have news for you: The NATO-crats are already deeply
involved in the Azerbaijan-Armenian conflict. The six-year
war in which the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh essentially
won their independence from the Azeris ended in a cease-fire
negotiated by the Council of Europe (OSCE), and a special
working group called the Minsk group was created to settle
disputes and oversee the shaky peace. But while everyone was
busy negotiating the fate of Kosovo, the Armenian-Azeri cease-fire
broke down. With the Azeris getting the worst of it, and calling
for NATO intervention, the opportunity for a truly rich prize
presents itself. Now that the Minsk group negotiations have
broken down, will the OSCE pass the ball to NATO?
is yet another one of those ethnic feuds, with a long and
bloody history, that has erupted since the breakup of the
former Soviet Union. The primarily Armenian area of Azerbaijan
known as Nagorno-Karabakh has long sought unity with Armenia
proper, but Azeri Maximum Leader Aliyev, the mini-Stalin of
Central Asia, is not about to give up an inch of territory.
A Stalinist holdover from the Soviet era, Aliyev is sitting
on top of one of the world's biggest oil reserves. He has
been taking bids for franchises from the world's oil giants,
and the race is on for economic concessions. The breakup of
the Soviet Union left a rich prize for the taking in Baku
(the Azeri capital). NATO military intervention dressed up
in the snow-white garments of "humanitarianism"
could solve the problem of the division of the spoils.
THE VICTOR GOES . . .
a large extent, however, the spoils are already divided. In
1994, the government of Azerbaijan announced that a contract
had been signed with a consortium of oil companies. As Aliyev
put it in a speech to the Harriman Institute in New York a
couple of years ago, "In many cases it is referred to
as the Contract of Century," and this is no exaggeration.
The world's biggest oil companies, and their attendant investment
bankers, stand to make hundreds of billions of dollars. Amoco,
Pennzoil, Unocal, McDermott, BP (Britain), Statoil (Norway),
Lukoil (Russia), and also the Turks and Saudis, are all in
on the deal. On August 1, 1997,Vice President Al Gore and
Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev hosted a ceremony at the
White House, announcing "an intergovernmental energy
dialogue" at which representatives of three U.S. energy
companies Chevron, Exxon, and Mobil and the
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) signed contracts for
energy development in Azerbaijan. Chevron is slated to start
drilling in the Tagiyev region of the southern Caspian Sea
at the end of the year.
more than money is at stake here. Azerbaijan is at the geographical
epicenter of the world crisis. Here, in the lands surrounding
the Caspian Sea, virtually all the forces that have been loosened
in the post-Soviet era intersect and threaten to collide:
Islamic fundamentalism, Orthodox Christianity, ethnic separatism,
nationalism, Russian revanchism, and NATO-cratic expansionism
all come into play at this crossroads of the world.
To the North is Russia, to the west Armenia, to the northwest
the Georgian Republic, to the southwest Turkey, and to the
south the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a rough neighborhood
like this, Azerbaijan which never was a nation, but
only an administrative unit of the Soviet Union was
certain to become a battlefield. It is now an open question
as to whether NATO troops will one day patrol Baku just as
they are now patrolling Pristina.
there any doubt which side the "peacekeepers" deployed
to the region will take? Armenia is Christian, has no oil,
and is a thorn in the side of our NATO ally Turkey. Azerbaijan
is doling out billions in contracts to Al Gore's campaign
contributors. Case closed.
US State Department's tilt toward Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh
issue was expressed, albeit rather obliquely, in a recent
statement: "Armenia's observance of international law
and obligations and OSCE commitments in this respect has been
marred by the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Karabakh
Armenians, supported by the Republic of Armenia, now hold
about one fifth of Azerbaijan and have refused to withdraw
from occupied territories until an agreement on the status
of Nagorno-Karabakh is reached." But Azerbaijan is a
Soviet fiction, created by Stalin who fixed its border to
keep the Armenians down and the Azeris fully occupied. But
the idea that the borders of the phony Soviet "republics"
are permanent, and represent anything even approximating justice,
is absurd. Yet this is the position the US government has
taken in the past, and continues to take even in Kosovo,
where at least officially the position is that the United
States does not support Kosovo's independence and supports
only "autonomy." This is an oddly formalistic position
that begins to make sense, however, only in the context of
from accusations that Armenia "discriminates" against
"non-apostolic churches," US officials don't like
President Ter-Petrosyan, who rose to prominence and power
on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh's status, and whom they accuse
of sending aid to the Armenian separatists. Wagging its finger
at laws forbidding religious proselytizing by non-Christian
Orthodox groups, the State Department also complains about
"paramilitary gangs" interfering with religious
liberty and instigating ethnic cleansing. Where oh where have
we heard all this before?
KING TO THE RESCUE
spite of the often sharp tone taken by this State Department
toward Armenia, however, Ter-Petrosyan's government is eligible
for foreign assistance from the US Azerbaijan, being less
than a model of democracy, is not: but don't worry, Rep. Peter
King (R-NY) is out to fix that, with a bill repealing Section
907 of the Freedom Support Act, which lists Azerbaijan as
among those countries ineligible for foreign aid. And Section
907 doesn't cover subsidies from the Export-Import Bank to
US companies investing in Azerbaijan.
Website of the Republic of Azerbaijan gives us a snapshot
of what it must be like to live in that poverty-stricken hellhole
on the edge of Nowhere. The site is not Azerbaijan.org, or
Azeri.com, but http://www.president.az/!
This, we are told, is the "official home page of the
Office of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan"
not the nation but its President. In Azerbaijan, however,
these two entities are inseparable: images of Aliyev are everywhere
billboards, railroad stations, storefronts, and cafes.
His Website proudly displays his monolithic marble monstrosity
of a palace: the peculiar architectural style of this structure,
a kind of Socialist Realist monumentalism adorned with minarets
and Arabesque curves, symbolizes perfectly the style and spirit
of the Aliyev regime.
IS FOR THE BYRDS
site is a sight to behold, especially the chapter titles of
his official biography, which must have been written by some
Western public relations flack, an aging baby boomer who used
to march against the Vietnam war and smoke dope and now writes
apologias for Central Asian dictators:
I. "A Time To Collect Stones"
II. "A Time To Be Born"
III. "A Time To Build"
IV. "A Time To Be Silent"
V. "A Time To Search And A Time To Lose"
VI. "A Time For War And A Time For Peace"
VII. "A Time To Plant"
next chapter in the life of President Aliyev has yet to be
written, but the title practically writes itself: "A
Time to Collect."
ARE YOU READY FOR MORE REFUGEES?
know we are all suffering from what Tony Blair bemoaned as
"refugee fatigue," but are you ready for the latest
refugee "crisis" tens of thousands of Azeris
fleeing from Nagorno-Karabakh? How long before Christiane
Amanpour discovers the plight of her Muslim brothers and sisters
in Azerbaijan, and comes swooping down into Baku on her electronic
carpet (or is that broomstick)? With the cameras rolling,
and yet another refugee convoy bringing news of fresh "atrocities"
committed by the evil Armenians, the stage is set for Operation
Allied Force, Act II. Never mind that the Armenians are fighting
for the same principle supposedly animating the Kosovo Liberation
Army, the right to national self-determination: the Armenians,
you see, are Christians, and thus have no rights.
his 1997 trip to the United States, President Aliyev noted
the favorable stance taken by the US toward his country's
claims to Nagorno-Karabakh, and praised the OSCE, "along
with close participation in this work from the leadership
of the USA, President Bill Clinton, who is also very interested
in settlement of the conflict." The two presidents signed
a Joint Statement reinforcing the United States' and Azerbaijan's
commitment "to expand our partnership, promote regional
peace, and help Azerbaijan play its rightful role in Europe's
new security." But wait a minute: what is Azerbaijan's
"rightful role" in Europe's security arrangements?
We all know that the US government is deficient in the map
department, but this is getting ridiculous: Azerbaijan isn't
even in Europe.
AND THE CONCERT OF EUROPE
but Europe is in Azerbaijan, economically speaking,
and so is the United States and the planning for troop
deployments is already in an advanced stage. In May of 1997,
the US and Azerbaijan announced that "the United States
and Azerbaijan affirm their joint understanding that . . .
a state's military forces should be deployed on the territory
of another state only with the freely expressed consent of
the host country." You don't have to be a conspiracy
theorist to suspect that something is up: why else stipulate
the conditions of troop deployments unless they seem likely
Furthermore: "The United
States acknowledges the absence of foreign military bases
on the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic and supports the
position taken by Azerbaijan that the temporary presence of
foreign troops on its territory may be based only on a duly
concluded agreement with Azerbaijan according to its constitution
and in conformity with international law." In other words,
here come the "peacekeepers" whose presence
is likely to be as "temporary" as K-For's stay in
the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh broke out with renewed vigor,
the Minsk group negotiations were focused on creating the
conditions for deploying a multinational OSCE peacekeeping
force to the region as part of a broader political settlement.
But if the fighting continues much longer, the instability
will sour the Western investment and provoke a real
response from the West. Remember the recent NATO 50th Anniversary
"Celebration"? It was there that Mad Madeleine unveiled
her latest project: NATO will now abandon its original charter
as the shield of Europe and expand its purview to include
the entire globe. It is anybody's guess where the next stop
on the New World Order Express will turn out to be, but if
I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Azerbaijan
along with Amoco, Mobil, Exxon, and the rest.