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The Sport of the Gods: what is the likely outcome of the Catalan referendum

Instead of leading the political and economic regeneration of Spain Catalonia’s leaders are taking their region down a reactionary blind alley

Haneul Na'avi

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Republished with the author’s permission; first published by Dialectic Productions

“This is the debt I pay/ Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief/ Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end/ Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release/ Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought/ Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best/ God! but the interest!”

The Debt”, Paul Lawrence Dunbar

The October 1st Catalonian referendum, held across the region, quickly became marred with controversy following the Spanish Civil Guard’s violent crackdown, which quickly sowed antipathy between Catalans and the Spanish central government.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s brutal repression of voters at polling stations, which injured almost 900 people, and unilateral seizure of the referendum site, revealed a medieval, antiquated sentiment towards Catalonians unseen since the 1930s Francisco Franco dictatorship.

In his panic, Rajoy decried the referendum illegal (which it technically was, according to Section 148, Clause 1-32a of the Spanish constitution), his counterproductive actions merely emboldened Catalonians and incurred condemnation from the European bureaucracy.

As a result, 2.2 out of 5.3 million (29%) eligible Catalonians voted 90% in favour of independence, encouraging regional Prime Minister Charles Puigdemont to boldy call for secession within “a matter of days”.

The referendum comes years after the Spanish parliament retrenched parts of the Catalonian government’s 2006 Statute of Autonomy, to which, according to Catalonia Votes,

[…] was drastically altered by a controversial court ruling in 2010. Catalonia’s proposal for greater fiscal autonomy was then rejected [and attacks] against Catalonia’s education system and linguistic rights [also] increased and more and more recentralisation measures are being taken.

The Atlantic elaborates further,

Of the statute’s 223 articles, the court struck down 14 and curtailed another 27 [as well as] attempts to place the distinctive Catalan language above Spanish in the region [stating], “The interpretation of the references to ‘Catalonia as a nation’ and to ‘the national reality of Catalonia’ in the preamble of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia have no legal effect.”

Despite the referendum’s initial successes and intense nationalist sentiments, inklings of dissent within Catalonia’s class strata have already begun to betray the populist revolution.

A day after the referendum, Deutsche Welle mentioned that,

[…] it would be highly unlikely that any EU state would recognize [Catalonia’s] independence. Such a direct attack on EU member state Spain would lead to a crisis within the bloc [and] why many EU diplomats in Brussels cannot imagine this scenario.

This analysis proved true as events took at turn for the worst, when European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans ignored Puigdemont’s pleas for an EU intervention.

Instead, he delegated this to European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, who responded that,

For the European Commission … this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with [its] constitutional order,” and “[we] trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process.”

Most shockingly, however, was the Worker’s General Union (UGT) and Worker’s Commissions (CCOO) joint statement, which, contrary to popular opinion, did notcall for a general strike, but a

[…] ’go-slow’ of public transport services [at] 25 percent capacity during the morning and evening rush hours [and] Inter-regional transport services [at] 33 percent capacity.

It explains further,

UGT’s General Secretary, Pepe Álvarez, has reminded that “this is a political conflict and it needs political solutions.” […] Social mobilization in Catalonia has been unquestionable and it expresses, with no doubt, the existence of a political conflict which cannot be handled unilaterally by the Catalan Government, or exclusively from administrative and judicial points of view.

Russia Today also reports that,

The two most powerful national unions have called on workers to show solidarity in the face of “disproportionate” violence employed by the police and Guardia Civil but have not called for a Spanish general strike as the situation does not relate to a labor conflict but a political one.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau seconded this days before the referendum,

We are not just facing an institutional dispute but also a social and political conflict that clearly has to be resolved by political means. There are many non-separatists such as ourselves, who, while critical of the unilateral path taken by the Catalan regional government, are calling for a negotiated solution in accordance with the feelings of 82% of the Catalan population [and] it is my obligation [to] call on the European commission to open a space for mediation between the Spanish and Catalan governments to find a negotiated and democratic solution to the conflict.

This is because a month prior, the CCOO published a report lambasting the high levels of unemployment in Catalonia and diminished collective bargaining rights amongst its trade unions, which it blames on the 2012 National Appeals’ ruling and Labour Market Reform Act, stressing that it and UGT are currently in negotiations with the Spanish government to resolve this.

The think tank Worker Participation explains further,

A recent major tripartite agreement [signed] in February 2011 [was] an agreement on pensions, but it also [included] measures to reduce unemployment, industrial and energy policy, a promise by the government to reopen talks with the unions on the public sector, and reforming the collective bargaining system.

It continues,

In 2011, the socialist-led government introduced legal changes (RDL 7/2011) giving a greater role to company bargaining and the current centre-right government [added] legislation in 2012 (Ley 3/2012) – developments which the unions have opposed.

This gives rise to a massive contradiction within the independence movement, which is a conflict of interests between the Catalonian regional government and various bureaucracies within its wealthiest cities, whom, due to their class standing, could undermine Puigdemont in order to make a compromise with the Rajoy administration on its coveted pensions campaign.

The myth of immutable social systems

The Catalans, according to the media, are pushing for independence based on their ‘cultural repression’ by the Spanish central government. However, according to historical materialism, one cannot determine historical events based on culture alone.

Former USSR Premier Joseph Stalin defines the driving force of historical materialism as,

[the] method of procuring the means of life necessary for human existence, the mode of production of material values – food, clothing, footwear, houses, fuel, instruments of production, etc. – which are indispensable for the life and development of society.

Speaking on dialectics, he mentions that it,

[holds] that nature is not a state of rest and immobility [but] a state of continuous movement and change, [where] something is always arising and developing, and something always disintegrating and dying away.

What is ‘arising and developing’ in Europe is the supremacy of the European Union bureaucracy over the all affairs of its member states, and what is ‘disintegrating and dying’ is the superstructural relevance of its nation-states—subversion of the nation-state to the superstate.

Additionally, the seemingly intransigent ideologies of the Spanish central and Catalonian regional governments share a dialectical relationship to Spain’s means of production, which unfortunately are no longer Spanish, but the European Union’s—a new model of the international cartel.

Vladimir Lenin’s book “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” elucidates,

International cartels show to what point capitalist monopolies have developed, and the object of the struggle between the various capitalist associations [which] shows us the historico-economic meaning of what is taking place; for the forms of the struggle may and do constantly change in accordance with varying, relatively specific and temporary causes, but the substance of the struggle, its class content, positively cannot change while classes exist. Naturally, it is in [the bourgeoisie’s] interests to obscure the substance of the present economic struggle (the division of the world) and to emphasise now this and now another form of the struggle.

Therefore, the true dialectic within Spain is not “Spanish vs. Catalan culture”, but the proportional division of the European bourgeoisie into the region, nation-state, and superstate; all whom, via finance capitalism, install its dictatorship of the bourgeoisie acting as the state force, wrest the means of production from the proletariat, reshape their relationships to the means of production through bureaucracy, and transform the social contracts within its authority.

Puigdemont and his ilk understand this perfectly and are using their massive reserve army of the unemployed—currently 22.7% of the Catalonian population—as a battering ram against Spain, using Rajoy’s tactless crackdown to garner sympathy from the international community.

Neither Puigdemont nor any of the Spanish trade unions have bothered to disclose the true source of their troubles—finance capitalism—where the bourgeoisie was directly responsible responsible for the greatest heist in human history. Instead, they scrounge opportunistically for piecemeal solutions rather than directly challenging the source of their conflict!

So, as this contest between these class strata continues, where Rajoy cites the “immutability” of the Spanish constitution, and Puigdemont cites the “immutability” of the right to self-determination, neither are as “immutable” as the EU—the primary force in European economics—which, like Rajoy and King Fillip VI, does not want a divided Europe.

A material assessment of Catalonia’s economic future

Although Puigdemont believes that Catalonia can secede from the Spanish state, it cannot relinquish the European Economic Area (EEA), but gambled this anyway with the referendum.

However, as the EU now sides with the Spanish central authorities, Puigdemont has completely changed his rhetoric to a vacuous, conciliatory call for dialogue, because he understands that the reigning bourgeoisie have called his bluff on his monumental gamble.

Also, since the EU bureaucracy has de jure monopolised Europe’s means of production, should Catalonia leave Spain, it would also leave the EU, but ultimately eviscerate all three economies, which are wholly interdependent and intertwined.

Catalonian-born Chief Economic Adviser for the World Economic Forum Xavier Sala-i-Martin highlighted that,

The EU accounted for 65.8% of Catalan exports in 2016, 7 percentage points more than in 2015. It is followed by the rest of Europe (7.4%) and Asia (6.5%), which moves to third place in terms of exported volume, ahead of Latin America (5.9%). France accounts for 16.1% of Catalan exports. Germany (11.9%), along with Italy (9.1%), Portugal (6.7%) and the UK (6.0%) represent nearly half (49.7%) of Catalan exports in 2016.

Therefore Catalonia would spend significantly more on tariffs alone and evaporate nearly half of its trade, giving rise to a crippling trade deficit and sinking into an economic depression.

According to Catalonia Votes (2013), 15.5 million tourists visited the region, 36.5% of its population are foreigners, and its economy achieved €63.8 mln. in exports—25% to Spain, and 65% to the EU member states. This is what helped Catalonia ‘thrive’ as a region—only inasmuch as it retains unmitigated access to the EU common market and ‘free movement’ of labour.

Unfortunately, the EU has socialised the divisions of labour through state-enforced capitalism—at gunpoint, penpoint, and PowerPoint—so much that Catalonia has few economic contingencies. Additionally, Spain knows that, without Catalonia, it would lose over one-third of its GDP and a significant portion of its diversified industrial base, whilst provoking the anger of its largest trading partners whom are the EU’s biggest economies, according to OEC figures.

He continues, making note of the Spanish debt question,

Even worse for Spain would be if the national government works to actively oppose a Catalonia that declares independence and therefore refuses to reach a debt transfer agreement […] If that were the case, then its debt-to-GDP ration would balloon to something approaching 125 percent […] With the richest region gone and with almost unsustainable debt, then Spain is in big trouble.

This is how Catalonia plans to blackmail both Spain and the EU; bursting their debt bubbles.

The Catalonian independence movement is, in fact, a bourgeois phenomenon which, like economic fascism, exploits the working class by with superstructural tactics-as-plan for the personal gain of that respective society’s bourgeoisie.

With Spain’s class strata competing for the blessings of the European Commission, one could deduce that King Felipe VI and PM Rajoy will remain the undisputed winner, but, to err on the side of caution, one could assume two potential outcomes:

  1. An admission of defeat for the Catalonian regional government, leading to PM Charles Puigdemont’s resignation (or head) and restored normalcy in the EU bureaucracy OR
  2. Catalonia’s complete breakaway from Spain, causing an economic and political crisis, which will embolden other secessionists, leading to a near-collapse in the European Union and a prolonged battle of attrition between regional, nation-state, and superstate power structures.

Rather than Catalonia attacking the very system of exploitation through its economic significance and revolutionary history to rally the Spanish proletariat, it has chosen to gamble its future away in a reactionary bid for ‘independence’. However, because the EU is a system of coercive interdependence, the most likely outcome is failure, bitter enmity between Catalans and Castilians, and a gradual return to socioeconomic ‘normalcy’, leaving the working class intact.

In his economic manuscripts, Marx sums up the Catalan question perfectly,

[…] Its idealism is fantasy, caprice and whim; and no eunuch flatters his despot more basely or uses more despicable means to stimulate his dulled capacity for pleasure in order to sneak a favour for himself than does the industrial eunuch – the producer – in order to sneak for himself a few pieces of silver […] out of the pockets of his dearly beloved neighbours in Christ. 

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Republicans call Justice Department’s Bruce Ohr to testify, but where is British Spy Steele? (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 78.

Alex Christoforou

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Representative Mark Meadows tweeted Friday…

“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+ contacts with dossier author Chris Steele, as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth.”

Lawmakers believe former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr is a central figure to finding out how the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid PR smear firm Fusion GPS and British spy Christopher Steele to fuel a conspiracy of Trump campaign collusion with Russians at the top levels of the Justice Department and the FBI.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Sunday to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo…

So here you have information flowing from the Clinton campaign from the Russians, likely — I believe was handed directly from Russian propaganda arms to the Clinton campaign, fed into the top levels of the FBI and Department of Justice to open up a counter-intelligence investigation into a political campaign that has now polluted nearly every top official at the DOJ and FBI over the course of the last couple years. It is absolutely amazing,

According to Breitbart, during the 2016 election, Ohr served as associate deputy attorney general, and as an assistant to former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. His office was four doors down from Rosenstein on the fourth floor. He was also dual-hatted as the director of the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Ohr’s contacts with Steele, an ex-British spy, are said to date back more than a decade. Steele is a former FBI informant who had helped the FBI prosecute corruption by FIFA officials. But it is Ohr and Steele’s communications in 2016 that lawmakers are most interested in.

Emails handed over to Congress by the Justice Department show that Ohr, Steele, and Simpson communicated throughout 2016, as Steele and Simpson were being paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the role Bruce Ohr played in Hillary Clinton’s Deep State attack against the Presidency of Donald Trump, and why the most central of figures in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, British spy for hire Christopher Steele, is not sitting before Congress, testifying to the real election collusion between the UK, the Obama White House, the FBI and the DOJ.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Washington Times

Republicans in a joint session of House committees are set to interview former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr this month to gauge whether a complex conspiracy against Donald Trump existed among Hillary Clinton loyalists and the Justice Department.

“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+contacts with dossier author Chris Steele as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth,” tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

His panel and the House Judiciary Committee plan to hold a joint hearing to interview Mr. Ohr, according to The Daily Caller.

FBI documents show that the bureau bluntly told dossier writer Christopher Steele in November 2016 that it no longer wanted to hear about his collection of accusations against Mr. Trump.

But for months afterward, the FBI appeared to violate its own edict as agents continued to receive the former British spy’s scandalous charges centered on supposed TrumpRussia collusion.

 

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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via American Herald Tribune:


There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

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Is This The Most Important Geopolitical Deal Of 2018?

After more than 20 years of fraught diplomatic efforts, the five littoral Caspian nations agreed upon a legal framework for sharing the world’s largest inland body of water.

The Duran

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Authored by Olgu Okumus via Oilprice.com:


The two-decade-long dispute on the statute of the Caspian Sea, the world largest water reserve, came to an end last Sunday when five littoral states (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) agreed to give it a special legal status – it is now neither a sea, nor a lake. Before the final agreement became public, the BBC wrote that all littoral states will have the freedom of access beyond their territorial waters, but natural resources will be divided up. Russia, for its part, has guaranteed a military presence in the entire basin and won’t accept any NATO forces in the Caspian.

Russian energy companies can explore the Caspian’s 50 billion barrels of oil and its 8.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan can finally start considering linking its gas to the Turkish-Azeri joint project TANAP through a trans-Caspian pipeline, while Iran has gained increased energy supplies for its largest cities in the north of the country (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) – however, Iran has also put itself under the shadow of Russian ships. This controversy makes one wonder to what degree U.S. sanctions made Iran vulnerable enough to accept what it has always avoided – and how much these U.S. sanctions actually served NATO’s interests.

If the seabed, rich in oil and gas, is divided this means more wealth and energy for the region. From 1970 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, the Caspian Sea was divided into subsectors for Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – all constituent republics of the USSR. The division was implemented on the basis of the internationally-accepted median line.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new order required new regulations. The question was over whether the Caspian was a sea or a lake? If it was treated as a sea, then it would have to be covered by international maritime law, namely the United Nations Law of the Sea. But if it is defined as a lake, then it could be divided equally between all five countries. The so-called “lake or sea” dispute revolved over the sovereignty of states, but also touched on some key global issues – exploiting oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Basin, freedom of access, the right to build beyond territorial waters, access to fishing and (last but not least) managing maritime pollution.

The IEA concluded in World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2017 that offshore energy has a promising future. More than a quarter of today’s oil and gas supply is produced offshore, and integrated offshore thinking will extend this beyond traditional sources onwards to renewables and more. Caspian offshore hydrocarbon reserves are around 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent (equivalent to one third of Iraq’s total oil reserves) and 8.4 trillion cubic meters of gas (almost equivalent to the U.S.’ entire proven gas reserves). As if these quantities were not themselves enough to rebalance Eurasian energy demand equations, the agreement will also allow Turkmenistan to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline, connecting Turkmenistan’s resources to the Azeri-Turkish joint project TANAP, and onwards to Europe – this could easily become a counter-balance factor to the growing LNG business in Europe.

Even though we still don’t have firm and total details on the agreement, Iran seems to have gained much less than its neighbors, as it has shortest border on the Caspian. From an energy perspective, Iran would be a natural market for the Caspian basin’s oil and gas, as Iran’s major cities (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) are closer to the Caspian than they are to Iran’s major oil and gas fields. Purchasing energy from the Caspian would also allow Iran to export more of its own oil and gas, making the country a transit route from the Caspian basin to world markets. For instance, for Turkmenistan (who would like to sell gas to Pakistan) Iran provides a convenient geography. Iran could earn fees for swap arrangements or for providing a transit route and justify its trade with Turkey and Turkmenistan as the swap deal is allowed under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA, or the D’Amato Act).

If the surface water will be in common usage, all littoral states will have access beyond their territorial waters. In practical terms, this represents an increasingly engaged Russian presence in the Basin. It also reduces any room for a NATO presence, as it seems to be understood that only the five littoral states will have a right to military presence in the Caspian. Considering the fact that Russia has already used its warships in the Caspian to launch missile attacks on targets within Syria, this increased Russian presence could potentially turn into a security threat for Iran.

Many questions can now be asked on what Tehran might have received in the swap but one piece of evidence for what might have pushed Iran into agreement in its vulnerable position in the face of increased U.S. sanctions. Given that the result of those sanctions seems to be Iran agreeing to a Caspian deal that allows Russia to place warships on its borders, remove NATO from the Caspian basin equation, and increase non-Western based energy supplies (themselves either directly or indirectly within Russia’s sphere of geopolitical influence) it makes one wonder whose interests those sanctions actually served?

By Olgu Okumus for Oilprice.com

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