The New Great Game Round-Up: July 20, 2014

Halliburton's Fracking Deal in Xinjiang, Turkish Airlines Transporting Tajik Jihadists to Syria and Iraq & More!

*The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Caucasus region between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

Europe's dependence on Russian gas has been a thorn in Washington's side for quite some time. In recent weeks, the United States and its lackeys in Brussels tried hard to sabotage Gazprom's South Stream pipeline, to no avail. Austria, Italy, Serbia and a few other European countries are not willing to give up on the project. Washington and Brussels will certainly exploit the MH17 tragedy to put more pressure on these "traitors". The U.S. collaborators in Europe have demonstrated repeatedly that they will do everything in their power to reduce Russia's influence in the European energy sector, if necessary at the expense of EU energy security. Gas from the Caspian Sea region is seen as the solution and UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon vowed during his recent visit to Azerbaijan that the West will counteract Russia's attempts to "interfere" with the Southern Gas Corridor. It is not exactly clear which interference Fallon is alluding to but his other statements suggest that he is full of it:

Implementation of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to increase stability in region

The implementation of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline will increase stability in the region, UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon told journalists in Baku.

Commenting on the opinion that Russia's position on the said project is fairly rigid, Fallon noted that the Russia was sanctioned for actions against Ukraine. 

"We will continue to use them in order to make it clear: any escalation of tensions in the southeast of the country will lead to new sanctions. We work on these issues with partners in Europe. The existing tension makes more relevant the issue of reducing Europe's dependence on Russian gas," Fallon said.

Tony Blair to Reduce Europe's Dependence on Russian Gas

Fallon seems to confuse stability with war. Threatening Russia with more sanctions in order to implement the Trans-Caspian project is a great idea but only if you are trying to provoke a war with Russia. Gazprom has already made clear that this is a real possibility if the project goes forward. Without the Trans-Caspian pipeline the Southern Gas Corridor is only a minor threat to Gazprom. Given that the U.S. and the EU have high hopes for this initiative of the European Commission, there will be increasing efforts to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline along with other Southern Corridor projects. Western companies recently set up an advisory panel to guide the development of the Southern Gas Corridor and the hired personal indicates that they are dead serious about it:

Tony Blair to advise on Azerbaijan gas project

Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, has been hired to advise a BP-led consortium on the export of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, in a sign of the efforts now being made by western companies to reduce reliance on Russian supplies.

Mr Blair will join former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and the chairman of Goldman Sachs International, Peter Sutherland – a former chairman of BP – on an advisory panel being set up by
BP and its partners, a person close to the Azeri project said.

BP said the Southern Corridor Advisory Panel will “advise on political, environmental, reputational and societal challenges that may be faced by the Shah Deniz 2, TANAP and TAP projects during their early years”.

War criminal Tony Blair surfaced a few days ago, when he initiated the so-called "ceasefire", which was proposed by Israel and Egypt during the ongoing massacre in Gaza. Hamas rejected the ceasefire because the terms amounted virtually to a surrender by Hamas. One European diplomat described it rightly as a trap. The purpose of Blair's ceasefire was not to stop the killing of Palestinians but to get rid of Hamas in order to pave the way for the "development" of the Gaza gas fields. Blair has been championing this cause for several years. The former UK Prime Minister will now also play a growing role in the development of the gas fields in the Caspian region. Considering that Blair already advised the Kazakh government on a "reform program" from 2011 until last year, he should not have problems in dealing with the region's authoritarian regimes, unlike some fellow warmongers:

Baku comments on Carl Bildt’s statements regarding Azerbaijan

Deputy Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Head of the Foreign Relations Department, Novruz Mammadov commented on the opinions expressed by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt regarding Azerbaijan at the Atlantic Council meeting in Washington,
APA reports.

“Unfortunately, there are many such politicians in the international community. They think that everybody should accept and obey what they say. However they don’t understand yet that their irresponsible and narrow-minded thoughts have led the world to such a situation. Today, the ongoing negative processes, conflicts, political instability and tensions in different countries are the result of their thoughts and activities. They are unable to understand the essence of processes in the world. They just memorize some expressions and words, like parrots, and think that they fulfill their duties by using them as a means of pressure”, he said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said at the Atlantic Council’s meeting in Washington that he has serious doubts about the sincerity of Azerbaijan’s participation in the Eastern Partnership program as an authoritarian regime is dominating in the country.

Carl Bildt's criticism comes amid increasing tensions between Baku and Washington. Although Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation continues unabated, the rift is visible. This week, CIA's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) released a fairly comprehensive report about the shady business dealings of the Aliyev family emphasizing that the Azerbaijani authorities "are capable of monitoring phone calls and website visits on a massive scale." Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani media turned the spotlight on the suspicious activities of USAID in the country and announced that cooperation with the Peace Corps has been terminated:

Azerbaijan is using “operational pause" against Peace Corps

On June 20th, Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a diplomatic note to the Peace Corps, kindly informing them of the government’s intention to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding (MEU) between a US-run volunteer program and the Ministry of Economic Development, TURAN’s Washington DC correspondent was informed by sources that closely follow the issue.

The move comes just months after the Azeri government
terminated Peace Corps' two other major programs focusing on youth development and English education sector in the country. Peace Corps’ programs in Azerbaijan have seen more than 500 volunteers rotate through since 2003. Since later last year, however, the Azeri government started refusing to accept a large number of volunteers without any official explanation.Some Baku authorities reportedly said it was a “logical step as the country is not poor and does not require such help.”

Halliburton's Fracking Deal in Xinjiang

As previously discussed, the Aliyev regime might be tempted to establish closer ties with Beijing in the light of the latest quarrel with Washington. China prefers not to meddle in other countries' affairs, in contrast to the United States. At the beginning of this month, Baku offered the Chinese government to expand cooperation "in all fields" and a few days ago, there was some talk about closer cooperation in the security sphere. Azerbaijan would blend in well with China's other questionable partners in the War on Terror. This week, China and the U.S. held high-level talks on anti-terror cooperation. Knowing that China's terror problem can be traced back to Washington, the Chinese officials urged the Americans to "abandon double standards in addressing terrorism" and "support China's efforts to strike the East Turkestan terrorists." This will hardly prompt Washington to drop the East Turkestan project but, given Halliburton's latest deal in Xinjiang, at least China's extraction of oil and shale gas will not be impeded by the 'East Turkestan forces':  

Halliburton's new China JV targets Xinjiang tight oil, gas 

A newly formed oil service joint venture between a private Chinese firm and U.S. oil service giant Halliburton Co plans to focus on tapping tight oil and gas reserves in China's remote western region of Xinjiang.

China is stepping up development of more difficult-to-extract resources including tight oil and shale gas, leading more local firms to seek alliances with global oilfield service companies with high-end drilling technology and experience.

The latest venture between Halliburton and China's SPT Energy, known as Xinjiang HTDT, joins similar tie-ups between U.S.-listed Weatherford and China's Sinopec Group and U.S. fracking giant FTS International with Sinopec.

The Chinese authorities are probably hoping that the Halliburton deal will contribute to the stability of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. After all, this is their primary concern. Lately, a $3.2 billion fund was set up to boost the textile industry in Xinjiang in an effort to enhance stability by tackling the unemployment problem. However, unemployment is not the only thing fuelling ethnic tension. China's actions in the War on Terror often have counterproductive effects. The new posters, showing the stereotypical image of Uyghur insurgents with the purpose of warning citizens against helping bearded terrorists, are the latest example. CIA's Radio Free Asia (RFA) is always doing its best to highlight the ethnic tensions in Xinjiang and according to the anti-Chinese propaganda outlet, last week another deadly incident took place:

Six Han Chinese Farmers Stabbed to Death in Xinjiang

Six ethnic majority Han Chinese farmers have been stabbed to death in the latest outbreak of violence in China's western Xinjiang region, police and local officials said.

Police shot dead an ethnic minority Uyghur man and captured three other Uyghur suspects following the incident last Wednesday in Uchturpan (in Chinese, Wushi) county in Aksu prefecture in mid-western Xinjiang, the officials said.

A copy of a warrant of arrest was published online naming six suspects in the stabbing incident, which occurred in Uchturpan's No. 7 village in Imamlirim township on July 9. Their names all sounded Uyghur. 

These were probably just "freedom-loving Uyghurs demanding dignity in China", as Alim Seytoff, President of the NED-funded Uyghur American Association (UAA), put it in his recent propaganda piece in The Huffington Post. Seytoff's arguments fail to convince the authorities in Xinjiang, where the fight against Seytoff's "freedom-loving Uyghurs" has reached worrying levels. Even matches are now being banned and destroyed to ensure that they are not used by "terrorist groups or individual extremists to carry out criminal activities." Furthermore, the military is supposed to play a bigger role in everyday life. The vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang urged the troops stationed in Xinjiang "to help local people in practical things" in order to stabilize the region. At the end of the day, it is all about the stability of the region. Therefore, China is also keeping a close eye on the situation in neighboring Afghanistan and the latest move suggests that Beijing is prepared to step up its activities in the war-torn country: 

China appoints special envoy for Afghanistan

China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it had appointed a special envoy for
Afghanistan, underscoring Beijing's concerns that the withdrawal of NATO troops will leave a hotbed of militancy on its doorstep.

Sun Yuxi, a former ambassador to both
Afghanistan and India, has been named to the new position and will have "close communication" with Afghanistan and other relevant parties, the ministry said in a statement.

One of China's chief worries is that Uighur militants who want a separate state in western China's Xinjiang region will step up their fight by exploiting the security vacuum left after the bulk of NATO forces withdraw by the end of the year.

Turkish Airlines Transports Tajik Jihadists to Syria & Iraq

China is already very involved in safeguarding the stability of the Central Asian republics. Chinese investments in Kyrgyzstan's infrastructure were recently discussed (here and here) and Tajikistan will get some assistance as well. Chinese companies are reportedly looking to construct a large cement plant in Gorno-Badakhshan and to invest about $200 million in Tajikistan's cotton industry, which would create thousands of jobs according to the Tajik authorities. Jobs are badly needed considering that the dire socioeconomic conditions are driving many young Tajiks to pursue a career as jihadi mercenary: 

Turkish Airline Transporting Tajik Militants to Syria, Iraq

"The airliner transported 91 Takfiri Tajiks from Dushanbe to Istanbul at 21:10 on July 2 onboard flight 254," a source, who asked to remain unnamed for fear of his life, told FNA, and added, "The militants were later transferred to Iraq to join their ISIL co-fighters."

According to the source, the Saudi embassy in Dushanbe acts as the headquarter for recruiting, organizing and leading the terrorists in Tajikistan to send them to Syria and Iraq.

"Abu Tariq, the first secretary of the Saudi embassy, is in charge of payments and costs of the militants' transportation fees," he added.

The source also mentioned that "Turkish Air has transferred about 1,000 Takfiri Tajik fighters to Iraq so far".

The Iranians have previously pointed out that Turkish Airlines transported Albanian terrorists from Tirana to Istanbul after they had been recruited by one of the infamous Turkish "aid organizations" for jihad in Syria. More recently, Turkish Airlines made the headlines, when tapes, leaked by the Gülen movement, incriminated the airline in arms shipments to Nigeria. The involvement of the Saudi embassy in the Tajik terrorist recruitment scheme should come as no real surprise either. Besides the U.S. and Turkey, Saudi Arabia is the driving force behind the current offensive of the Islamic State (IS) and the Saudis have been meddling in Tajikistan for quite some time. The Tajik regime turns a blind eye to these activities as long as the insurgents fight abroad. However, Tajik terrorists who return home from Syria are usually taken off the streets since the Tajik authorities are not planning to turn the country into an international jihadi paradise:

Citizen of Iraq detained in Tajikistan while trying to cross Tajik-Afghan border

A citizen of Iraq, 47, was detained by officers of the Tajikistan's Interior Ministry while trying to illegally cross the Tajik-Afghan border, the press service of the Ministry reported.

The man was detained in the framework of search operations conducted on July 13 in Farkhor district near the border with Afghanistan.

Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda boasted this week about the number of detained terrorists in the last few months. According to Rahimzoda, 49 members of terrorist or extremist groups were arrested in the first half of this year, including five members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and 12 members of the IMU splinter group Jamaat Ansarullah. This is of course only the tip of the iceberg, as the search for several families from Tajikistan's Sughd Province demonstrates:

87 Sughd Oblast residents sought in extremism inquiry

Eighty-seven Sughd Oblast residents, including 24 women and 34 children, are wanted on suspicion of going abroad to join various extremist and terrorist groups, media reported July 17, quoting oblast police chief Sharif Nazarov at a July 16 news conference.

The extremist movements include Jamaat Ansarullah, Jundullah and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Avesta.tj reported. Destinations of the 87 fugitives include Syria, Nazarov said.

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Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & Analyst
Christoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here

Syria: Another Western War Crime in the Making

The West Knows Only One Rule- “Might is Right!”

Washington and its British and French puppet governments are poised to yet again reveal their criminality. The image of the West as War Criminal is not a propaganda image created by the West’s enemies, but the portrait that the West has painted of itself.

The UK Independent reports that over this past week-end Obama, Cameron, and Hollande agreed to launch cruise missile attacks against the Syrian government within two weeks despite the lack of any authorization from the UN and despite the absence of any evidence in behalf of Washington’s claim that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the Washington-backed “rebels”, largely US supported external forces, seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. [Read more...]

The DOJ-FBI Have it Both Ways: “Ain’t Nothing Here, but the “Nothing” is Highly Classified & Sensitive”

“Our simplicity-loving government-trusting & mainstream media-following majority has half of it right:-It is a conspiracy!”

Once upon a time there lived a Saudi Clan in a city called Sarasota in the United States. The clan was visited by Mohamed Atta - the government-designated top hijacking terrorist who according to the government led the largest terrorist event in United States’ history - known as 9/11. The clan’s Sarasota house was visited by this lead hijacking terrorist not once, not twice, but many times. The clan also had visits from two other US government-designated 9/11 hijacking terrorists - Marwan Al-Shehhi, who supposedly crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower, and Ziad Jarrah, who was supposedly at the controls of United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

Are you with me so far? Let’s simplify and sum this up so far for the sake of our simplicity-loving majority: Three 9/11 hijacking terrorists visited a Saudi Family in Sarasota repeatedly before 9/11. [Read more...]

The EyeOpener- Terror in the Caucasus: US Sponsored, EU Hosted & Turkey Channeled

The West’s Active Funding, Training & Protection of the Caucasus’ Terrorists

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Turkish claims earlier this year that three Chechen militants who were gunned down in Istanbul were in fact killed by Russian agents hardly made a ripple in the mainstream western media. Seen as a minor footnote to the ongoing Russian edition of the so-called Global War on Terrorism, it seemed like an interesting but isolated incident. Far from being unusual, however, what this incident points to is only the latest data point on a graph that demonstrates protection of Chechen terrorists from the capital of Turkey right into the heart of Europe.

What this case and many others points to is the fundamental hypocrisy underlying the US-led, NATO-enforced, Western-backed "war on terror" paradigm; just as the self-same Afghan mujahedeen could be called "freedom fighters" by one American president and "evildoers" by another, so, too, authorities can use the "freedom fighter" excuse to justify looking the other way when Islamic extremists from the Northern Caucasus set up bases in Europe. Upon closer examination, however, the West has not been involved in merely tacit support of the terrorists in the Caucasus, but in active funding, training and protection of these terrorists.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett presenting the West’s continuous support and funding of terrorists in the Caucasus, Moscow's evident conviction that the Chechen terror organizations are being protected and supported by the West, and exploring the likely reasons behind the puzzling relative silence from the Kremlin on these still-hidden realities and facts behind the terror in the Caucasus.

Watch the Preview Here:

Watch the Full Video Report Here:

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The EyeOpener- CIA & the Nuclear Black Market: A Case Study

The Business of Arming the Nation’s Enemies

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The AQ Khan nuclear network was first introduced to the public in early 2004, with Abdul Qadeer Khan's dramatic televised confession to the Pakistani public that he had participated in selling nuclear technology, including bomb-making designs and equipment, to countries including Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Right from the beginning, the sensational nature of the network and its eventual discovery, a tale of international intrigue and shadowy spy craft, seemed tailor-made for headline-grabbing reports, or sensationalistic BBC docudramas.

As is typical with these events, a popular understanding has emerged around the early reporting on the subject, one that suggests that Dr. Khan was working essentially off the radar and out of sight of the intelligence agencies whose very existence is predicated on identifying such threats long before they develop.

Inevitably, however, as happens every time that an intelligence operation leads to some catastrophic result, the "incompetence theory" is trotted out as a way to explain what happened. In the Khan case, it is argued that the CIA, despite infesting every layer of this plot, somehow remained completely oblivious to Khan's efforts to proliferate these weapons to North Korea, Iran, and Libya until it was already too late.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett, presenting the documented but under-reported facts and intrigues on AQ Khan’s nuclear network, the CIA’s knowledge and surveillance of the network from its very inception, and the collaborative efforts by the CIA and certain US politicians to fund, protect and further the network’s nuclear black-market activities and expansion.

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Government Contractor Galore A La UK: Serco

The Private-Government-Private Mega Corporations Phenomena

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American Conservative Magazine Beats UK Papers in News Delivery

UK-US Media Reports… Only When it’s Safe to Publish?

mediaYesterday this made the headlines in UK:

Britain Held Secret War Talks With US Generals 11 Months Before Iraq Invasion

America's most senior general flew into Britain for top secret talks on the invasion of Iraq 11 months before the attack on Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Details of the classified meeting, held at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, suggest Tony Blair’s Government was involved in detailed discussions about toppling the Iraqi dictator earlier than previously disclosed.American General Tommy Franks flew in to the base in April 2002 to attend a summit meeting called by the then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

No kidding? And not bothering to cite previous reports on this, hmmmmm, more than a year ago?
 

This is what I’m referring to:

Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?
The American Conservative, November 2009

AmConsThe monitoring of the Turks picked up contacts with Feith, Wolfowitz, and Perle in the summer of 2001, four months before 9/11. They were discussing with the Turkish ambassador in Washington an arrangement whereby the U.S. would invade Iraq and divide the country. The UK would take the south, the rest would go to the U.S. They were negotiating what Turkey required in exchange for allowing an attack from Turkish soil. The Turks were very supportive, but wanted a three-part division of Iraq to include their own occupation of the Kurdish region. The three Defense Department officials said that would be more than they could agree to, but they continued daily communications to the ambassador and his defense attaché in an attempt to convince them to help.

Meanwhile Scowcroft, who was also the chairman of the American Turkish Council, Baker, Richard Armitage, and Grossman began negotiating separately for a possible Turkish protectorate. Nothing was decided, and then 9/11 took place.

Scowcroft was all for invading Iraq in 2001 and even wrote a paper for the Pentagon explaining why the Turkish northern front would be essential. I know Scowcroft came off as a hero to some for saying he was against the war, but he was very much for it until his client’s conditions were not met by the Bush administration.

So, what’s the deal? Report only when all is considered safe and sound; sanctioned and blessed by the high & mighty above? Or is it pure ignorance and lack of research in this age and time, and despite their research and search engines? Or maybe it is their superiority complex act surfacing as an inferiority complex when a smaller publication beats them to a story?
 

You tell me. What’s the deal?

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A Potpourri of Noteworthy Links

Phony Commissioners & Phony Reports, Central Asia, Laos, Bryza Candidacy, Gulen…You Name it!

This post is similar to what I usually publish under my ‘Weekly Round Up’ series, only with a caveat: the time period covers more than a week, make that more than a month. I’ve been saving links and articles of interest, either those I’ve been coming across or ones sent by my loyal friends with good noses, and meaning to publish them as ‘weekly round ups.’ Then of course, due to ‘this or that,’ those ‘round up’ points ended up piling up week after week. Where did they get piled up? As ‘saved’ e-mails in my e-mail box and marked as ‘unread.’ Why that way? Because that’s one of my ‘supposed’ motivating strategies to prevent ‘delays & procrastination;’ seeing these piled up e-mails in my box every day, usually several times a day, bugs me big time…

Well, obviously, and for truly justifiable reason(s), that so-called strategy/method didn’t work, and I ended up with over one hundred e-mails of this particular category sitting in my mail box, glaring at me. Last night I decided I couldn’t take it any longer. After putting my daughter in bed for the evening, I sat behind my PC, scrolled down to the bottom of my e-mail box where the oldest e-mails sit, clicked and read. I eliminated (deleted) many due to the time-sensitive nature of those articles/analysis/editorials, and saved (technically ‘re-saved’) those timeless and or worthy-of-listing ones. And, at 10:30 p.m., began typing away!

I hope ‘some’ of you will find ‘some’ of this information worthy or useful; I did. Maybe we’ll get a chance to discuss these in the comments section… Oh, also, I am going to preempt a few finicky readers: I am mostly listing the links & the headlines/titles rather than adding my usual fairly long commentaries to each and every one of the links, because I don’t have the time; hope you understand. And finally, I am looking forward to tomorrow morning, when I’ll check my mail box and won’t see those glaring ‘months’ old e-mails;-) So here we go!

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Laos

Last year I did a piece on Vietnam & Agent Orange. The following is another awful footprint left by one of our many wars, reminding us once again of our established record as the number one nation in using WMD (and going for ‘preemptive wars’!)…Truly sad; truly sad.

New case for US reparations in Laos
Melody Kemp, Asia Times

Laos carries the tragic distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the history of modern warfare. Thirty-five years after the United States wound up its so-called "secret war" against communist guerillas, the impact of its unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to take a heavy human and economic toll.

A new report published jointly by UXO Lao and the Lao National Regulatory Authority (NRA) has shed more light on the damage caused by the US's UXOs. The research surveyed 94% of Lao households and concluded that an estimated 20,000 people had died from UXOs since the conflict ended after the communist takeover in 1975.

COPE's research shows that the US government, corporations and private foundations have given over $39.5 million for UXO clean-up since 1993 - a trifling sum compared with the billions it has allocated for its new generation of wars. A US Senate committee recently recommended committing $7 million for UXO clearance in Laos in 2011 and $3.5 for similar activities in Vietnam. The US Congress allocated about $5 million and the US State Department $1.9 million for UXO clearance in Laos this year.

The US war in Laos was shrouded in intrigue and disinformation. An Australian-made film entitled Bomb Harvest contains footage of a US government spokesperson saying that internationally accepted rules of engagement were suspended during the campaign in Laos. Legally, that means there are still unresolved questions over who should bear primary responsibility, the US government
or the private companies who produced the weapons, for UXO victims and other legacies of the war in Laos.

As warfare is increasingly outsourced to private companies, questions are emerging about the legal liability of private companies that supply and profit from war. From a common law perspective, US negligence and injury in Laos are easy to prove, say international lawyers. However, the tenets of war reparations have been generally designed so that the vanquished are economically punished for both their aggression and loss

...

Laos, which had an estimated one ton of ordnance per capita rained on it by US bombers, has more recently emerged as a global icon for the movement against cluster bombs. It is estimated by the US State Department's Walk the Earth With Safety bureau that about 30% of those bombs did not explode on contact with the ground. Canisters dropped from US B-52s could have carried up to 600 cluster bomb units and distributed them over a wide terrain on impact.

A new research report entitled National Survey of UXO Victims and Accidents reveals that, apart from cluster munitions, land mines, artillery shells and other US ordnance also continue to cause significant casualties decades after the end of the war. Indeed, many areas of the country where injuries have recently occurred were not adjacent to known combat zones.

During the conflict, the largest numbers of bombing-related fatalities came among soldiers. Nowadays, it's farmers, fisherfolk, foresters and women and children foraging for food in UXO-contaminated areas. That is, those being killed now by what is known to be US ordnance are civilians merely trying to make a living. Many of those killed and injured, such as the five children killed in southern Champassak province in February this year, were not even alive during the war.

Military adventurism for less ideological reasons, including access to and control over natural resources, has changed the face of modern warfare. However, some wonder whether reformed reparation laws that forced state aggressors and the private companies that supply them with weaponry to pay for all injuries and assistance to non-combatants would reduce the risk of future armed conflicts.

Vietnam tried for years to win US compensation for its victims of US chemical warfare, including the US's use of the defoliant Agent Orange, but ultimately failed to secure a US court decision in its favor. Laos has not collected comprehensive data on the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants on its southern territories, but the recent $300 million deal Vietnamese stakeholders reached with the US panel could change that.

Meanwhile, signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions are scheduled to meet in Vientiane in early November. The US is notably not a signatory to the munitions-curbing treaty, but 107 other nations are, 40 of which have formally ratified the agreement. The convention took effect on August 1, 2010, and the meeting in Laos will be the first since its enactment.

I encourage you to read the rest here. And below are two clips I filmed while in Vietnam: First, Victims of Agent Orange, and the second, an interview I conducted (with Le Ly Heyslip) while in Vietnam on Agent Orange:

 

 

 

The Latest ‘Pitch & Tone’ on Central Asia

The following links are on one of the most important topics unknown to and or ignored by the majority here in the States: Central Asia & the Caucasus. I picked the following three since they reflect the latest ‘trend’ and the ‘advertised tone’ by the Obama-Hillary Clinton Administration. The first analysis/report was published by the Council on Foreign Relations, so it’s independence and purity should be pretty self explanatory. The following two pieces by the same author, published by Asia Times, are a bit hard to judge; as far as intentions & interests are concerned… Okay, take a look at them and you’ll see what I mean.

Reimagining Eurasia
Samuel Charap and Alexandros Petersen,  Foreign Affairs

As Kyrgyzstan descended into chaos after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in April 2010, most observers were focused on the fate of the key U.S. airbase there. They feared that Moscow had orchestrated the unrest as revenge for Bakiyev reneging on his alleged promise to shut down the base and would now demand that the new government follow through on that pledge. But instead of indulging in geopolitical gamesmanship as usual, Russia and the United States actually worked together, pursuing back-channel talks that facilitated Bakiyev's safe escape into exile. Periodic consultations since April have thus far managed to prevent conflict between the Cold War adversaries in the one country where both have military outposts. This marked a tectonic shift in the geopolitics of Eurasia. For the first time in over a decade, what Russia calls its "near abroad" was a locus of cooperation, not confrontation, between Russia and the United States.

This shift has opened a window of opportunity to fundamentally rethink U.S. foreign policy in Eurasia -- a term used here to refer to the countries of the greater Black Sea region and Central Asia -- a strategically situated area with massive natural resource wealth and great economic potential. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has formulated its approach to countries as diverse as Azerbaijan and Ukraine through a Russia-centric lens; U.S. policy toward the region as a whole became a function of its plans for dealing with Moscow. Although Washington focused on ensuring Eurasian states' independence in the 1990s, the past decade saw U.S. policy toward these countries devolve, becoming mired in outright U.S-Russia strategic competition. Although that competitive dynamic has diminished significantly over the past year and a half, its legacy still defines Washington's engagement with the states of the region.U.S. policymakers must abandon the tired Russia-centric tack and develop new individualized approaches to the states of the greater Black Sea region and Central Asia. By treating each country based on its merits, as opposed to approaching the region as a set of contested territories, Washington can serve long-term U.S. interests and avoid re-creating a nineteenth-century-style Great Game.

You can read the rest here

Russia and US march in post-Soviet step
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times

An unprecedented military parade in Red Square in Moscow on Sunday, when servicemen from the major North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries will march alongside Russian soldiers, will be a commemorative event marking the 65th anniversary of Victory Day in World War II. Arguably, it is not a parade of NATO troops but rather of Russia's erstwhile allies in the coalition against Adolf Hitler.

You can read the rest of this fairly brief, and equally light-weight on the analysis-front, piece here.  I think Bhadrakumar misses on several extremely important points, what I call ‘reality check,’ but what do you think?

Here is another piece by the same author, Bhadrakumar. This one is a bit better, relatively speaking, that is 😉

A Kosovo on the Central Asian steppes
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times

A robust geopolitical thrust by the United States aimed at creating a role for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in resolving conflicts in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan promises to rewrite the great game rivalries in Central Asia in anticipation of an Afghan settlement. The US initiative poses political challenges to Russia, which is a member of the 56-member OSCE, and China, which is not. The security vehicles piloted by each the respective two regional powers - the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - are being outmaneuvered by the US.

Paradoxically, Russia and China could seize the initiative if the OSCE plan to stabilize the situation in Kyrgyzstan somehow crash-lands and ethnic tensions, violence and anarchy ensue. But that would be a dubious blessing as Russia and China too are stakeholders in regional stability in their own ways.


'B team' for the Afghan war
The unkindest cut of all is that it is Kazakhstan, which both Moscow and Beijing counted to be their most sober and thoughtful regional partner, which is heading the OSCE chariot. As Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev firmly asserted, "There is no doubt a new OSCE strategy on Afghanistan is necessary."

The US is delighted, and as a quid pro quo, Washington has accommodated the Kazakh leaderships' desire to chair an OSCE summit meeting within the year in Astana and thereby claim a legacy on the world stage. The last time the OSCE held a summit meeting was in 1999. This is also the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act..

Again, I don’t consider the piece heavy-weight by any means, and in fact that’s exactly why I am listing it here…It may open up a few of our readers whom I know to be very savvy in this area;-) Now, the following piece seems to have somel dose of realism: [Read more...]

Another ‘Viable’ Candidate Bites the Dust …

Maksim Bakiyev: A Groomed Puppet Who Never Came to Be King

STBakKyrgyzstan’s Wanted Fugitive: Maksim Bakiyev. The story is more or less the same - the one that has been repeating itself for many decades.  The one based on a script written by the very same conductors who wrote the ones before, and who will probably be writing the ones to come (yes, they’re blessed with longevity; a curse for the rest of us). The location - always a resource rich country or one strategically crucial to resource rich countries. A viable candidate (sometimes candidates) chosen based on the exact same set of criteria - such as degree of corruptibility, and degree of atrocity or criminal tendencies. The grooming and training locations also are the same: the United States of America or the proxy brother, The United Kingdom. The supporting actors are a combination of old timers, think World Bank or IMF, and newer ones with even fancier names, such as XYZ Democratization and Development Fund, posing as well-intentioned NGOs. Okay, enough with the details, since we are very familiar with this repeating script and its consistent execution - collectively known and referred to as United States Foreign Policy.

The Bakiyev ‘Groom & Plant’ script, like almost all its predecessors, contains the same good ole classical elements: strategically important Central Asian nation, vital US fuel supply artery to keep the war machines humming and destroying in Afghanistan, major artery for transportation of heroin, puppet NATO partnership & the same-o-same-o big bad Russians to compete with, dozens of US NGO’s planted to serve you-know-who’s interests (here is a hint: not the people of Kyrgyzstan nor the American people), a staged and orchestrated revolution by our State Department - named after a innocently beautiful flower - to overthrow the guy who was closer to China & Russia, planting a new corrupt despot clan all carrying the same last name-Bakiyev. Then taking the son, the prince, Maksim Bakiyev, under ‘the mighty’ wings and starting his grooming and training here in the United States, helping the new groomed prince set up companies to corrupt & embezzle, and actually having our CIA operator(s) and politicians partner up with him in these enterprises - allocating  US financial experts, politicians,  and operators to execute a massive embezzlement scheme by the ‘groomed & planted’ prince, later to become a wanted fugitive ‘groomed but no longer planted’ prince with at least $70 million to be rescued and brought under protection…

CilBasically, with the Bakiyev story we have another all too familiar foreign policy and practices abroad scenario repeating itself. Before I get into that way too familiar story I want to revisit a couple of old ‘groom & plant’ examples I have covered here at Boiling Frogs post, starting with a ‘groomed & planted, and later protected’ Former Prime Minister of Turkey, Ms. Tansu Ciller as a perfect example of a Middle Eastern leader who was selected, declared ‘viable,’ supported, promoted, installed, and protected by our foreign policy script writers:

1. Ms. Ciller completed her advanced degrees in the United States – M.S. from the University of New Hampshire and PhD from the University of Connecticut. During this extended period while she resided in the US we had ample time and opportunity to train and mold her for the leadership position in Turkey.

2. Ms. Ciller was granted citizenship in the United States. In order to keep this fact from tarnishing her image during her candidacy campaign in Turkey and afterwards, we designated her US citizenship status ‘Classified and Top Secret’ on the grounds of Sensitive Diplomatic Relations. To this date, despite all attempts, Turkish authorities have been unable to have these files opened.

3. Ms. Ciller and her husband Ozer Ciller were closely involved with certain CIA operations prior to and after her return to Turkey, and their intimate relationship continued throughout her tenure as Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey. In fact, the CIA’s Roger Tamraz (see BCCI) was their partner in two front companies: ‘Emperyal’, which acquired and operated six (6) Casinos in Turkmenistan, and, ‘Lapis,’ involved with the oil pipeline project.

4. Ms. Ciller and her husband, before being considered ‘viable’ by us, already had an established shady financial past, including involvement in an embezzlement scandal connected to the collapse of ‘Istanbul Bankasi’, one of Turkey’s largest private banks. This along with involvements fortified Ms. Ciller’s qualification criteria when compared to competing applicants.

5. Ms. Ciller understood and participated in Turkey’s important strategic and operational role in the supply and transportation of heroin. She skillfully and very aggressively combined and furthered the marriage between the state military-police-intelligence and the underground heroin industry. Her notoriety even reached the German Courts, where she was accused of supporting and protecting the drug mafia – active not only in Turkey but elsewhere, including Europe and Central Asia.

6. Ms. Ciller played a direct role in scandals involving corruption, embezzlement, and state sponsored terrorism and narcotics operations. The best known scandal, one of her masterpieces, is known as ‘Susurluk’. Ciller and her husband – who is known for his mafia links and dealings, were directly implicated in Susurluk. The high profile kept by Ms. And Mr. Ciller during these scandals and their handling of them afterwards significantly bolstered their ‘value’ and ‘viability’ for us.

7. Ms. Ciller’s ‘known’ wealth is confirmed to be over $50 million, all of which was gained after she became a ‘’viable’ candidate supported directly by the US. A large portion of her investments and accounts are in the United States.

BhuttoZAnd here is our second example with the almost exact same script, a ‘groomed & planted, and many times rescued’ puppet(s) in Pakistan. I am making that ‘puppet’ plural since the same script happens to extend to the spouse who currently rules, kinda! And here is the list for the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ms. Benazir Bhutto:

.

1. Ms. Bhutto obtained her bachelor degree in the United States – BA from Radcliffe College at Harvard University. Later she attended Oxford University in the UK where she pursued International Law and Diplomacy. She spent a total of eight years in the US and UK – 1969-1977. Again, this time spent ‘abroad’ was ideal for the satisfactory grooming of Ms. Bhutto for ‘installment.’

2. Ms. Bhutto was granted British Citizenship and maintained her dual citizenship throughout her career as a candidate and later as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Her husband, the current President of Pakistan, also received British citizenship and has maintained his dual citizenship to date. The perceived conflict of interest back in her home country did not prove to be an obstacle for ‘us’ or the Bhuttos, thanks to our PR and global image projection activities.

3. Ms. Bhutto and her husband maintained intimate relationships with the underground economy and high level players of the heroin pipeline. Ms. Bhutto was a close ally, protector, and intimate friend of convicted Pakistani Drug Baron and Former Parliamentarian, Ayub Afridi, who like Bhutto, was given protection and safe haven in Dubai, one of our closest allies. These relationships and direct connections, some of which were directly inherited from her father, significantly bolstered Ms. Bhutto’s value for us and our British counterparts.

4. Ms. Bhutto and her husband proved to be desirably ambitious and admirably skilled in using their power, position, and connections, together with our protection, to misuse their proceeds of corruption and embezzlements to accumulate great wealth. Today her husband, who inherited this wealth, is the fifth richest man in Pakistan with a net worth of nearly $2 billion. As confirmation of their successful accumulation of wealth, in the 90s Ms. Bhutto and her husband purchased a 20-bedroom mansion in Surrey, England. They were known for their proficiency in receiving ‘kickbacks.’ Just the kickbacks they received from Swiss Cargo Inspection Companies alone were worth $12 million, which they stashed wisely in offshore companies in Swiss bank accounts.

5. Ms. Bhutto’s Bill of Mental Health was not of much interest. However, she was permitted to transfer credits from her husband, Mr. Ali Asif Zardari. His is a far more interesting mental health record, made all the more interesting since she pledged to place him in an official position of power. He and his ‘mental health’ conditions proved to be extremely useful in ‘necessary’ operations involving murder, drug smuggling, corruption, and embezzlement, thus our making an exception for Ms. Bhutto was justified in this particular case.

6. Ms. Bhutto exhibited great skills in ‘Multiple Image Projection’. With our direct backing and promotion she quickly sold her image as a needed progressive, democratic, and pro humanitarian leader for Pakistan. Just as quickly, at home in Pakistan, she was able to establishherself as equal to if not better than her dictatorial predecessors by sanctioning and carrying out extrajudicial killings, torture, persecution of religious minorities, and arbitrary detention. She also determinedly took extraordinary measures to muzzle the independent media. These skills were also applied to her utilization and exploitation of feministic support. At the same time she was portraying herself as a progressive and feminist example for ‘that’ part of the world, she was making deals and establishing close ties with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, notorious for their abuse of women…

Maksim Bakiyev: A Brief & MSM-Preferred Case Background

Let’s start with the commonly known, easily retrievable Wikipedia and mainstream media based background on Maksim Bakiyev and related recent news.

Who is Maksim Bakiyev? He is the 33 year old, fugitive, Kyrgyz businessman, the younger son of Kyrgyzstan’s former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Maksim currently lives in the United Kingdom - where he’s been granted residency and provided with protection (including for his embezzled millions). He studied legal law in Kyrgyzstan. According to his Wikipedia bio:

He received additional education on legal issues in Britain and the US. As a student, Maksim worked in a consultation firm, specializing in investment into emerging markets in Central Asia and the Middle East. Maksim was widely believed to be the richest man in Kyrgyzstan.

Hmmmmmm. What are the major information points missing here? What the heck did he really study in the US and Britain? Which universities? Was it Langley Campus? Where did he reside? McLean, Virginia? What was the name of this mysterious consulting firm specializing in investment into emerging markets in Central Asia & the Middle East? Was it one of James Baker’s firms? Or was it Henry Kissinger’s? Or, was it Carlyle? And, how did he become the richest man in Kyrgyzstan, from having nothing, in less than 5 years?

After skipping over all these important ‘missing links,’ we are fast forwarded to the latest presented by the media and here at Wikipedia:

Maksim was in charge of delivering fuel to the Manas International Airport, which also hosts a US airbase,[2] through Mina Corp. Maksim was appointed the head of Central Agency for Development in October of 2009. Since the 2010 overthrow he has been charged with embezzlement and abuse of power by the interim government. It is suspected that transferred about $35 million of a $300 million loan from Russia into his private bank accounts.[3] Prosecutors also allege that companies he owned almost $80 million in taxes on aviation fuel.

And finally, his latest and current status has been summed up below:

When the 2010 uprising took place, Bakiyev was headed to the US for a series of meetings in Washington.[5] However, he never showed up, and it is believed he spent his time in Latvia. In May Interpol posted Maxim Bakiyev as wanted on its website.

On June 13, 2010 Maksim was arrested in the UK when he landed at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire in a privately hired jet.[6] He is seeking asylum there, but the interim Kyrgyz government is demanding his extradition. A senior Kyrgyz official warned that the interim government would consider shutting down the Manas US airbase if Britain refuses to hand him over. [7] However, this was later denounced by president of Kyrgyzstan, Otunbaeva.

On June 18, 2010, it was reported that Bakiyev was granted temporary asylum in the UK, but this was later refuted by the UK Border Agency. [8] He does however have permission to stay pending consideration of request for asylum.

As you can see above, I highlighted another important missing link – a major point that has been so far glossed-over: This fugitive was initially headed to the US for a series of meetings in Washington. And these meetings were set up during and after the scandals involving him coming into the surface. Okay, at The State Department, CIA, and of course the not-so-visible agenda-setters at their companies, think tanks, and front NGOs? Then what happened? I guess  it was decided that he was too hot of a potato in too hot of an environment, so our State Department put a request to their counterparts in Britain to kindly ‘receive and harbor’ their ‘groomed & planted’ Kyrgyz prince…and they did.

So the above information is the sketch, the general story line on the ‘Bakiyev Story.’ Then, there are some additional juicy details and tidbits provided by a few, although still highly sanitized and consciously refrained from posing ‘the real’ questions. Let’s take a look at these and pose logical questions as we go.

Maksim Bakiyev & ‘Foreign’ Facilitated Embezzlement Schemes

So how did Maksim Bakiyev’s meager personal business grow into a major empire encompassing banking, oil, and telecommunication industries? We don’t have the complete answer to this question; not yet. Not with so much information still buried and ‘protected,’ and with only little sketchy details here and there. [Read more...]