Tag Archives: russia

Forcing Common Interests With Iran

Groceries and Election Results…,” by river, Baghdad Burning, http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_riverbendblog_archive.html#110872871401791299, 18 February 2005.

The possibly-defunct Riverbend is skeptical of the Iranian leanings of the Iraq’s popular new government

“And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* – you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days. I numbly reached for the bags he handed me, trying to rise out of that sinking feeling that overwhelmed me when the results were first made public.

Is anyone surprised that the same people who came along with the Americans – the same puppets who all had a go at the presidency last year – are the ones who came out on top in the elections? Jaffari, Talbani, Barazani, Hakim, Allawi, Chalabi… exiles, convicted criminals and war lords. Welcome to the new Iraq.

Ibraheim Al-Jaffari, the head of the pro-Iran Da’awa party gave an interview the other day. He tried very hard to pretend he was open-minded and that he wasn’t going to turn the once-secular Iraq into a fundamentalist Shia state but the fact of the matter remains that he is the head of the Da’awa party. The same party that was responsible for some of the most infamous explosions and assassinations in Iraq during the last few decades. This is the same party that calls for an Islamic Republic modeled like Iran. Most of its members have spent a substantial amount of time in Iran.

Jaffari cannot separate himself from the ideology of his party.

Then there’s Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). He got to be puppet president for the month of December and what was the first thing he did? He decided overburdened, indebted Iraq owed Iran 100 billion dollars. What was the second thing he did? He tried to have the “personal status” laws that protect individuals (and especially women) eradicated.

Ignoring the fact that SCIRI wants an Iranian-style Guardian Council while Dawa is quietest, these American-Iraqi-Iranian common interests are great news.

I’ve mentioned the Iraq War’s objective of forcing common interests with Iran. Iran is a cynical and realistic power, and Bush is wisely building a natural alliance with the future democratic government.

Around the dial

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  • Pakistan is a failing nuclear state whose core competency is causing trouble. From potentially ending Indian demand for Middle East oil (by provoking a nuclear war) to incitement of anti-Shia violence, Islamabad is trouble. It is trouble for both Tehran and Washington.
  • Afghanistan is a weak state and should be kept that way. “Strong” Afghan states tend to be run by Pashtuns who join their Paki brothers in killing foreigners (Russians, Shia, and Americans being favorite targets).
  • Turkmenistan is a crazy Stalinist dictatorship. Iran has a history with Stanlists regimes — it fought an eight year war with Ba’athi Iraq.
  • Russia and the Caucuses answer the age old question: “What happens when violent, fanatical extremists encounter a violent, decaying empire?” Salafists and the Russian Army have joined together in destroying Chechnya and retarding peace efforts in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Iran fought a war against Taliban Afghanistan in the 1990s – it does not need a string of failed states to its northwest in the 2000s.
  • Iran’s enlightened ethnic policies have kept its Kurds relatively happy, and led to natural ties with Kurds across the Turkish and Iraqi frontiers. Kurds are also military allies of the United States and Britain since the 199s0.
  • Likewise, Shia Iraq is an ally of both America and Iran. The American dream of democracy and the Iranian dream of Shia rule combine in Iraq as nowhere else (except Iran itself). If either party gets bored of the relationship, the Salafists-Ba’athists will make sure they remember.
  • Across the Shia Gulf, the occupied nation of Eastern Arabia suffers under the Wahabi yoke. The Saudis’ “hanging around guys” cause trouble for us, too.

The Bush Administration’s successful dance with Iran has been incredible. Keep up the great work!

Shrinking Russia, Growing Europe

Tilting Westward,” The Economist, http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3599661, 27 January 2005.

EU plans special envoy to help end Moldova strife,” by Sebastian Alison, Reuters, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/B686612.htm, 8 February 2005.

Moldova Ends Iraq Mission,” Baku Today, http://www.bakutoday.net/view.php?d=12349, 10 February 2005.

Putin’s incompetence sends another piece of the old Empire hurtling towards Brussels

When Victor Yushchenko won the Ukrainian presidency, many Russians declared that Russia had “lost” Ukraine thanks to western meddling. Yet in Moldova, Russia is proving quite capable of losing an ally without western help. Four years ago, Moldova’s Communist Party won election by promising pro-Russian policies, including eventual union with Russia and Belarus. Now they are chasing re-election in March by promising pro-western policies, including integration with the European Union. They changed course because even they could not stomach Russia’s strategy of keeping Moldova divided and weak.

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If there was any hope for pro-Russia factions before the governments about-face, Romanian-Ukrainian joint action would torpedo it

A better and more open government in Moldova will deserve a lot more international help, starting with the neighbours. Romania is already offering diplomatic support. Ukraine could offer vital practical help. Transdniestria’s smugglers and arms salesmen—the backbone of the economy, along with a big Ukrainian-owned steelworks—trade through Ukraine, especially via Odessa. The Ukrainian government could cripple Transdniestria by policing the common border tightly. But that would upset Ukrainians.

The now anti-Russian Communist Party decides on an election stunt: withdrawing all twelve soldiers from Iraq.

A group of 12 Moldovan minesweepers returned from Iraq Thursday, ending a six-month deployment in the US-led coalition forces, defense officials said here.

Moldova is in full swing of an election campaign ahead of parliamentary polls early next month and therefore the question of sending more troops to Iraq cannot be raised at the present time, the ministry said.

Europe worries about another “Kaliningrad,” named after the Russian Baltic State spiraling into misery. Kaliningrad is surrounded by the EU already, and talk of geographical determinism certainly doesn’t hurt Europe’s case.

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If Moldova is to achieve deep and irreversible change, however, the EU must offer it a clear path towards eventual membership. It has done this for the Balkan countries, which are no more European and no less troubled than Moldova. Its reluctance to talk of membership for Ukraine looks short-sighted: when Ukraine joins the queue, geography will dictate giving a place to Moldova too. The sooner the process is started, the less the danger of either country wobbling off-course.

This assumes that the Transdniestrian problem will, in effect, solve itself, as the future benefits of EU integration outweigh those of separatism. But Russia will be a big obstacle. At worst, it might even step up its military presence in Transdniestria, to make a second Kaliningrad: a Russian fortress in south-east Europe. The best counter-strategy would be to confront the Russians openly over what they are protecting in Transdniestria: a big, ugly smuggling racket, with a piece of land attached. Even Russia may not want to spend too much political capital in such a cause.

To head it off, the EU prepares for peaceful annexation

The European Union plans to appoint a special envoy to Moldova to help end a frozen conflict in the breakaway Dnestr region as EU interest in the tiny ex-Soviet state picks up, diplomats said on Tuesday.

The move signals Brussels’ desire to bring about an end to the disputed Russian military presence in Europe’s poorest country before Moldova’s neighbour Romania joins the EU in 2007.

“There is no doubt that there is an increase in interest and attention in Moldova,” Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, told Reuters. “The role of the European Union can only be useful.”

More and better connectivity with Brussels than Moscow. The EU is useful as a force for Russian dissolution.

Two Non Stories (And One Future Story)

Russia Says It’s Ready to Arm Saudi Arabia,” by Lyuba Pronina, The Moscow Times, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/02/10/043.html, 10 February 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

Landmark Civic Polls Start Today,” by Raid Qusti and Nasser Al-Salti, Arab News, http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=58768&d=10&m=2&y=2005&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom, 10 February 2005.

In the first non-story, our near-ally Russia agrees to sell military equipment to our near-ally Saudi Arabia, building on a base of selling to near-allies China, India, and Morocco

Moscow is preparing its first major defense contract with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest arms buyer that has traditionally spent its petrodollars on U.S.-made weapons.

The deal is part of a strategy aimed at diversifying Russia’s arms buyers away from China and India, Sergei Chemezov, general director of state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told reporters Wednesday.

Russia also signed an arms contract with Morocco last month, he said, the first since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Make that, outdated military equipment.

Rosoboronexport has orders of $12 billion through 2007, but Chemezov said that this year Rosoboronexport can expect to make $1 billion less in revenues.

“The reason? Our companies cannot produce more modern weapons. [The industry] is in need of investment either from private companies or from the state,” he said. “Today we sell weapons that were designed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”

By itself, this is a puny deal. It’s chump change for obsolete and useless rockets. It is notable because it shows Saudi displeasure about… something. This signals they don’t like something that is going on, or something that we are making them do. Now what could that be?

Saudi citizens are set to cast their first ballots in history when Riyadh region goes to the polls in the first of a landmark municipal elections.

Today’s polls in Riyadh and surrounding areas are the first of three rounds that will eventually see elected representatives take up half the seats on 178 municipal councils across Saudi Arabia.

The remaining seats will be filled by government appointees. The rest of the country will vote in March and April.

“Democractic-style” elections in Araby. This is the second non-story. It’s only for local councils, and only for half of local seats at that. I could care less about women not voting — heck, even a 10% suffrage would be an improvement. But a vote for half the seats on useless councils is the bare minimum. The bare minimum we are forcing them to do.

Asked about the reasons of the substantial differences between the total number of voters in the Riyadh region and of that in the Eastern Province, Prince Mansoor attributed the larger number in the Eastern Province to the efforts exerted by the local committee’s chairman Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin.

These elections are phony. But that the Eastern Province is a different polity is not. The Iraqi Shias have their country, and when the decrepit and cynical Tehran government is overthrown the Persians shall have theirs too. And with free Shia across the desert, and free Shia across the gulf, the Eastern Province Shia shall wake up. And from their dreamlands they will take their freedom and their oil from the Riyadhi Wahabis.

And that will be the story of the House of Saud.