Friday, October 17, 2008

Georgian terrorists, gas in Turkmenistan, and Putin's next power grab

In reading a headline like "Georgian Threat to Moscow Uncovered" in the state-owned Russian newspaper Izvestia, I'm startled, but not for the reasons that the FSB office that "leaked" the intelligence probably wanted. The Izvestia article reports that they received leaked communication from within the Russian government indicating that they foiled a plot by the Georgian government, disguised as Islamic terrorists, to blow up buildings in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sochi, and gun people down in at least Moscow.

As Stratfor notes, this is highly dubious for a number of reasons. For one, Georgia has never attacked outside of its own country, with the exception of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Secondly, Muslims make up a small percentage of Georgia's population, and they are mostly pro-Russian.

But then there's the big one that Stratfor doesn't note: Russia has recently been given a huge incentive to cause trouble in or attack Georgia, in the form of the recent confirmation of the Caspian Sea's natural gas riches. Energy delivery, especially to Europe, and especially in the form of natural gas, is the biggest trump card that Russia has over the West. But with the confirmation of gas in Turkmenistan, the EU has also hyped expectations of connecting Europe to the Caspian region via the Caucasus. The Caucasus stand in the way of Russia's ambitions, quite literally: besides through Russia, there are only two ways to get a pipeline to Europe (i.e., Turkey or Israel): through Iran, or through the independent countries in the south Caucasus. Iran is out of the question thanks to Russia's measured support of Iran's controversial activities. And in the Caucasus, you only need two out of three to create an impenetrable bloc between the Russian north Caucasus and Iran. Russia has already cowered Armenia into not allowing Western pipelines, and with Georgia out of commission thanks to this "leaked" intelligence (or something like it), it would render Azerbaijan irrelevant.

But perhaps the most startling part of all of this is that Russia may not be bluffing: it wouldn't be the first time that they used false flag apartment bombings under the guise of Islamic terrorism as an excuse to invade a Caucasian republic. The last time they did it was in 1999: Russia's equivalent of 9/11, the apartment bombings in Buynaksk, Moscow, and Volgodonsk, and the failed attack in Ryazan that blew the FSB's cover. The Russian secret services orchestrated the attacks as an excuse to invade Chechnya, and invade they did: tens of thousands of Chechen civilians died in the Second Chechen War, and war crimes abounded. In 1999, the false flag attacks led to the invasion of Chechnya in order for the FSB and Putin to effect a virtual coup d'état in the midst of a huge national crisis. Putin was introduced to Russia, Russia loved him, and he became Russia's unelected president a few months later. If in 2008, false flag attacks (or the threat thereof) lead to the invasion of Georgia, it will be to cement control of the Caspian, in order to cement Putin's power in preparation for new power grabs.

No comments: