The Truth Of Iraq’s City Of Deformed Babies

[In our fear, we authorized the use of nightmare weapons upon this generation of Iraqis and Afghanis, neither knowing nor caring what the result of raining pulverized (low-level) uranium into the life-giving air being breathed by both the guilty and the innocent alike.  In our worship of military power, we rejoiced in our capacity to kill and destroy.

Are we still rejoicing?  Has our fear for our very lives been replaced by a fear of the loss of our own humanity?]

The Truth Of Iraq’s City Of Deformed Babies

Sky News

33-truth-iraq-s-city-deformed-babies.jpg

September 1, 2009

An Iraqi doctor has told Sky News the number of babies born with deformities in the heavily-bombed area of Fallujah is still on the increase.

Fifteen months ago a Sky News investigation revealed growing numbers of children being born with defects in Fallujah.

Concerns were that the rise in deformities may have been linked to the use of chemical weapons by US forces.

We recently returned to find out the current situation and what has happened to some of the children we featured.

In May last year we told the story of a three-year-old girl called Fatima Ahmed who was born with two heads.

When we filmed her she seemed like a listless bundle – she lay there barely able to breathe and unable to move.

Even now and having seen the pictures many times since I still feel shocked and saddened when I look at her.

But the prognosis for Fatima never looked good and, as feared, she never made it to her fourth birthday.

Her mother Shukriya told us about the night her daughter died.

Wiping away her tears, Shukriya said she had put her daughter to bed as normal one night but woke with the dreadful sense that something was wrong.

She told us she felt it was her daughter’s moment to die, but of course that does not make the pain any easier.

Fatima’s father had taken his little girl’s hand but it was cold.

“She is gone,” he had said to his distraught wife.

Another girl we met last year was Tiba Aftan who was born with a huge growth across her face.

Now she is a toddler her future is looking brighter having gone to neighbouring Jordan to have it removed.

The growth had covered half of Tiba’s forehead and was invading one of her eyes – and it was getting bigger as she got older.

Although the operation was a success Tiba will need more surgery and the last trip cost her family almost every penny they have.

But since our original investigation, we have built up a new dossier of cases of deformed children in Fallujah born in the last eight months.

There are a wide range of problems – from abnormalities of the abdomen to facial disfigurements.

We have also seen pictures of all kinds of deformed foetuses which have not survived.

There is no precise explanation as to what has caused the deformities and there are no figures to compare cases with those a decade or more ago as records were not kept during the time of Saddam Hussein.

All of our evidence is anecdotal, but repeatedly people tell us they believe the deformities must be linked to the heavy bombardment of Fallujah – a Sunni insurgent stronghold – by America in 2004.

People want an independent investigation into the impact of the kinds of weapons used – including controversial white phosphorus.

Yet even since we first started to give a voice to the calls for help from the people of Fallujah things seem to have got worse.

Dr Ahmed Uraibi, a specialist paediatrician in Fallujah, told us that the number of deformities he has dealt with has increased in the last year.

The people of Fallujah want to know how many more deformed babies there will be before someone sits up and takes notice of them.

Iran nuclear threat ‘hyped': ElBaradei

Iran nuclear threat ‘hyped': ElBaradei

WASHINGTON: Mohamed ElBaradei, the outgoing head of the UN atomic watchdog, called the threat from Iran “hyped” and said there was no evidence that the Islamic republic will soon have nuclear weapons.

In an interview released Tuesday, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hit back at critics who accuse the Egyptian of covering up Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“In many ways, I think the threat has been hyped,” ElBaradei told the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a Chicago-based magazine critical of nuclear weapons. “Yes, there’s concern about Iran’s future intentions and Iran needs to be more transparent with the IAEA and international community,” he said.

“But the idea that we’ll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn’t supported by the facts as we have seen them so far,” he said.

In a report last week, the IAEA said that Iran had slowed production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make a nuclear bomb, and agreed to tighter monitoring of its enrichment plant.

The United States downplayed the report, saying that Iran was still not cooperating fully with the UN inspectors.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said that the IAEA report did not include a classified annex incriminating Iran. Israel has long been critical of ElBaradei and asked in 2007 that he be fired.

ElBaradei, who along with the IAEA as an institution won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, rejected the criticism.

“About Iran, I’ve been told, ‘Mind your own business; you’re a technician.’ And yet, at other times, on other matters, I have been told that I’m the custodian of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — sometimes by the very people who tell me to mind my own business when it comes to Iran,” he said.

“I don’t put much stock in either designation. I’m neither a custodian nor a technician; I’m merely someone who is trying to do his job,” he said.

ElBaradei steps down at the end of November, handing over to Yukiya Amano, a veteran Japanese diplomat.

Obama – The Choice Of Military And Political Suicide

Obama – The Choice Of Military
And Political Suicide

By William Pfaff
8-31-9
PARIS -­ The Nation magazine’s Robert Dreyfuss has just published a fascinating account of Washington establishment opinion about the war in Afghanistan.
The four speakers at a Brookings Institution discussion were Bruce Riedel, advisor to the President (and believer in the catastrophic international consequences of a loss of the war in Afghanistan); Michael O’Hanlon, an adviser to General David Petraeus; Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Kim Kagan, head of the Institute for the Study of War.
The unanimous gloom expressed by these four speakers, and the apparent absence of any sunlight shining from the attending (and largely professional-political) audience, seems clear confirmation that Barack Obama and his chosen advisors have wasted no time in placing themselves and the country — in a mere five months! — into the same desperate situation that it took the combined Johnson and Nixon administrations ten years to arrive at in the case of Vietnam. This view would seem widely shared today — without visible influence on Obama policy.
This is scarcely believable. Dreyfuss summarizes the speakers’ shared views: 1. “Significant escalation” is essential “to avoid utter defeat.” 2. If “tens of thousands” of new troops were sent to Afghanistan, it would be impossible to know whether this reinforcement changed anything until another eighteen months had elapsed. 3. Even if the U.S. “turns the tide,” no American troops could be withdrawn before at least another five years.
However the most dramatic unanimous opinion of the four experts was this one: “there is no alternative to victory.”
Where have we heard that before? From Douglas MacArthur, speaking to Congress on April 19, 1951, almost six months to a day after his combined U.S., R.O.K. and UN army’s drive to the Yalu river was defeated by China’s intervention in the Korean war. The Communists’ complete reconquest of North Korea followed.
Two months after MacArthur spoke, the United States renounced the military objective of reunifying Korea and expressed interest in an armistice roughly along the 38th parallel, the prewar border. That was the alternative to American victory.
In Vietnam, the alternative to victory was the 1973 subterfuge of “Vietnamization” of the war, with withdrawal of the last American troops in March of that year. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975.
Why is there no alternative to American victory in what the president calls “AfPak”?
When President Obama took office he might have said that the Bush administration had made a dreadful mess of Afghanistan, but that he was resolved to save America, NATO and Afghanistan itself, from this Bush-era folly. He intended to put the U.S. on a new track towards peace and reconciliation with the forty million Pashtuns of Central Asia — who provide the potential recruiting pool for the angry young men of the Taliban.
He could also have said that it makes no real difference to the United States whether the Taliban do or do not rule Afghanistan, or whether Osama bin Laden is or is not in that country. Afghanistan is on the other side of the world, surrounded by tough people who can look after themselves. Terrorists do not need “safe havens” in Afghanistan. The world is full of empty “safe havens.” The terrorists are being defeated by policemen and security forces in all of the western countries, while Osama bin Laden releases largely ignored videos to Arab television.
The people of Afghanistan have themselves defended their country against all foreign interference since the time of Alexander the Great. It wasn’t the U.S. or NATO that defended them. They did it themselves ­ as an energetic minority of them are doing now — but, unhappily, against U.S. and NATO interference in their country.
The Afghans have already experienced Taliban rule, from 1996 until the U.S. invasion in 2001. A great many of them did not like it. If they don’t want the Taliban, with their obscurantism, oppression of women, and brutal interpretations of Islamic law, to come back again and install their despotic rule, let the Afghan people defend themselves. The U.S./NATO intervention simply gets in the way. As a foreigners’ invasion, it is objectively a source of support for the Taliban.
Instead of reading ecology and novels on his vacation, the president should read Charles DeGaulle. He ended the dreadful insurrection in Algeria that brought him back to power in France in 1958. And Algeria was legally a part of France itself, possessing energy resources that could have made France energy self-sufficient, and it had a large colonial population that wanted Algeria forever French.
So did a part of the French army. A conspiracy of officers tried to assassinate DeGaulle and overthrow his government. This wasn’t a puerile problem of armed bullies shouting abuse at congressmen.
DeGaulle ordered peace negotiations, stopped the war, brought the colonists and the army home, and turned to rebuilding France after its generations of crisis.
Please, President Obama: take a lesson in success. Don’t kill tens, or hundreds, of thousands more people in still another search for a useless American victory that ends in defeat — and ruins your presidency.
© Copyright 2009 by Tribune Media Services International. All Rights Reserved.

Turkmenistan Gas Pipeline Explosion – The Larger Context

Turkmenistan Gas Pipeline Explosion – The Larger Context

on 11 April, 2009 13:35:00 | 1429 times read Adjust font size:

nCa Analysis

Ashgabat, 11 April 2009 (nCa) — It is both sad and funny how a rupture in a single pipeline has exposed the weakness and vulnerability of the Russian economy and its heavy dependence on natural gas supplies from Turkmenistan.

A new dimension of the composite challenge of energy security for producers and end users has also come to surface.

At 0130 am on 9 Apr, an explosion occurred in CAC-4 pipeline, reducing the Turkmen gas supplies to Russia by almost 90%. CAC-4 is one of the five main trunks that constitute the Central Asia-Centre pipeline network for transportation of Central Asian gas to Russia and onward to Europe.

The cause of the accident and the way Russia handled it are a source of concern for everyone, especially the consumers in Europe.

Turkmenistan is working on repairs. Supplies would resume soon but hard questions would remain; questions that Russia must answer with full honesty.

The relations between Russia and Turkmenistan will not suffer any permanent damage because of the unpleasantness caused by this accident because broad-based bilateral relations cannot be hostage to a single incident.

Turkmenistan has explained that the explosion occurred because of insufficient notice given by GazpromExport for sharp reduction in gas volumes it buys from Turkmenistan. GazpromExport is the Gazprom subsidiary that handles purchase of Turkmen gas.

GazpromExport informed in the evening of 7 Apr about its intentions to cut down the volumes it receives from Turkmenistan. On 8 Apr at 11 am, in less than 12 hours after giving the notice, the GazpromExport had already decreased its intake from Turkmenistan to a bare trickle.

In another 14 hours or so, while Turkmenistan was scrambling to respond to the situation suddenly created by GazpromExport, tremendous pressure built in the pipeline because the tap was almost shut at the export exit point, and a main pipe burst open between the compressor stations Ilyaly and Deryalyk compressor stations on 487th kilometer of the Daulatabat-Deryalyk pipeline.

In order to understand the significance of such a short notice, and why it led to the accident, we need to bear in mind certain facts:

  • In a large caliber, medium pressure, pipeline such as CAC-4, the natural gas travels at 30 kilometers per hours during the peak season. The speed is less when less volume is being pumped; reduction in speed is proportional to reduction in volumes being sent through the pipe. The peak season is from November to March. Gas flow is rather slow from April to October.
  • Natural gas is a gas after all – its molecules are not as strongly attracted to each other as in liquids and solids. That is why so many compressors and boosters are required to keep the gas flowing through a long pipeline. It is not possible to stop the flow of gas by turning off a single tap.
  • Natural gas is buried several thousand meters under ground and comes out from the wells with considerable pressure. The flow in the pipeline cannot be reduced without first reducing the input from the wells that are feeding it.
  • Large diameter pipelines cannot be fed by a single well. There are dozens of wells giving their combined output through a complex system of pipes and compressors to feed a main trunk.

Looking at these factors one can clearly see that less than 12 hours of notice was inadequate for taking proper action because: 1. The gas fed into the trunk from Daulatabat a day before receiving the notice was still traveling in the territory of Turkmenistan; 2. The adjustment in well output at Daulatabat takes 24 to 36 hours to register at Deryalyk metering station; and 3. Drastic reduction in outflow at Deryalyk without appropriate adjustments in the entire system was bound to create one or more pressure points for the pipeline to burst.

Under ordinary circumstances, Turkmenistan would have taken this irresponsible act of GazpromExport gracefully and restored the system without making any fuss.

However, the way Gazprom preferred to handle it, shifting the blame to Turkmen side publicly, and the grey noise immediately created by the Russian analysts and media were absolutely baseless and out of context. There is probably something more out there than meets the eye

And, that has compelled us to scrutinize closely the motives of the Russian side.

In order to construct a set of possible scenarios, we shall pose some questions and try to answer them:

Was it negligence?

Such a short notice by GazpromExport cannot be dismissed as mere negligence. A company that handles several hundreds million dollars of business every day has no room for negligence. In fact, the internal discipline of Gazprom hardly allows any chance for negligence.

Was it professional incompetence?

Together with negligence, incompetence is also not a possible reason for this lapse. Gazprom has the largest pool of gas experts in the world and there is no reason to assume that none of them could foresee the consequences of drastically reducing the intake from Turkmenistan at such a short notice.

Was it irresponsibility?

Was it irresponsibility, not by Gazprom as an institution but by some employees of Gazprom?

This may or may not be the case. In case it was, it reflects poorly on Gazprom’s ability to meet steadily the obligations toward its clients in Europe.

Following the proper procedures is an integral part of the commitment to maintain energy security.

One can imagine the consequences for European consumers if this thing had happened in the middle of a severe winter.

Was it an emergency situation?

There is no way to justify a short notice like this as the consequence of an emergency situation.

Agreeably, European demand of gas has dropped considerably during the past few weeks. It is not a sudden drop and Gazprom knew in advance about it. Therefore, diminished demand in Europe cannot be cited as a reason for suddenly cutting down imports from Turkmenistan.

Similarly, the pipeline blast that took place in Moldova on 1 Apr leading to reduction of Gazprom supplies to Balkan by 40% can not be presented as an emergency situation. The blast occurred on 1 Apr, and if Gazprom was going to reduce intake from Turkmenistan to adjust for crippled capacity for exports, there was ample time to give fair notice to Turkmenistan.

Was it fear? Was it anger?

Turkmenistan recently announced plans to build East-West pipeline that will be about 800-100 kilometers in length, connecting all the major gas fields of the country to a single network. This will allow for feeding multiple pipelines without being dependent on a single field or cluster.

Was it Gazprom’s fear that the East-West pipeline will brighten the chances for Nabucco? Was it anger at Turkmenistan’s attempt to make room for multiple export routes?

Even though there is no evidence to support this assumption, the overall record of Gazprom and Russia suggests that it is a possibility that cannot be dismissed easily.

Was it a warning shot?

Was the insufficient warning that was bound to cause a serious accident, a warning shot for Turkmenistan?

Quite possibly, this may have been a way by Gazprom to tell Turkmenistan that it should look no farther than Russia for export of its gas, or else.

Was it an attempt to mask Russia’s inability to pay for gas?

The fact that Russia has been hit hard by the current financial and economic crisis is not a secret.

Russia’s ability to meet weekly timetable for payments of Turkmen gas is questionable.

Demand of gas in Ukraine and Europe has fallen dramatically and Russian gas storage facilities are already full to the brim with surplus gas. Gazprom admitted a few days ago that the crisis will force Gazprom to maintain 10% cut in output over the next 4-5 years from its peak last year. The overall output of Gazprom this year would be 492 bcm (billion cubic meters) this year, compared to 550 bcm in 2008; this is more than 10% decrease.

It means that in order to maintain its liquidity, Gazprom will first sell its own gas to Europe and provide only the leftover capacity in the pipes for Central Asian gas. However, that leftover capacity would be of little use as more European demands could be met through Gazprom’s own production.

Russia is probably unable to pay for the entire contracted volumes of Central Asian gas and causing an accident in the system of the main provider could be a convenient way to get rid of its obligations as a buyer.

Was it a deliberate attempt to halt supplies without facing contractual consequences?

There is a ‘pay or use’ clause in the contract, binding Gazprom to draw contracted volumes from CAC. In case it defaults on this commitment, it must pay for the unused capacity of the pipe. However, if the system is down for repairs, this clause could perhaps be subject to legal interpretations.

The contract also stipulates that payments must be made very week for the gas that leaves Deryalyk metering station. Non-supply for gas supplies because of technical problems could give Russia an excuse for not receiving the volumes for several weeks, and consequently not making any payments for the blank period.

The contract says that at least one week’s notice must be given for change in volumes. There is no escape from this clause except in genuine emergencies.

Was it an attempt to transfer some of the effects of financial crisis to Turkmenistan?

Russia is in the grip of the financial crisis more than it is willing to admit. Putin said during a recent cabinet meeting that we should consider putting automatic lamps and lights in government buildings that should switch off when no one is in the room. It may be a small matter but it shows the severity of crisis for Russia.

On the other hand, Turkmenistan remains unaffected by global unraveling of economic and financial systems. If the accident in the pipeline was deliberately engineered, it may have been a way of transferring some of the financial crisis to Turkmenistan, to pull Turkmenistan into the ‘club.’

Conclusion

Gone are the days of Rem Vyakhrev when Gazprom could abruptly refuse to buy Turkmen gas, and brag about it.

Turkmenistan is obliged under a long-term contract signed in May 2003 to supply certain volumes to Russia; Russia is obliged to purchase those volumes under the same contract. The obligation is mutual and binding.

Trying to deflect the blame to the infrastructure of Turkmenistan is meaningless. Compressor station for compressor station, kilometer for kilometer of pipeline, and processing facility for processing facility, Turkmenistan has spent, in comparative terms of GDP, more than any other CIS country including Russia to upgrade and modernize its entire gas extraction, processing and transportation system.

Since negligence and incompetence for giving such a short notice are not conceivable we are left with only two options: Either it was an act of irresponsibility or it was a deliberate attempt to halt Turkmen supplies temporarily.

If it was an act of irresponsibility, what was the size of that irresponsibility? Had it happened in the middle of winter, millions of citizens in more than a dozen of countries would have been affected directly. When the temperatures are in double digits below zero, it is not merely a matter of comfort; it is the question of life and death for many.

If the short notice was given with exactly this kind of outcome in mind, it puts into question Gazprom’s commitment to its consumers and its integrity as a partner.

The Golden Rule that has remained unaltered since the dawn of time is: Do to others as you wish others do to you.

A more diplomatic version of this rule is: Equality and mutual respect.

Russia is a key player in the global energy equation.

For the foreseeable future Gazprom will remain the chief supplier of natural gas to Europe.

These are undeniable facts and no one is happy about the financial woes of either Russia or Gazprom.

As a matter of fact, the countries and entities linked to Gazprom through the supply and demand chain are more than willing to lend a helping hand in these hard times.

What is equally visible is that Gazprom is heavily dependent on Turkmen volumes to maintain its own liquidity. Had that not been the case, it would be openly asked for discontinuation of supplies for a few weeks. This fact should be considered together with Gazprom’s efforts to sign more supply contracts with European countries and Iran, its recent arrangements with BP and its breakthrough in entering the LNG market of the United States.

Gazprom also needs to understand that whatever little leverage it still has over gas exports of TurkmenistanChina pipeline comes into operation. and other Central Asian countries will evaporate by the end of this year when the

Basic Information on CAC Network

[The following information is copyright to ITAR-TASS]

Central Asia – Centre is a Gazprom controlled system of natural gas pipelines, which run from TurkmenistanUzbekistan and Kazakhstan to Russia. The eastern branch consists Central Asia – Centre (CAC) 1, 2, 4 and 5 pipelines, which start from the south-eastern gas fields of Turkmenistan. The western branch consists of the CAC-3 pipeline and a project to build a new parallel Caspian pipeline. The western branch runs from Turkmen Caspian Sea territories to the north. The branches meet in western Kazakhstan. From there the pipelines run north where they are connected to the Russian natural gas pipeline system. via

The system was built between 1960 and 1988. Construction began after discovery of the Dzharkak field, and the first section was completed in 1960. CAC-1 and 2 were commissioned in 1969 and CAC-4 was commissioned in 1973. In 1976, two parallel lines were laid between Shatlyk and Khiva. CAC-5 was commissioned in 1985 and in 1986-88, the Dauletabad-Khiva line was connected through a 1,420-mm pipeline. The western branch (CAC-3) was constructed in 1972-1975.

In 2003, the late President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov proposed to renovate existing systems and construct a new parallel pipeline to the western branch. On 12 May 2007, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan signed a memorandum for renovation and expansion of the western branch of the pipeline. On 20 December 2007, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan finalized an agreement on the construction of a new Caspian pipeline parallel to the existing CAC-3 pipeline (Bekdash-Europe pipeline).

Almost all Uzbek and Turkmen natural gas is delivered through the CAC pipeline system, mainly through the eastern branch due to location of production sites and poor technical condition of the western branch. CAC-1, 2, 4 and 5 pipelines are supplied from gas fields in the South-East of Turkmenistan, mainly from the Dauletabad gas field. The eastern branch starts from the Dauletabad field and continues through the Shatlyk gas field east of Tejen to Khiva, Uzbekistan. From there the pipeline system transports gas northwest along Amu Darya to the Kungrad compressor station in Uzbekistan. From Kungrad, most of the gas is carried via Kazakhstan to the Alexandrov Gai gas metering station in Russia. At Alexandrov Gai CAC pipelines meet with Soyuz and Orenburg-Novopskov pipelines. From there two lines run northwest to Moscow, and two others proceed across the Volga river to the North Caucasus-Moscow transmission system. The diameter of most pipelines varies between 1,020-1,420 mm. Current capacity of the system is 44 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year. An agreement is in place to increase capacity to 55 bcm per year by 2010 and through modernization there is potential to increase capacity to 90 bcm per year.

The western branch originates at Ekarem, near the Turkmen-Iranian border and runs north. It is supplied by gas from fields scattered along the Caspian coast between Okarem and Nebit Dag. It continues via Uzen in Kazakhstan to the Beyneu compressor station, where it meets the eastern branch of the CAC. South of Cheleken, the western system consists of 710 mm diameter pipeline, and between Cheleken and Beyneau 1,220 mm diameter pipeline.

On 20 December 2007, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan agreed to construct a new Caspian pipeline parallel to the existing CAC-3 pipeline. The pipeline will be built between Belek compressor station in Turkmenistan and Alexandrov Gai compressor station. The capacity of the new pipeline will be 20 bcm a year. The construction of the pipeline will start in the second half of 2009.

Pipeline Explosion Raises Tensions Between Turkmenistan, Russia

[Dual pipeline accidents level economic playing field for Gazprom.  SEE: Russian pipeline blasts in Moldova, gas supplies to Balkans suspended]

Pipeline Explosion Raises Tensions Between Turkmenistan, Russia

Berdymukhammedov and Medvedev. Are friendly relations on the way out?

April 14, 2009
By Bruce Pannier

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is calling for talks with Russia as part of efforts to repair a damaged natural-gas pipeline and, more importantly, damaged Turkmen-Russian relations after last week’s pipeline explosion.

Berdymukhammedov said he is prepared to call for an independent investigation into the cause of the April 9 explosion that struck the Central Asia-Tsentr-4 pipeline that connects Turkmenistan to Russia.

Turkmenistan’s immediate reaction was to blame Russia’s Gazprom for the blast, saying Gazprom’s subsidiary in Turkmenistan, Gazpromeksport, decreased the amount of gas it was drawing from the pipeline without informing Turkmen officials.

Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry called the action “reckless and irresponsible.”

Russian officials have remained diplomatic about the issue, leaving Russian media to take the lead in directing blame toward Turkmenistan.

On April 9, Anatoly Dmitrievsky, director of the Institute for Oil and Gas Issues at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, appeared on the Russian television program “Vesti.” In comments that were widely publicized by Russian print media, Dmitrievsky blamed Turkmenistan’s aging pipeline system for the blast, saying it was “built in the late 1960s and start of the 1970s, is rather worn and in need of repair and reconstruction.” Dmitrievsky said it could also have been the fault of Turkmen dispatchers monitoring the pipeline.

The Turkmen government website, turkmenistan.ru, responded to Dmitrievsky’s comments the following day, saying the Russian academic’s comments “did not correspondent to reality,” and rejected the academic’s comments as an “attempt to negatively portray the work of the dispatcher service of Turkmenistan.”

Standing Up To Moscow

Regardless of the cause of the blast, one thing appears clear: the fact that gas has stopped flowing between Turkmenistan and Russia seems to suit both sides.

Michael Laubsch, an expert on Central Asia and the head of the Bonn-based Eurasian Transition Group (ETG), says Turkmenistan may be sending a signal to the West by showing it is standing up to Moscow.

“At the moment one can definitely say that the relations between the two countries are a little bit troubled,” Laubsch said. “It’s a typical signal of the Turkmen government to play its pendular politics again, showing the West that it’s now a powerful nation and it also wants to struggle with the big Kremlin.”

There may be other reasons for the sudden fall-out between Turkmenistan and Russia. On April 6, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko expressed his dismay that Turkmenistan had not set a follow-up meeting with Russia after President Berdymukhammedov’s late March visit to Moscow. Turkmen and Russian media reported ahead of the visit that Berdymukhammedov and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were to sign a number of agreements, but at least one of those, construction of the East-West pipeline in Turkmenistan, was left for a later meeting. Shmatko said the Russian side was ready to sign the remaining agreements, but Turkmenistan had not communicated about any future meeting.

The Russian newspaper “Kommersant” reported on April 13 that Turkmenistan may now feel its position is strengthened since the pipeline explosion “could be a topic of speculation at a conference on the reliable and stable transit of energy pipelines” to be held in Ashgabat on April 23-24. “Kommersant” wrote that discussions on the pipeline explosion “could continue at a summit for the Nabuccco gas pipeline project…which will take place in Prague on May 7.”

The Russian daily “Vremya novostei” reported on April 14 that the pipeline rupture is actually good for Gazprom. It stated that Gazprom’s agreement last year with three Central Asian states to pay “European prices” for their gas now appears to have been a “mistake.” Gazprom made the deal with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan when the price of gas was rising to record highs; now the price is falling and, according to “Vremya novostei,” Gazprom “lost more than $1 billion purchasing gas in the first quarter” of 2009.

Gazprom Struggles

Falling prices are accompanied by declining purchases. Much of the Turkmen gas that Gazprom buys goes to Ukraine, but “Vremya novostei” reported that Ukraine’s state gas company Naftohaz bought only 2.6 billion cubic meters in the first quarter of 2009, paying only $940 million.

Demand further west in European Union countries is also declining, making it difficult for Gazprom to absorb the large amounts of gas it is contracted to buy from Central Asia.

President Berdymukhammedov again blamed Gazprom for the pipeline rupture.

“We see the Turkmen-Russian gas pipeline disorder as a result of external factors, not as a result of any internal disorders,” he said. “Why I am saying this? Because Russia’s Gazprom company disseminates false information in the Russian media saying the pipeline is worn out and [denying its own] technical errors.”

Berdymukhammedov ordered Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Gas Tachberdi Tagiyev to meet with Gazprom officials and outlined Turkmenistan’s next steps if talks with the Russian company fail.

“Unless Gazprom admits its faults, then we will invite independent experts to examine the causes of the blast,” Berdymukhammedov said. “If we are responsible for the disorder, then we will fix the damages. If Gazprom is responsible for the blast, then they have to pay for the repairs and compensate Turkmenistan for pipeline damages.”

On the day of the pipeline explosion, the Turkmen government said it would take two to three days to repair. But as the dispute with Russia and Gazprom drags on, and both sides wait for the other to accept blame, there are no reports that repair work is being done.

RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service contributed to this report

Turkmenistan plans Caspian naval base

Turkmenistan plans Caspian naval base

By Marat Gurt

ASHGABAT, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Turkmenistan announced plans on Monday to build a naval base on its Caspian Sea coast, an area at the centre of a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over oil and gas fields.

The dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan could jeopardise Turkmen plans to join the EU-sponsored Nabucco gas pipeline that bypasses Russia because gas from Turkmenistan would need to pass Azerbaijan to enter the pipeline.

“We are already buying military ships equipped with missiles,” President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said in televised remarks to the national security council. “Naval exercises should be held regularly”.

Turkmenistan, Central Asia’s biggest gas exporter, and Azerbaijan are at loggerheads over a number of large oil and gas blocks in the Caspian Sea.

Berdymukhamedov last month ordered his government to take the dispute to an international court.

Iran, another energy-rich Caspian state, has opposed dividing the sea into sectors, an approach favoured by ex-Soviet republics Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen leader made it clear however that the navy would not be used to settle such disputes and would instead protect his nation from external threats.

“We have no territorial claims,” he said. “There are international terrorist groups which, it should be said, would like to disturb the Turkmen people’s peaceful life.”

Berdymukhamedov did not specify how large the Turkmen navy would be but said it should be complete by 2015.

Turkmenistan has shown particular interest in joining Nabucco since April when Russia stopped buying Turkmen gas in a row over supply terms.

The row followed a pipeline explosion blamed by Ashgabat on a sudden cut in gas intake by Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research). Russia used to buy about 50 billion cubic metres of Turkmen gas a year, making it a key source of Turkmenistan’s export revenues. (Writing by Olzhas Auyezov: Editing by Angus MacSwan)

By Marat Gurt

ASHGABAT, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Turkmenistan announced plans on Monday to build a naval base on its Caspian Sea coast, an area at the centre of a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over oil and gas fields.

The dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan could jeopardise Turkmen plans to join the EU-sponsored Nabucco gas pipeline that bypasses Russia because gas from Turkmenistan would need to pass Azerbaijan to enter the pipeline.

“We are already buying military ships equipped with missiles,” President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said in televised remarks to the national security council. “Naval exercises should be held regularly”.

Turkmenistan, Central Asia’s biggest gas exporter, and Azerbaijan are at loggerheads over a number of large oil and gas blocks in the Caspian Sea.

Berdymukhamedov last month ordered his government to take the dispute to an international court.

Iran, another energy-rich Caspian state, has opposed dividing the sea into sectors, an approach favoured by ex-Soviet republics Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen leader made it clear however that the navy would not be used to settle such disputes and would instead protect his nation from external threats.

“We have no territorial claims,” he said. “There are international terrorist groups which, it should be said, would like to disturb the Turkmen people’s peaceful life.”

Berdymukhamedov did not specify how large the Turkmen navy would be but said it should be complete by 2015.

Turkmenistan has shown particular interest in joining Nabucco since April when Russia stopped buying Turkmen gas in a row over supply terms.

The row followed a pipeline explosion blamed by Ashgabat on a sudden cut in gas intake by Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research). Russia used to buy about 50 billion cubic metres of Turkmen gas a year, making it a key source of Turkmenistan’s export revenues. (Writing by Olzhas Auyezov: Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Saudi- Iranian War fought in Sa’ada

Saudi- Iranian War fought in Sa’ada

*
Hakim Almasmari
With every day that passes, we come close to believe that the war in Sa’ada is a Saudi-Iranian war, not a Yemeni one.
Both foreign countries are desperate for more regional power while both are also worried of losing greatly. Saudi Arabia does not want Houthis controlling northern parts of Yemen for one main reason; southern Saudi has a large number of Shiite’s which could make them turn against their country as well. Saudi also fears that Shiite’s already have a militant group in the north of Arabia (Hezbollah), and are now looking for one in the south of Arabia (Houthis). Saudi Arabia paid billions of dollars to keep Hezbollah out of rule in Lebanon and somewhat came out victorious for the meantime, and is doing the same in Yemen.
On the other hand, Iran is trying to expand its Persian Empire even further after great success in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and not mention keeping the estimated 15 million Sunni Iranians in check and with no power whatsoever. The famous Hezbollah satellite channel Al-A’lam has been reporting news about Houthi successes around the hour, and as if it was a Houthi channel. Houthis have until now managed to get strong media attention, which in result makes its struggle international after it was a local problem for more than six years.
Yemenis are dying for the sake of foreign agendas. Killing each other to please an outside party is what both Houthis and the government have been doing over the last six years. Is a Yemeni citizen so cheap in front of its leaders?
Over 5000 people have died in the ongoing war in Sa’ada, 45,000 have been injured and more than 200,000 displaced and living in tents, eating charity food, and sleeping through cold nights.
Saudis and Iranians have convinced the Yemeni government and Houthis to fight each other for nothing.

Saudi- Iranian War fought in Sa’ada

*
Hakim Almasmari
With every day that passes, we come close to believe that the war in Sa’ada is a Saudi-Iranian war, not a Yemeni one.
Both foreign countries are desperate for more regional power while both are also worried of losing greatly. Saudi Arabia does not want Houthis controlling northern parts of Yemen for one main reason; southern Saudi has a large number of Shiite’s which could make them turn against their country as well. Saudi also fears that Shiite’s already have a militant group in the north of Arabia (Hezbollah), and are now looking for one in the south of Arabia (Houthis). Saudi Arabia paid billions of dollars to keep Hezbollah out of rule in Lebanon and somewhat came out victorious for the meantime, and is doing the same in Yemen.
On the other hand, Iran is trying to expand its Persian Empire even further after great success in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and not mention keeping the estimated 15 million Sunni Iranians in check and with no power whatsoever. The famous Hezbollah satellite channel Al-A’lam has been reporting news about Houthi successes around the hour, and as if it was a Houthi channel. Houthis have until now managed to get strong media attention, which in result makes its struggle international after it was a local problem for more than six years.
Yemenis are dying for the sake of foreign agendas. Killing each other to please an outside party is what both Houthis and the government have been doing over the last six years. Is a Yemeni citizen so cheap in front of its leaders?
Over 5000 people have died in the ongoing war in Sa’ada, 45,000 have been injured and more than 200,000 displaced and living in tents, eating charity food, and sleeping through cold nights.
Saudis and Iranians have convinced the Yemeni government and Houthis to fight each other for nothing.