The next big international story?

Iran has popped up now and then on this blog over the last number of weeks. I had indicated that the situation looks set to worsen, and if one were to read between the lines, it seems that in the run up the US elections, Iran will figure prominently. It looks like it might turn into a showdown.

This report from Fox news indicates how the story might develop. Senior US figures like Rumsfeld are hinting at something down the line, it is something to watch for. The Fox news report indicates:

President Bush said Monday the United States was exploring whether Iran had any role in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We’re digging into the facts to see if there was one,” Bush said in an Oval Office photo opportunity. “We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved … I have long expressed my concerns about Iran. After all, it’s a totalitarian society where people are not allowed to exercise their rights as human beings.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it had been known that there were senior Al Qaeda members in Iran “for some time” and that Iran had been helping Lebanese Hezbollah in moving terrorists down through Syria into Lebanon, then down into Israel.

“So we know that Iran has been on the terrorist list,” Rumsfeld said. “We know that Iran has been notably unhelpful along the border of both Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Some experts wonder whether Tehran will be the next U.S. target in the War on Terror. Loftus said one option the United States could utilize to put pressure on Iran to stop its supposed dirty deeds — such as allegedly trying to make nuclear weapons — would be to establish a naval blockade.

American and British officials may ask the United Nations for action against Iran, Loftus added. Meetings are planned for September and November on the topic.

“My suspicion is, in September we’ll really have evidence that Iran is lying through their teeth,” Loftus said. “We’ll put in a naval blockade and without oil exports, in three weeks the economy of Iran will collapse and it will either be neutered or there will be a regime change from within.”

“We’re not going to invade Iran but [are] probably going to blockade it with the full backing of the United Nations,” he continued. “That’s what is in store for the fall.”

FOX News foreign affairs analyst Alireza Jafarzadeh noted that besides the Sept. 11 report detailing the known Iran-Al Qaeda ties, Iraqi officials have said Iran is the main source of foreign fighters behind the insurgency in Iraq.

“I think it all boils down to what policy the U.S. wants to pursue to contain the threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons and the bigger problems Iran is posing,” Jafarzadeh said. “They [U.S.] should pursue a zero-tolerance policy.”

This is amazing stuff, its very similar PR stuff to what happened in the lead up the Iraq war.

A naval blockade of Iran would certainly heighten tensions among the Shia community. Added to this are reports by American intelligence officials who believe that Iran has been supplying Shia rebels in Iraq with advanced weaponry, to aid the destruction of heavy armour, or even helicopters.

Further media reports dwell on the situation further, including this Reuters report:

The United States is determined to stop Iran getting atomic weapons, and has signalled Washington will not rule out an attack if peaceful diplomacy failed to achieve this.

President George W. Bush’s top official on nuclear on-proliferation, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, was asked during a brief visit to Israel if the United States could consider such an attack.

“President Bush is determined to try and find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said. “But we are determined that they are not going to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.”

It continues:

The United States wants Iran brought before the U.N. Security Council to face possible sanctions, but Bolton said Washington did not see such measures as automatic.

“The most important reason to take Iran to the Security Council is to heighten political pressure,” he said.

“It is by no means inevitable that the Security Council has to impose economic sanctions or take other steps, that’s why this really lies in Iran’s hands.”

Iran on Sunday rejected European demands it abandon sensitive nuclear activities but reiterated its readiness to provide assurances that its atomic ambitions are entirely peaceful.

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    Iraq is preparation for invasion of Iran.
    gönderen: John Griffiths Friday March 21, 2003 at 07:56 PM
    john_596@hotmail.com

    The ultimate purpose for the invasion of Iraq is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran.

    A fully footnoted version should be completed soon.

    The ultimate purpose of the unprecedented actions and postures being taken by the current United States administration is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence from sources available to the public, to indicate that Iraq is not the real goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran. As surprising as it may sound, control of a certain pipeline route from Baku to the Persian Gulf, through Iran is the final goal.

    The East Asia oil market has been clearly identified by the United States Department of Energy and other industry research groups as being the fastest growing and the most profitable oil market in the coming decades. The key to control of the East Asian oil trade, as I’ve explained below, is control of the shortest and most economical route for transporting oil from the Caspian Basin to the open sea. That route leads from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf. Control of this route is also essential in maintaining some degree of control over the emerging giant economy of China. Control of this pipeline route is the ultimate trump card in the intensely competitive game being played out among contending world oil companies in the Caspian Basin. Finally, it is felt that control of this route and the resulting control of the East Asian market, will allow American oil companies to maintain their supremacy over an increasingly successful and confident European Union.

    Please take a moment and read through the following paragraphs and let me know if it strikes you as particularly probable. Much of it can be sourced to the Dept. of Energy’s web site “Country Analysis Briefs” and “Caspian Oil Export Optionsâ€?. Blair’s comments are quoted in the February 3rd issue of TIME. The remainder can be found on a variety of web sites relating to the Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes and projections of future oil demand in Asia. It is a fairly simple task to confirm the basic tenets of this article because they are discussed throughout all current oil industry publications and literature. A fully footnoted article will be completed soon. Until then, anyone looking for sources can find them easily enough on “dogpileâ€? or “ask jeevesâ€?. Simply type in “pipeline from Caspian Sea through Iran to Persian Gulfâ€? or any of the other related topics.

    The rise of a confident and successful European Union has presented an increasingly serious challenge to the dominance of American corporate interests.
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    Major American corporations have responded by influencing Washington to attempt to counter this challenge in a wide variety of ways, NAFTA being one of the earlier responses and perhaps the example best known to the public. Almost certainly, the most central aspect of this global economic struggle is the competition to become the 21st century’s dominant player in the oil trade.

    The Caspian Sea Basin has emerged as the key arena in the struggle among western powers for dominance in the post-Soviet Union era. Although moderately well reported in the Western European media, the American public has remained completely oblivious to the competition among the world’s major oil companies for advantageous position in the phenomenally rich oil fields of the Caspian Sea basin.

    The U.S. Department of Energy has identified the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region as, by far, the most important reserves for the next several decades. The DOE has reported the oil reserves (known and projected) of the Caspian Sea region to be comparable to those of the Arabian peninsula (for example) and to exceed those of the United States and Western Europe by two fold. “Caspian energy development is likely to be in high gear by 2015.�4 If suitable export routes can be secured by American or European Union oil interests, oil reserves in the Caspian Basin will mean comparative independence from the Gulf States.

    These vast reserves were formerly unavailable to the west because the entire shoreline of the Caspian Sea was controlled by the Soviet Union and Iran. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast area around the Caspian Sea was broken up into a number of newly independent states. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan hold much of the land bordering the Caspian Sea. These newly formed states are represented by small oligarchies that have proved relatively eager to make deals with American and EU oil companies. Financially satisfying a very few key nationals in these new states has been sufficient to secure immensely profitable drilling and pipeline deals. From the perspective of western corporations, it’s almost like doing business in the Gulf region a half century ago.

    Russia and Iran hold the remaining shoreline. Russia has its own corporate oil interests and, although as eager for profits as any other player, does not lend itself to one-sided oil development arrangements.
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    On the southernmost shore of the Caspian, Iran, as explained below, controls the ideal pipeline route for shipping oil to the Persian Gulf and then on to India, Indonesia and China. This East Asian oil market is expected to be, by far, the most profitable in coming decades.

    The incredibly oil rich area of the Caspian Basin, being fought over by every nation possessing a sizable oil industry, holds the promise for the West of comparative independence from oil now being supplied by the increasingly uncooperative Islamic states in the Persian Gulf region.

    Unreported in the mainstream American media the intense struggle between American and EU oil interests for favorable positions in the oil fields of the Caspian Sea region is much more widely discussed in Europe. Contending players (in what the European media calls the reincarnation of the “great game� of Victorian times) include nearly every industrialized country on the planet.

    Even China, whose oil consumption is expected increase 10 times faster than Europe’s in the next decade, has made attempts to tap into the Caspian oil fields. China, anticipating its vast energy needs in the coming decades, had plans for an 1,800 mile pipeline from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, through Kazakhstan, to western China. The cost of this pipeline would have stretched China’s financial resources to the limit. To justify its construction, China needed assurances that a certain minimum number of barrels be available for pipeline transport each and every year. Initially, the government of Kazakhstan was willing to guarantee the requisite oil flow and China prepared to go forward with the plan. However, what some sources describe as “outside influences bent on derailing China’s pipeline plans� convinced or paid Kazakhstan to revise their oil export estimate downward. China was then forced to scrap any immediate plans for direct access to Caspian oil.

    Preventing China from gaining direct access to the Caspian oil fields is absolutely essential to creating and maintaining the profit stream envisioned by corporate interests well connected with the current American Administration. In the opinion of the current United States administration, American corporations and their partners must control the export routes from the Caspian Basin that will supply China, India and Indonesia’s vast need for oil during the coming decades.
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    The DOE has identified China as becoming the world largest oil consumer during the early part of this century. As the century progresses, the oil consumption of China together with Japan, the Korean peninsula. Indonesia and India is expected to increase at a rate ten times greater than American or European consumption. The DOE has further reported that East Asian oil sales will command substantially higher prices than oil sold in Europe or North America. These factors combine to make this particular market the most sought after prize of the “great game�. The control of the oil flowing to East Asia is one of the most important, if not the most important keys to global economic domination in the 21st century.

    At present, all of the existing and proposed pipelines for oil export from the Caspian Sea run more or less westward to the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. A pipeline from the northern Caspian through Russia to Western Europe would be far too costly, and would put Russia in an intolerably strong position with regard to the European Union’s energy needs. Oil presently being piped to the Black Sea eventually must be transported by tanker through the Dardanelle’s to the Mediterranean, a route that is becoming increasingly troublesome due to congested traffic in the straits and Turkey’s “environmental concerns� read: financial demands.

    Even under the best of circumstances, transporting oil through Turkey to the Mediterranean and then through the Suez Canal for shipment to the Far East would be costly and politically unpredictable requiring the continuing consent of the numerous intervening Islamic nations. The much discussed pipeline route from Baku to Ceyan through Turkey, because of the length and cost, has always been considered the default option.

    DOE and EIA studies, available to the public, report the most economical export route for oil from the Caspian Basin to the East Asian markets as being a direct route through Iran to the Persian
    Gulf.

    The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act has prevented American companies from doing business with Iran. The underlying reason for the sanctions against Iran has been to discourage European oil interests from risking capital on a trans-Iran pipeline and buy time for American efforts to “create a more favorable political climate� in Iran.

    page 4 of
    However, because of the enormous profits a trans-Iran pipeline would bring, Dick Cheney, along with many other American oil industry leaders, could see that the Sanctions Act would not be able to discourage EU oil interests for very long. As time passed, industry leaders became furious because American oil has been forced to stand idly by while the EU (particularly France) has been gaining a progressively stronger investment position in Iran.

    For these reasons, Dick Cheney had been a very strong proponent for lifting this the Iran Sanctions Act before he and George Bush were elected.

    However, even if the Sanctions Act had been repealed, the fundamentalist government of Iran would have proven to be a very difficult partner. The French energy industry along with other EU countries have already entered into contracts with the Iranian government worth billions. With the present Iranian regime in power, American oil would have to go, hat in hand, to the end of the line. Even if the American oil industry could convince Iran to give them some contracts, American oil would be in a position not much better than its present problematic reliance on oil from the other Islamic States.

    Asking Congress to repeal the Iran Sanctions Act is considered a non-starter by the Bush administration. Also, as explained above, this would still leave the fundamentalist government in power. For these reasons, a plan for affecting a regime change in Iran came to be of utmost importance.

    It was decided that a regime change in Iran would be the only way to out-maneuver France and the EU and the only long-term way to protect the major investment that will be required to build an American owned Caspian to Persian Gulf pipeline. After the election of the Bush administration, the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act took on a new purpose. The Bush administration sees the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act as somewhat reducing the possibility of non-American interests making a pipeline deal with Iran before that regime change can be affected.

    Regardless of these circumstances, in the thinking of both the American oil industry and the EU oil industry, this pipeline route from the southern Caspian, directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf, is the key to dominance in the 21st century oil trade.
    Page 5 of
    To bring this about required a comprehensive and interlocking strategy that would have been impossible to carry out under a Democratic administration. The chances for success in carrying out such an ambitious plan would have been nearly as remote under a Republican administration less intimately connected to the oil industry. The accidental election of George Bush, with his intimate ties to the industry, provided American oil with an opportunity that was very unlikely to ever be repeated.

    The invasion of Iran is no small undertaking. Iran is far more populous than either Afghanistan or Iraq. Also, Iran is better armed. The most prudent way to secure Iran is to first flank it on both sides (Afghanistan and Iraq).

    This provides both the best possible staging areas for the invasion of Iran and prevents retaliation from those two nearby countries. Also the future occupation of Iran would prove to be much more thorny without first pacifying the neighboring areas. Finally, any new government established in Iran that cooperates with western interests would be subject to constant destabilizing actions from Islamic fundamentalists in near-by states unless those states were first secured.

    Presented in a completely candid manner, this plan would be sure to be seen as a blatant use of America’s military to enable the designs of private corporate interests. Some attempt needed to be made at manufacturing plausible justification for invasion of these three countries to create a degree of acceptance with the American public and the world community.

    Sorting through recent domestic and world events that have seemed to justify armed intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq to determine which occurrences were “managed� is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is clear to most of the world, (outside the United States) that the current administration has intended to invade Iraq all along, regardless what Saddam Hussein does or doesn’t do.

    If Iraq doesn’t show the U.N. some weapons of mass destruction “they are hiding them and must be invaded�. If Iraq does show the U.N. some weapons, then “they have been lying to us and must be invaded�. Either way, it has been set up so there is absolutely no way Iraq can avoid invasion.

    page 6 of
    After Saddam Hussein’s regime has been toppled, do not expect the current administration to make any serious attempt at establishing a democratic government. Democratic governments are far too difficult to control by foreign interests. The uncertainties of the democratic process are very often not compatible with corporate timetables. As has been done in Afghanistan, in Iraq (and later in Iran) the Bush administration will encourage a state of controllable semi-chaos in each country. Ethnic minorities must never be given independence because they would be far too cohesive. Rival factions and even some factions overtly hostile to the occupation will be allowed to remain at large. This serves the dual purpose of preventing the establishment of a popular democratic government and provides on-going justification for an American military presence. Minor firefights and skirmishes in the countryside will also divert media attention from corporate activities.

    A “likely� group of nationals will be selected by the occupying forces to speak for each country. To be selected, any group of nationals must meet the most important pre-requisite. They must be expected to demonstrate a cooperative attitude toward American corporate interests.

    As a clear illustration of why the current Administration will not want to establish truly democratic governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, look to Germany and Japan. Both of these countries were invaded and occupied by the United States. In both countries, the U.S. government went to great lengths over an extended period of time to establish truly popular democratic governments. As a result, both of these nations are stable sovereign entities that make their own independent decisions based on what they believe to be most favorable to their national corporate interests and/or people.

    When dealing with legitimate, sovereign and democratic governments, particularly those who take the opinions of their ordinary citizens into consideration, global corporations, understandably find it far more difficult to carry out their plans in a swift, consistent and predictable manner.

    page 7 of
    The Tony Blair Factor:

    Most of the world doesn’t believe the Bush administration has yet made a plausible case for war with Iraq. Many feel the current administration is squandering the respectability of the United States all around the world. In Europe, Korea and Japan, the talk among the average citizens is decidedly anti-war. The vast majority of people in Western Europe (estimates range from 80-90%) not only do not believe the American Administration’s stated reasons for war but also believe the real reasons are being concealed.

    Tony Blair, on the other hand, has assured Bush his unstinting support. In spite of the opposition of many in his own party, and widespread criticism from a majority of the British public, Blair has promised that Britain’s troops will fight alongside American forces in Iraq. What’s the story here?

    Well reported is Blair’s aspiration to make Britain a central figure in the attempt to assure that the European Union is a dependable, strategic global partner for the United States. Corporate Britain is very troubled by the signs of a growing Franco-German alliance.

    Blair and corporate Britain are offended by the notion that France and Germany (not Britain) will determine the future of the European Union.

    Less well reported, are corporate Britain’s troubles in the Caspian Sea oil fields. British oil is facing very stiff competition from the seemingly endless number of international oil companies fighting for dominance in the region. While France has been developing an ever more comfortable relationship with Iran, British oil is being rebuffed at every turn.

    As much as 50% of the known oil reserves in the Caspian Basin lie under water. Although the borders of the new Caspian States are fairly well defined, ownership of the sea itself is highly unsettled. Because they are in dispute and, so-to-speak, “up for grabs�, it is these offshore deposits that are being fought over most vigorously. Which nation’s corporate giants will reap the biggest profits hinges to a large extent on the claims and counter-claims to different regions of the Sea and the vast oil deposits beneath its waters.

    page 8 of
    To offer just one example among many: British Petroleum and Britain’s Aramco have been working closely with the government of Azerbaijan exploring an oil rich area known as the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum research vessel exploring this area. The Iranian gunboat ordered the B.P. vessel out of the waters, claiming they belonged to Iran. To add insult to injury, Iran announced its decision to award a license for the area to Royal Dutch Shell.

    Britain owns approx. 20% of this particular venture (the Azerbaijani Caspian Oil Project). US Oil interests own approx 47%. Azerbaijan is providing their cooperation for a 20% share.

    Little progress has been made among the littoral states as to how to divide control of the Caspian Sea. Understandably, very influential elements in corporate Britain see the present Iranian regime and increasing French investment in Iran as a major hindrance to a “successful outcome� in the new oil fields of the Caspian Basin. Both Britain and America see the current regime in Iran as a serious obstacle to securing their share of the profits from the vast Caspian oil reserves and the East Asian oil market during the next several decades.

    The Azerbaijani Project, however, is only one example of many current Anglo-American projects. Once the trans-Iran pipeline is in place, highly profitable deals will be made with all the Caspian States for transport of their oil to, what will be, the most profitable market of all: East-Asia. As the Chinese economy emerges in the next two decades, it will be, far and away, the most important consumer of world oil.

    A fairly compact summary of Tony Blair’s motives for committing British troops in Iraq (and presumably later in Iran) was contained in remarks he made to British diplomats in early January 2003: “It is simply wrong�, he said, “for rich nations to expect the United States to do all the dirty work in the world.� By “rich nations� Blair meant nations with a significant corporate presence in the Caspian Basin. Then Blair got right to the point: “Such a policy is not just indulgent;� he said, “it risks sacrificing any chance of influencing post-conflict arrangements�.

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    What Tony Blair meant by “post-conflict arrangements� was perhaps unclear to the British public and completely opaque to the American public, but it was crystal clear to British corporations with interests in the Caspian Sea. It was equally clear to the American oil interests who have guaranteed British oil a percentage share of the future trans-Iran pipeline exports to the biggest market in the coming decades: East Asia.

    A note on the foresight of Thomas Jefferson:

    The founding fathers were well aware that they had formed a completely new form of government. They were very conscious of the fragility of their experiment. This forced them to think deeply and broadly about the most serious threats to their new government “of the people, by the people and for the people�. They had to meditate on both the threats that existed in their time and also clearly envision threats that might emerge in the future. The institution of “corporate aristocracy� (as Jefferson referred to it) fit into both of those categories. Here are Jefferson’s comments, uttered almost 190 years ago.

    “I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.”

    Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816.

    We have already reached the point where the “moneyed corporations� no longer feel any need to “challenge� the government. They have already fully integrated themselves into it. The executive branch is already peopled by corporate men, the law makers find it nearly impossible to be elected without corporate financing and the administrators of the regulatory agencies (such as the SEC) are selected by an executive branch whose main concern is to avoid any threat to the corporate world’s ability to act unilaterally and without serious regulation of any kind.

    Under these circumstances, there can be no real struggle between the government and the corporations. The only struggle is between corporations and a powerless and largely voiceless public. Since, when it comes to challenging or regulating the large corporations, the public no longer has any real

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    representation in government, corporations have already reached the point where they can treat the public with the same contempt the aristocrats of centuries past treated the dirty and hungry peasants (not publicly, of course).

    Although corporations have absolutely no democratic legitimacy, they exert a degree of control over domestic and foreign policy decisions that approaches autocracy. A point has now been reached where even some of the most uninformed Americans realize that, when it comes to global politics and in many cases, domestic politics as well, the United States government represents not the American people but the interests of large American corporations in general and a selected number of large corporations in particular.

    One of the more blatant examples of this was the government’s transparently insincere attempt at corporate regulation following the stock market scandals of 2002. Despite the desperate appeals of the victimized public, nothing of substance was done.

    Certainly, terrorists and heads of state that pose a real danger to the world must be identified and eliminated from all countries in which they operate. However, it is not some foreign born terrorist menace that poses the greatest danger to the American values of representation, equality, transparency and freedom. It is the “corporate aristocracy� of which Jefferson warned us, operating beyond the public’s gaze and now intertwined within the structures of the government agencies that were created to regulate it, that poses the most real and present threat to our endangered democratic ideals.

    Page 11 of
    Footnotes:

    (1) “U.S. Presidential Executive Orders signed in 1995 prohibit U.S. companies from conducting business with Iran. Furthermore, the U.S. Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 imposes sanctions on non-U.S. companies that make large investments in the Iranian oil and gas sectors.� Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

    (2) “…routes through Iran to the Persian Gulf are the shortest and most economical for exporting oil from the Caspian Sea. In addition, the Persian Gulf routes would transport oil to Asia, where the demand for oil is projected to grow faster and command a higher price than the Mediterranean markets that most of the competing pipelines would serve.â€? Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

    (3) “. . .several conflicts have arisen over mutual claims to different regions of the Sea, especially in its southern waters. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum (BP) Azeri research vessel exploring the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure, ordering the ship out of waters Iran claims to own. Azerbaijan, for its part, has objected to Iran’s decision to award Royal Dutch/Shell and Lasmo a license to conduct seismic surveys in a region that Azerbaijan considers to fall in its territory.�
    eia.doe.gov EIA Country Analysis Briefs, Caspian Sea
    Region, Caspian Legal Status Unresolved,

    (4) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: World Energy Consumption 1970-2015, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

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    (5) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: China: How to Think About Its Growing Wealth and Power, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

    (6)

    (7)

    (1) Time February 3, 2003: page 41
    (3) Pipeline through Iran cheaper and more direct route to Asia
    Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, News & Trends Central Asia
    Volume 3, issue #16 – 09-06-1998
    A

    “Those that control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production, said energy expert James Dorian recently in Oil & Gas Journal on September 10.

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