It’s Time to Turn the Tables on Russia

Autor: Rusty Brooks | Categoria: Politică
14-04-2015

There is a great deal of analysis and positing of Russia’s nest steps in Ukraine. There is no shortage of experts willing and able to offer their perspectives regarding what “new” hybrid warfare response the Russians will roll out to continue to hamstring and embarrass the West and how those “new” responses will continue to destabilize Ukraine and threaten countries in the region. It is also interesting, and disturbing, to watch the news on Iran and try to make sense of what the outcomes of the current negotiations on Iranian nuclear ambitions will provide as results.

The US Congress threatens to overturn the negotiated Iranian settlement before it even takes effect. Israel describes the proposed settlement as a direct threat to Israeli security and to regional security. No one seems to make a strong case for why the current proposed settlement is in anyone’s best interests, especially all those who see Iran as a terroristic country and with ulterior motives primarily focused on using any means possible to eliminate damaging economic and trade sanctions. However, there is one positive result that could emerge from the settlement of Iranian nuclear ambitions that could help the EU, reduce Russia’s ability to meddle in regional affairs, and significantly accelerate Russian economic problems and thereby Russian ability to fund “hybrid warfare” in the region.

According to the Iran Petroleum Ministry, the proved natural gas reserves of Iran are about 1,046 trillion cubic feet (29.6 trillion cubic meters) or about 15.8% of world’s total reserves, of which 33% are as associated gas and 67% is in non-associated gas fields. This ranks Iran as second only to Russia in proven gas reserves. If the EU is looking for alternatives to Russian gas, Iran is more than capable of providing another supply source.
The major concerns are how to deliver the gas to the EU and what are regional political implications of Iran supplanting Russia as the major provider of gas for Europe. Yes, there are additional significant concerns of how Iran would spend the money it receives from gas sales and if money would be diverted to investing in centrifuges and regional terror activities. But the current threat from Russian sabre rattling on EU’s borders requires a hard look at the political cost-benefits of the Iranian settlement and how to develop and maintain oversight and inspection programs in Iran that insure adherence to the settlements broad goals.

If a major concern with the proposed Iranian settlement is that it throws Israel to the wolves then that is a false and intentionally jingoistic statement. There is no way that the US, or any of Israel’s serious allies, are going to abandon Israel or intentionally propose a settlement that endangers Israel or regional security. If the US has learned anything in Iraq it is that creating stability in the guise of regime change is a false promise in this region. What happened with the US invasion of Iraq was the very outcome we didn’t need. An emboldened and empowered Iran who had no neighbor to keep it in check. Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, it is better to have a despot you can keep in check than all out civil war (and the outcomes it can generate, e.g., ISIS) you cannot control.

There is no way that Iran, even with its factions, will break up into the destructive sectarian and clan divisions that we see in Iraq or Syria. If the US or Israel or any regional enemy of Iran threatens the Iranian state you will see a quick closing of ranks and a very serious unified response to the threat. Merely using targeted airstrikes and Special Forces operations will not work in Iran. Any attack on Iran will result in a full scale war in the region and the resulting fighting would quickly grow into a large scale nuclear and terroristic war no one wants or needs.

What must happen is that the current negotiations about Iranian nuclear ambitions be allowed to proceed and that the best possible outcomes be designed. It is for certain that no previous negotiations have gotten as far as the current negotiations. Given that we are this close, there should be every effort possible expended to finish the job and structure a settlement that can be effectively implemented. Will everyone get what they want, no, but that should not be a reason to give up and revert back to the status quo which is an increasingly tenuous status as best.

The Russian threat to Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and to its other NATO and EU neighbors, makes the need for an Iranian settlement all the more important. There are rumors that Russia is even provoking the Azeri’s to help keep the Armenians in the Russian sphere. For the first time in a long time, Armenians are looking at where their future political and economic opportunities are best presented. Imagine a settlement that opens the Iranian economy to the region. One neighbor sure to benefit is Armenia. Armenia’s economy would experience significant growth with the reopening of Iran’s economy. If the settlement provided an opportunity to move Iranian energy resources quickly to Europe, the route through Armenia to pipelines in Georgia is the quickest and best route. Moving Armenia towards a growth economy and to being part of a regional economy that includes Iran and Georgia will do a great deal towards moving Armenia towards a European perspective and out of the Russian sphere.

Georgia is a country who is directly threatened by Russian ambitions. Russian presence both in conventional and “little green men” is for sure in both Ossetia and Abkhazia and most likely Russian ambitions are brewing in Samtskhe-Javakheti along the Armenian border. If Russia is not put in check, Georgia could effectively be cut into two pieces, divided along a line basically north-south through Gori. The more serious question for Georgia, much like another target for Russian ambition in Moldova, is who will come to the rescue if Russia does intervene militarily or with hybrid warfare? If Ukraine provides the answer, then no one. However, if the Iranian settlement is achieved and Iran’s energy resources were to flow through Armenia and Georgia, then regional economic development could be a positive countermeasure to Russian influence and meddling.
One additional point to make regarding redirecting Iranian energy resources through Armenia and Georgia and how this could impact Romania. If the pipelines through Turkey would not be made available to Armenian transited Iranian gas due to the current Armenia-Turkey border situation, then another option would be to consider shipping gas from Batumi to Constanta via rail ferry. This has been a much bandied about plan but a positive settlement in Iran could open this option up again to serious economic consideration.

The bottom line is that any positive Iranian settlement opens up the Iran energy market to Europe. Iranian gas would supplant Russian gas which further hamstrings the Russian economy. Given that energy is the primary driver of the Russian economy, further blows to growth in the Russian energy sector limits the resources available to supply Russian expansionism in the region. At some point, probably only driven by serious economic pain, will Russia loosen the screws on Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, along with other EU and NATO neighbors. Then there must be serious discussions with Russia about addressing their regional concerns and providing them with measures and policies that dissuade them from their current meddlesome and destructive undertakings. Here the EU will have to take leadership. But that is another story.

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Comentarii (1)

  1. cancerigen spune:

    Goebbels, principalul propagandist al nazismului a lasat o mostenire istorica ca resista trecerea timpului mai mult decit mumiile egiptiene. Goebels zicea: ” minte, minte pina cind minciuna o sa prinda”
    Cel mai „faithful” admiratori din lumea a lui Goebels este Guvernul american. Altul este actualul Presedinte a Bancii Comunitare Europene- BCE, Junker, cine a zis, in public si fara sa sclipeze, ca: ” Cind o situatia e foarte complicata, TREBUIE SA MINTI.
    Bine cazul Rusia- Ucraina sau Grecia- UE sint exemple antologice de complexitatea. Acesta, si numai acesta, ar explica de ce toti membriii EU mint si mint fara rusine in legatura cu Grecia cit si in legatura cu „issue” Rusia- Ucraina.

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It’s Time to Turn the Tables on Russia

Autor: Rusty Brooks | Categoria: Politică

There is a great deal of analysis and positing of Russia’s nest steps in Ukraine. There is no shortage of experts willing and able to offer their perspectives regarding what “new” hybrid warfare response the Russians will roll out to continue to hamstring and embarrass the West and how those “new” responses will continue to destabilize Ukraine and threaten countries in the region. It is also interesting, and disturbing, to watch the news on Iran and try to make sense of what the outcomes of the current negotiations on Iranian nuclear ambitions will provide as results.

The US Congress threatens to overturn the negotiated Iranian settlement before it even takes effect. Israel describes the proposed settlement as a direct threat to Israeli security and to regional security. No one seems to make a strong case for why the current proposed settlement is in anyone’s best interests, especially all those who see Iran as a terroristic country and with ulterior motives primarily focused on using any means possible to eliminate damaging economic and trade sanctions. However, there is one positive result that could emerge from the settlement of Iranian nuclear ambitions that could help the EU, reduce Russia’s ability to meddle in regional affairs, and significantly accelerate Russian economic problems and thereby Russian ability to fund “hybrid warfare” in the region.

According to the Iran Petroleum Ministry, the proved natural gas reserves of Iran are about 1,046 trillion cubic feet (29.6 trillion cubic meters) or about 15.8% of world’s total reserves, of which 33% are as associated gas and 67% is in non-associated gas fields. This ranks Iran as second only to Russia in proven gas reserves. If the EU is looking for alternatives to Russian gas, Iran is more than capable of providing another supply source.
The major concerns are how to deliver the gas to the EU and what are regional political implications of Iran supplanting Russia as the major provider of gas for Europe. Yes, there are additional significant concerns of how Iran would spend the money it receives from gas sales and if money would be diverted to investing in centrifuges and regional terror activities. But the current threat from Russian sabre rattling on EU’s borders requires a hard look at the political cost-benefits of the Iranian settlement and how to develop and maintain oversight and inspection programs in Iran that insure adherence to the settlements broad goals.

If a major concern with the proposed Iranian settlement is that it throws Israel to the wolves then that is a false and intentionally jingoistic statement. There is no way that the US, or any of Israel’s serious allies, are going to abandon Israel or intentionally propose a settlement that endangers Israel or regional security. If the US has learned anything in Iraq it is that creating stability in the guise of regime change is a false promise in this region. What happened with the US invasion of Iraq was the very outcome we didn’t need. An emboldened and empowered Iran who had no neighbor to keep it in check. Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, it is better to have a despot you can keep in check than all out civil war (and the outcomes it can generate, e.g., ISIS) you cannot control.

There is no way that Iran, even with its factions, will break up into the destructive sectarian and clan divisions that we see in Iraq or Syria. If the US or Israel or any regional enemy of Iran threatens the Iranian state you will see a quick closing of ranks and a very serious unified response to the threat. Merely using targeted airstrikes and Special Forces operations will not work in Iran. Any attack on Iran will result in a full scale war in the region and the resulting fighting would quickly grow into a large scale nuclear and terroristic war no one wants or needs.

What must happen is that the current negotiations about Iranian nuclear ambitions be allowed to proceed and that the best possible outcomes be designed. It is for certain that no previous negotiations have gotten as far as the current negotiations. Given that we are this close, there should be every effort possible expended to finish the job and structure a settlement that can be effectively implemented. Will everyone get what they want, no, but that should not be a reason to give up and revert back to the status quo which is an increasingly tenuous status as best.

The Russian threat to Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and to its other NATO and EU neighbors, makes the need for an Iranian settlement all the more important. There are rumors that Russia is even provoking the Azeri’s to help keep the Armenians in the Russian sphere. For the first time in a long time, Armenians are looking at where their future political and economic opportunities are best presented. Imagine a settlement that opens the Iranian economy to the region. One neighbor sure to benefit is Armenia. Armenia’s economy would experience significant growth with the reopening of Iran’s economy. If the settlement provided an opportunity to move Iranian energy resources quickly to Europe, the route through Armenia to pipelines in Georgia is the quickest and best route. Moving Armenia towards a growth economy and to being part of a regional economy that includes Iran and Georgia will do a great deal towards moving Armenia towards a European perspective and out of the Russian sphere.

Georgia is a country who is directly threatened by Russian ambitions. Russian presence both in conventional and “little green men” is for sure in both Ossetia and Abkhazia and most likely Russian ambitions are brewing in Samtskhe-Javakheti along the Armenian border. If Russia is not put in check, Georgia could effectively be cut into two pieces, divided along a line basically north-south through Gori. The more serious question for Georgia, much like another target for Russian ambition in Moldova, is who will come to the rescue if Russia does intervene militarily or with hybrid warfare? If Ukraine provides the answer, then no one. However, if the Iranian settlement is achieved and Iran’s energy resources were to flow through Armenia and Georgia, then regional economic development could be a positive countermeasure to Russian influence and meddling.
One additional point to make regarding redirecting Iranian energy resources through Armenia and Georgia and how this could impact Romania. If the pipelines through Turkey would not be made available to Armenian transited Iranian gas due to the current Armenia-Turkey border situation, then another option would be to consider shipping gas from Batumi to Constanta via rail ferry. This has been a much bandied about plan but a positive settlement in Iran could open this option up again to serious economic consideration.

The bottom line is that any positive Iranian settlement opens up the Iran energy market to Europe. Iranian gas would supplant Russian gas which further hamstrings the Russian economy. Given that energy is the primary driver of the Russian economy, further blows to growth in the Russian energy sector limits the resources available to supply Russian expansionism in the region. At some point, probably only driven by serious economic pain, will Russia loosen the screws on Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, along with other EU and NATO neighbors. Then there must be serious discussions with Russia about addressing their regional concerns and providing them with measures and policies that dissuade them from their current meddlesome and destructive undertakings. Here the EU will have to take leadership. But that is another story.




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