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The Threat To Russia and China From India’s New Pro-US Realignment

Indian Prime Minister Modi’s realignment of India with the US threatens to shatter BRICS unity reversing the course away from the US-led unipolar world.

Andrew Korybko

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In an earlier article I discussed India’s recent moves and how these threaten to realign India with the US against China and Russia.

In this article I will discuss the background to this and the strategic implications and how these developments threaten the development of the multipolar order that is challenging US global power.

The Chinese-Indian Cold War

South East Asia

Prime Minister Modi’s moves over the last month exacerbate an already existing low-intensity Chinese-Indian Cold War.  The main focus of Chinese-Indian competition at the present time is in south east Asia.

India plans to ramp up its commercial ties with the mainland members of ASEAN – often referred to as “the Mekong River states” – by cooperating with them to build the Trilateral Highway through Myanmar and Thailand. 

Part of this project links up to the Japanese East-West corridor at the Myanmar port city of Mawlamyine, connecting India to northern Thailand, southern Laos, and central Vietnam.

This map shows the crisscrossing infrastructure corridors that are planned for the Greater Mekong Subregion.  India’s Trilateral Highway – labelled the Western Corridor – is coloured purple.  Japan’s East-Corridor is coloured turquoise.

It is not a coincidence that these trade networks are expected to interlink with each other. India and Japan are the US’s two most important Asian allies in “containing” China.  From a US perspective, it makes sense for India and China to pool their resources in the ASEAN theatre. 

On the naval front, as I discussed in my previous article, India is slated to become one of the out-of-region forces active in the South China Sea alongside Japan, the US, and Australia in the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue”.

Himalayan Push

The other main theatre of Chinese-Indian competition is the Himalayas, particularly Kashmir, Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh.

Kashmir:

Since 1948 Kashmir has been divided into Pakistani and Indian-administered zones.  As I discussed in my previous article, India is objecting to China’s plans to build the Chinese Pakistani Economic Corridor through the Pakistani-administered zone.

In a conversation with Pakistani analyst and GPolit contributor Tayyab Baloch I was told of Pakistani fears that India might exploit the Logistic Support Agreement to obtain the deployment of US troops to Indian-controlled Kashmir.  This would be seen as very threatening by Pakistan and might even facilitate the infiltration of Uighur and Tibetan terrorists into nearby China.

Though deploying US troops to this bitterly contested region would be extremely destabilising and controversial, India might be tempted to “justify” it by citing China’s refusal to stop construction of the Chinese Pakistani Economic Corridor through Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and by China’s continued occupation of the Indian-claimed territory of Aksai Chin.

Nepal:

India and China have been engaged in a fierce asymmetrical competition for influence in Nepal ever since India lent its support to Hindu-identifying Madhesi protesters in the southern Terai region during their months-long protest campaign.

The Madhesi were ostensibly protesting Nepal’s plans for federalisation which they claim will dilute their influence in Nepal’s affairs.  In Nepal’s capital Kathmandu the opinion is however that India is manipulating the Madhesi protests as proxies to ensure India’s continued influence over Nepal.

During the protests Indian traders claimed it was unsafe for them to travel to Nepal, causing a de-facto blockade of the country which cut it off from most of its fuel supplies.  The Nepalese government claimed this was in effect an embargo imposed on Nepal by India.

China for its part has pragmatically supported the democratically elected and legitimate Nepalese government, sending supplies to replace the products withheld by India. 

China has also sealed important energy deals with Nepal and is now even discussing an expansion of the New Silk Road through the Himalayans to Kathmandu. Not surprisingly India fears this could lead to the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar becoming flooded with Chinese goods.  It is not difficult to see why India might therefore be tempted to use the Madhesi protests to thwart these projects.

Arunachal Pradesh:

A further region of potential Chinese-Indian rivalry in the Himalayas is the contested territory of Arunachal Pradesh, called “Southern Tibet” by China.

The dispute here dates back to the imperial era when the British marked out the border between British controlled India and a weakened China. 

The essential point is that India for decades has administered this region without its right to do so being recognised by China.

This dispute is for the time being lying dormant and has largely done so since the 1962 Sino-Indian War.  It does however occasionally flare up as a rhetorical whenever Indian-Chinese disagreements rise to the surface. Since China does not recognise India’s administration of Arunachal Pradesh, this territory retains the potential to become a serious flashpoint.

The Logistical Support Agreement give the US the right – if India agrees – to “resupply, repair, and rest” its forces anywhere in India.  This could in theory include contested areas such as Arunachal Pradesh. 

Deploying US troops so close to the border with China in a contested territory such as Arunachal Pradesh would be seen by China as intensely provocative and would be bound to provoke a Chinese reaction. 

That could transform a hereto dormant conflict into an active one, creating a third subregional front of “containment” against China.  All it would take would be the symbolic presence of a few US troops – no matter how ‘plausibly justified’ under the terms of  the Logistical Support Agreement – to trigger a confrontation between India and China that could be exploited by hardliners in New Delhi wanting to press for a concerted US-Indian joint effort to “defend Indian territory from China”.

“Containing” China In Central Asia

There remains Central Asia as a further zone of potential Chinese-Indian conflict. 

India just recently began to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement, a multinational infrastructure development platform between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Oman.

India plans to build a railroad from the Indian-financed port in Iran’s southern Chabahar district to the existing Iran-Central Asian railway network, potentially making India an important regional actor.

This North-South Corridor is expected to run in parallel to the actual one of that name which traverses Iran, the Caspian Sea region, Azerbaijan and Russia.   

If completed these projects would connect India by land to the European Union, re routing India’s trade with the European Union through the Russian-Chinese zone of influence in Central Asia.

India’s increasing role in this region could benefit all parties.  This however depends on how it is pursued.  If India’s intentions are hostile to China and are directed at “containing” China in this region (as they increasingly seem to be everywhere else) then India’s growing presence in Central Asia could have destabilising consequences which would also inevitably affect Russia.

It is too early to say what form India’s role Central Asian will take.  However whatever it is it is likely to be significant. Whether it will be positive or negative depends on India.  If India continues to commit itself to multipolarity in combination with its BRICS partners Russia and China then its role in Central Asia will be positive.  If instead it undermines BRICS unity (as it seems rapidly on track to do) then its actions could turn out to be severely destabilising, turning a hereto stable region into a theatre of a new global Cold War.

Hybrid War Blackmail

Prime Minister Modi seems for the moment to be going along with – even inviting – the US’s anti-Chinese strategic assistance in South Asia and other neighbouring regions.  However he may be under pressure to do so.

As I wrote for Sputnik in October when discussing Bangladesh’s simmering Islamic/Salafist terrorist problem, the US and possibly even Saudi Arabia may be planning to turn Bangladesh into another focus of violent Salafist jihadism as the ultimate form of pressure on India. Moreover, the September 2014 announcement that Al Qaeda had opened up a South Asian branch may also have led the Indian establishment to think there is a long-term jihadist threat to India.

The extent to which these fears may have led India away from multipolarity towards realignment with the US is however debatable. In my opinion Prime Minister Modi was already predisposed to side with the US against China even if there were no external pressure upon  him.

Nonetheless the “ticking time bombs” of jihadi militancy remain a threat should Prime Minister Modi ever to decide to reverse course, though in that case India would be able to look for support to its BRICS partners – Russia and China – in a way that might actually deepen India’s ties with them.

Breaking Up The BRICS

Prime Minister Modi increasing alignment with the US puts the BRICS organisation at serious risk of falling apart.

India does sincerely wish for the success of certain multipolar projects.  These include wider use of national non-dollar currencies in bilateral trade and the establishment of alternative global institutions such as the BRICS New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in which India would finally have representation proportionate to its size.

However these forms of economic and institutional multipolarity are very different from the geopolitical multipolarity Russia and China practice. Whilst India would obviously benefit from that too, the short-sighted obsession of its “deep state” elites (ie. its permanent intelligence-military-diplomatic bureaucracies) in “containing” China, confronting Pakistan, and conquering the rest of Kashmir blind them to its advantages.  This leads to the strange paradox of India geopolitically embracing the same hegemon – the US – it opposes in the economic and institutional spheres.

Russia and China for their part had until recently assumed India shared their vision of economic, institutional, and – most importantly – geopolitical multipolarity.  Now it seems  the geopolitical aspect of this global vision is something India’s elite no longer wants to move forward with.

Ultimately an intensification of Chinese-Indian competition in a sort of bilateral Cold War can only serve the interests of the US.  It not only risks undermining BRICS unity from within.  Over time increasingly tense bilateral relations between India and China would inevitably spill over into other multipolar organisations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, undermining their unity and impairing their effectiveness.

It is easy to see how in such a situation things might get so bad that India – contrary to its own long-term interests – might decide to accept whatever deal it was offered by the US and turn its back on the BRICS entirely. 

It is not inconceivable that in that case India could become a bridge between a US-sponsored TTIP in western Eurasia and a US sponsored TPP in eastern Eurasia, with India forming the link in some sort of southern “rimland alliance” against Russia and China.

Russia’s Choice

In the event of India’s destruction of BRICS unity, Russia would be forced to choose between its Chinese and Indian partners. For obvious reasons Moscow would prefer this never happened.  However India’s actions might leave it no alternative.

If the point ever comes when Moscow is forced to side publicly with China against India, however politely and diplomatically this was done, the US and its proxies in India would undoubtedly use the fact to launch an information campaign claiming Moscow had “betrayed India” and had “sold India out to China”. 

Russian diplomacy is no doubt striving to avoid this situation.  Due to Russia’s longstanding friendly ties to India Russia is the only country that might have a chance of persuading India that its present course of undermining BRICS unity does not serve India’s interests. Even if Russia could not persuade India to reverse its new policies entirely, Russia might still play a useful role, moderating the policy and acting as a sort of bridge between New Delhi and Beijing.   

Realistically however there is little Moscow can do if India’s elites are determined to adopt the anti-Chinese narrative the US has spun for them. 

If India irrevocably commits itself to a pro-US anti-China course then sooner or later India will inevitably come under pressure from Washington to loosen its ties with Moscow.   This would most probably happen in the context of an artificially created crisis, making it appear that the decision was Moscow’s rather than New Delhi’s or Washington’s.

Concluding Thoughts

Prime Minister Modi’s actions over the past month in the immediate wake of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit have caused widespread alarm amongst its BRICS allies, provoking questions as why India is now so suddenly and so visibly siding with the US.

In reality the Indian elite’s obsessions with “containing” China, confronting Pakistan, and conquering all of Kashmir has always made India highly susceptible to US manipulation and provides the answer.

The stakes however could not be higher.  With India’s news media and information space dominated by pro-Western narratives most Indians remain unaware of the change in strategic direction their country is taking.  The result however might be to shatter the BRICS, putting other multipolar projects such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in jeopardy. 

Beyond that it is difficult to see how an intensification of the Chinese-Indian Cold War could not lead in the end to a permanent realignment of India with the US, placing the whole multipolar project upon which Russian and Chinese policy is based in question.

It is not yet too late to turn back.  Time is however running short.  The further India moves along its present path the more difficult it will be to turn back.  Beyond a certain point the momentum becomes unstoppable and the process irreversible.

India is at a crossroads.  Either it deepens its cooperation with its BRICS partners, consolidating the multipolar world that is emerging, or it sabotages it and aligns with Washington.

India is today the pivot state, the country that has the decisive voice in whether or not there will be a New Cold War, and has for that reason become the object of every Great Powers’ fancy.

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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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