agreement was reached, in December 2017, purportedly at the instigation of the businessman Anatolie Stati who is involved in a longstanding legal dispute with the Kazakh authorities, the Bank of New York Mellon froze $22.6 billion of funds belonging to Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

The May transit agreement between Kazakhstan and the US which followed shows that, as we say in Russia, ‘the subject (in this case Kazakhstan) got the message.’

This little piece of economic pressure shows that what is involved is more than just a logistical arrangement for a war in Afghanistan which the US anyway seems keen – presumably for its own reasons – to perpetuate indefinitely.

The effect of the agreement is that the US now has a presence in the two east Caspian ports of Aktau and Kuryk.  Though this has been done ostensibly in order to transfer US supplies to Afghanistan, in reality it gives the US for the first time a military presence in the Caspian Sea, which until then had been exclusively an ‘inner lake’ of the countries which surround it.

The two Caspian Sea states which are the most affected are Russia and Iran, the two Caspian Sea ‘giants’ which between them account for by far the greater share of the combined GDP of the Caspian Sea littoral states.  Not coincidentally they are the two Caspian Sea littoral states with the worst relations with Washington.

In the case of Russia there is a particular military dimension to the arrival of a US military presence in the Caspian Sea, in that Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla has launched cruise missile strikes on Jihadi fighters engaged in the war in Syria.

This revelation of the great strategic importance of Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla has seriously alarmed Washington, and has given the US a particular reason for wanting to establish a military presence in the Caspian Sea, from where it can keep track of Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla, and potentially even in time pose a challenge to it.

In the case of Iran, a US military presence in the Caspian Sea creates a new potential US military threat to Iran from the north, balancing the US threat to Iran from the south provided by the large US naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the US military bases located there.

So the big question is how will the two ‘Caspian giants’ – Russia and Iran – respond to this challenge?  Will they work together to confront it, as they have worked together successfully to confront the joint challenge they have faced in Syria?

Will they in fact forge a strategic partnership with each other to confront the potential threat in the Caspian Sea that they both now face, possibly along the lines of the partnership which exists between the US and Britain?

I ask this question because the current reality is very different.  So far from Russia and Iran working closely together on anything, the wheels of their cooperation on the contrary are clogged up with bureaucratic mud.

Anyone who has ever tried to make a bank transfer from Russia to Iran will know exactly what I mean.  Moreover if you want to fly to Tehran from say the Urals – perhaps from the Yekaterinburg industrial region — you will find that you have to add a whole day to your journey because you have to transit through Moscow.

It is just as bad on the other side. Tabriz international airport in Iran offers direct flights to Batumi, Tbilisi and Yerevan, but not to Krasnodar, southern Russia’s economic capital with a population of three quarters of a million people, notwithstanding that it should take no more than an hour and a half’s flight to get there.

Last but not the least, whilst there is a trans-Caspian cargo ferryboat between Astrakhan in Russia and Bandar-e Anzali in Iran, did you ever hear of a passenger one?  Hardly, because none exists.

There is an old Russian saying that every problem has its first name, patronymic and surname.  In the case of the total lack of even basic economic coordination between Moscow and Tehran it’s not actually difficult to see what this problem is.

Quite simply, some people in authority in both countries (we won’t say who they are) see their potential Caspian Sea partner as at best an unimportant “second order” friend, and perhaps in some cases even as a potential enemy.

Russia and Iran can – if they have the will – together with their partners form a common market of 250 million people.

That would provide them with the best – perhaps the only – security there is against the sanctions, restrictions, threats and incantations which, regular as clockwork, come from the West’s self-proclaimed guardians of “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

The alternative is to allow the Caspian Sea to become a Sea of Troubles, with the West’s “humanitarian missiles” certain to follow close behind.

With the US now establishing a presence in the Caspian Sea the time for Russia and Iran to start seriously working together is now.

The author is an international correspondent for Russia’s largest circulation newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda

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AM HantscolumtomAndrew OrrTommy Jensen Recent comment authors
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AM Hants
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AM Hants

I thought the Caspian was off limits, to those who do not border the Sea, owing to keeping it secure?

colum
Guest
colum

[Cough] Cough] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twt2YPXprgo

Go to 1:30 in the vid

tom
Guest
tom

“On May 5 2018 Kazakhstan ratified an agreement with the US for the transit of US military cargo and possibly even troops (under the euphemism of ‘advisors’ or ‘engineers’) to Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea route”.

Why would the Kazakh government do that?

“The ostensible reason is that the US’s long established supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan are now ‘under threat’”.

And that is the Kazakh government and people’s problem why?

Methinks I spy money at work again…

tom
Guest
tom

Asian governments need to arrive at a formal understanding that anyone helping the USA to establish military bases – or giving it any potential military help of any kind – on or near the continent of Asia will feel the strong and effective disapproval of all its Asian neighbours.

Just as a householder who encourages armed and murderous drug dealers to enter his street should be told, in no uncertain terms, that either the intruders go – or he goes too.

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

How will Borat respond?

Tommy Jensen
Guest
Tommy Jensen

Guess Israel is making the leverage again. Russia wants to be friends with Israel, thereforethey cant be too close friends with Iran. Thus friendship with Iran become a strategic issue of interests.: Dragging out S-300 deal “to please our Western partners”, dragging out S-300 to Syria which would strenghten Syria-Iran axis “to please our Western partners”, keeping UNSC sanctions against Iran “to please our Western partners”. Iran has to rebalance these Russian interests and try to vector toward China and EU instead. Finally both Russia and Iran are betting and riding on too many horses and their pants crack, because… Read more »

fredd
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fredd

to transfer US supplies to Afghanistan
and how will the US get these supplies in to Kazakhstan?
because it borders into russia and china and is landlocked except the Caspian Sea

wwinsti
Guest
wwinsti

Iran/Russia need to get over their differences fast, if not, you’ll wind up with another US base between both countries, bristling with antennas, listening stations, and probably an X-ban radar. Hate to frame it this way, but 22 billion is a low price to buy out the Kazakhs.

Ugh...
Guest
Ugh...

The cancer spreads

pooi-hoong chan
Guest
pooi-hoong chan

US not only ptactise military terrorism, it also engage in financial terrorism by freezing USD 22 billion of Kazahkstan sovereign wealth fund.

HappyCynic
Guest
HappyCynic

The lesson Kazakhstan learned from this is not to keep US dollars on deposit in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazakhstan started buying gold. Russia clearly understands this, and doesn’t keep much money in US banks and reduced it’s holdings of US Treasury bills by 50% recently. Russia is also likely to stop keeping money in the EU (look at they way EU countries are trying to cheat Russia – Yukos and Ukraine being prime examples). Gold is a much safer way to store value. Then the question becomes how Russia will get payment for the gas and… Read more »

andyoldlabour
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andyoldlabour

This article is confusing me slightly.
The Caspian is totally landlocked (the only real inlet being the mighty Volga River), a brown water sea/lake.
Kazakhstan is home to the largest and oldest space centre on the planet, the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Russia has a couple of naval bases in the Caspian, which hosts a number of guided missile corvettes/frigates.
I am still confused as to how the US can rock up with military without being challenged?

Nexusfast123
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Nexusfast123

Maybe Russia, Iran and China start to make life in Afghanistan really uncomfortable for the US.

Essene Gnostic
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Essene Gnostic

This is all a Freemasonic charade.

Bessarabyn
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Bessarabyn

Spot on ! Thanks !

normski1
Guest
normski1

As the Caspian Sea is land locked, Russia and Iran have nothing to worry about as the USA cannot station any of it’s war ships in the Caspian Sea. At best, all the USA can do is lease transport ships from a “friendly” country – the Caspian Sea is Russia’s and Iran’s play ground!.

Guy
Guest
Guy

If the banks can freeze funds owned by other nations that easily then every nation in the world should pay special attention to what they are doing investing with Western/US banks.
This is typical modus operendi for the Amerikans .maybe soon they will be begging for foreign investment given the way that the US is alienating everyone with their sanctions and the immanent collapse of the
US $.

Dr. Ronald Cutburth
Guest
Dr. Ronald Cutburth

There ya go again. Russia smashes ISIS from the Caspian sea and makes it the IN place to be. Those that don’t have ships there are simply out of style. Russia will charge them a huge fee to pass through Russian territory to get there. Russia will need to inspect their ships and make them pay the new Tariff in gold. No?

ghifarix@gmail.com
Guest

When a nation /enemy is destined to be destroyed it is always brought closer to its fate……Let the foolish Yankee spread their wings, after time they won’t be in a position to negotiate or escape it’s inevitable demise. How else you’d put down a giant but getting closer to it? In this case let the giant close in, therein lie its fate.

PapaGuns
Guest
PapaGuns

https://eadaily.com/en/news/2018/04/25/kazakhstan-opens-caspian-sea-for-usa

sovereign countries are no longer allowed to make treaties? who knew?

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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