Saturday, August 09, 2008


Oil for us, 2,000 people so far dead

by Larry Geller

Tskhinvali I wouldn’t want to cause anyone any distress… nor, I’m sure would our favorite daily paper… but:

TBLISI, Georgia (CNN) -- Dozens of Russian warplanes bombed civilian and military targets in the former republic of Georgia on Saturday, and a Russian ambassador said that as many as 2,000 people had been killed in in the capital of separatist Georgian province South Ossetia.

"The city of Tskhinvali no longer exists. There is nothing left. It was wiped out by the Georgian military," the Russian news agency Interfax said, quoting the Russian ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko. [CNN, 8/9/2008]

Yes, it’s death for oil time once again, though if that news appeared in your paper, it might spoil breakfast perhaps. Better to leave it as some obscure little tiff over in the Caucasus, wherever that is. So the real news has been disappeared. Oil. Death:

Last week fighting broke out. After first calling a ceasefire, Georgia used the element of surprise to launch a snap invasion, sending armoured units into the enclave and reportedly capturing the capital, Tskhinvali.

When the first emergency meeting of the Security Council ended in deadlock in the early hours of Friday, Russia sent in the tanks.

But Russia's decision to invade has little to do with the welfare of South Ossetia's 70,000 inhabitants.

In fact, it is a powerplay in what many are now calling the New Cold War.

It was appropriate that this struggle should flare to life in the Caucasus, because this region of bubbling ethnic tensions is really home to a battle not for ideology, but for oil.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, or BTC, is lauded as a miracle of modern engineering. Costing £2bn, it will eventually carry a million barrels of oil a day across more than a thousand miles of some of the world's most inhospitable terrain.

It is also the only pipeline linking Central Asia's vast oil and gas fields – second only to the Middle East's in size – to the West. All other pipes pass through Russia or Iran, putting western customers at the mercy of their regimes.

For the United States, the key to the pipeline has been cementing firm relationships with the three states – Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan – through which the pipeline passes.

America has given generous aid to all three nations. It turned a blind eye to Turkish raids on Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq, was silent about rigged elections in Azerbaijan, and since 2002 has had US troops in Georgia training the locals. In April it backed Georgia's call to join Nato.

But for Putin, a former KGB colonel, and his hand-picked (some would say puppet) successor Dmitri Medvedev, the pipeline stands in the way of Russia's imperial ambitions. [Oil and prestige fuel the 'New Cold War', Scotsman, 8/10/2008]

Bush is probably hobnobbing with Putin at the Olympics, but both of them know that the battle for oil has wiped out a city and resulted (so far) in about 2,000 civilian casualties. Maybe they don’t care.

But neither I nor the Advertiser want to disturb you… as your neighbors fill up their SUVs, Tskhinvali, or what’s left of it, burns, don’t think for a moment that it’s so we can get their oil.

"The city of Tskhinvali no longer exists. There is nothing left. It was wiped out by the Georgian military"

Bush fiddles 


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