Against the background of the official Israeli officials on high alert for war with Iran and the IAEA report on the occurrence of two-year effort of the Islamic republic to develop nuclear weapons had a special significance as the country’s position of Turkmenistan that could be a crucial springboard for attack, or, conversely, reliable rear defense. It is known that Israel and Iran had a long period of mutual influence in Turkmenistan in order to win over in the process of determining the question of war or peace. And if Israel’s side in this fight for the sympathy of Ashgabat was the objective superiority, and including support for the U.S., Iran has argued its often definitive requirements to its northern neighbor close relationship in economic and ethnic characteristics of the structure of the population.
Tugged on the strings
The regime of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov tend to combine prudence with provocative actions of training and awareness-raising measures. This policy is in the eyes of its traditional partners in Ashgabat often assumes the shape of blackmail, as it is commonly known in the vicissitudes of relations with Russia “gas issue”. Similar tactics in recent years Turkmenistan has uses in trying to find a compromise between participation in a global economy that largely depends on the position of Israel and the United States, and the preservation of peace on its borders, that is to a large extent dependent on relationships with Iran.
Balancing the interests of Israel and Iran to Turkmenistan permissible as long as the question does not arise by an edge. Already, the presence of U.S. armed forces under the guise of transit structures near Ashgabat and Mary stands for the position that will be forced to take a Turkmen president in the event of military operations in Iran to retain power and a respectable position in the global economic structures.
The internal state of the Turkmen society is such that in the short term it does not threaten the major internal manifestations of discontent. On the other hand, excessive pressure makes the internal balance of the state dependent on exogenous factors. Decisive of them could be the expansion of conflicts in neighboring Afghanistan and the beginning of a major war in the south – in Iran. In such circumstances, the Turkmenistan will be subject to all the disasters the rear of the military operation will be borne not only by economic and reputational losses, but that much more important, it may be to those of the international forces, whose task is to eliminate self-willed, authoritarian regimes and the capture of resources through a rough pseudo-grafting institutions. Obviously, to avoid the inevitable choice of priorities in the context of the Iranian-Israeli conflict will not be able to Turkmenistan.
Israeli-Turkmen contacts very rarely the subject of monitoring the media, and yet the economic and political relations between the two countries have a long history and deep roots. One of the cornerstones of cooperation of Israel and Turkmenistan in the economic sphere is energy. The leader in this area is considered a company “Merhav”, owned by Joseph Maiman. Among the major projects implemented by “Merhav”, including with the help of a senior administration official Turkmen President Alexander Zhadan is called a complete reconstruction of the Turkmenbashi oil refinery and Seydi refinery. The total investment in these projects has exceeded three billion U.S. dollars. According to the official website of the company, she also successfully implemented in Turkmenistan, a number of other projects’ in the fields of agriculture, health and safety. ” Maiman and his companion Mirkin belonged at one time the idea of building a trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Turkey. He was also on the personal instructions of the first president Saparmurat Niyazov, the Turkmen citizenship was granted the rank of Honorary Consul of Turkmenistan in Israel and the official status of a special envoy on issues related to energy exports. On the sidelines of the informal status of Israeli businessman was the title of “treasurer of Turkmenbashi.”
The agreement on opening the Embassy of Israel in Turkmenistan was reached in June 2009, and in September he was appointed ambassador to the former legal resident of the “Mossad” in the CIS Reuven Dinel. However, in early June 2009, Chief of General Staff of the Iranian Hassan Firuzabadi urged the Turkmen authorities to prevent the opening of the Israeli embassy. “We are taking all measures to limit the influence of the Zionists in the neighboring state of Iran, in particular, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan,” – said Firuzabadi. As a result, in February and March last year, it became clear that Dinel not receive accreditation from the Turkmen authorities. His candidacy has not been officially rejected, but in response to requests Israelis were silent.
In terms of geopolitics and the ethnic component of communication of Turkmenistan and Israel is ephemeral. The majority of the Jews of Turkmenistan – Ashkenazi Jews who arrived in the region during the Soviet era. According to official data, the largest Jewish community in the country is in Ashgabat and employs 800 people. The remaining Jews live in an area between the towns of Chardzhou and Mary. In this country there are no synagogues, no rabbis. The Jewish Community of Turkmenistan has no formal status and. Israeli efforts to establish social structures in Turkmenistan communal life have so far been unsuccessful, as evidenced by departure was in 1989, more than 1,000 Jews to Israel.
However, in Turkmenistan, with success, with the support of the Israeli lobby in the Office of the President working businessmen of Jewish origin from other countries. For general comments participants of the business life of Ashgabat, the confidence of such businesses in the country is such that allows them full voice to declare their caste exclusiveness. For example, little known to the public, the owner of a speculative oil and gas company operating in Turkmenistan, Loewenstein, involved in Russia in 1999 to criminal prosecution for tax evasion amounting to about $ 1 million in private conversations, is wont to say that in business deals only to those whose spiritual home is Israel, and the “gentiles” to discuss business matters has no desire. Such statements often sounded from the lips of Jewish businessmen operating in Turkmenistan, as Mirsky, Mogil’nitskii, Shem, etc.
It can be assumed that the excessive arrogance of such “entrepreneurs”, served, including those who are responsible for some failures of the vowels in the mutual relations of Turkmenistan with Israel. It is reported with reference to informed sources, the Turkmen government refused to deal with an Israeli company to buy for $ 300 million satellite, which could be used in both civilian and military purposes. Experts agree it is a private event correlated with the aggravation of the situation around Iran’s foreign policy and counter-pressure on Tehran’s neighbors, and potential allies. The outcome of the negotiations on the purchase of Israeli satellite is a creature of another long-running story of bilateral relations, namely the opening of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Ashgabat.
In these circumstances, mutual distrust and tension Jewish business is an important link in trade in natural resources of Turkmenistan. However, the government of this country demonstrates the desire to limit the participation of foreign investors brokerage, project processing and in extraction allows them to identify the most risky projects. Thus, the objective conditions and the geopolitical factor of alertness of the Turkmen leadership makes the position of Israel and Israeli businesses in this country wobbly at all the significance of contemporary Israeli involvement in the internal economic life of Turkmenistan.
Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov visited the Nowruz celebration in Iran in 2011, wanting to witness the strengthening of “good neighborliness and brotherhood.” Meanwhile, the ethno-cultural community of Iranian and Turkmen peoples, there are serious flaws. The first line of the split – the religious. The Turkmens, as opposed to the Shiite Persians, traditionally practiced Sunni Islam. Language and ethnic community exists in Iran and Tajikistan, but relations with Turkmenistan in this area are rather forced to fill the vacuum of genuine social and economic contacts.
In this regard, the tone of relations between the two sets of the infamous trade of resources. Turkmen gas supplied northern provinces of Iran, and it was initiated by Tehran and its funding in the mid-1990s, began to implement this project. Today, Turkmenistan and Iran have linked two natural gas, which Iran arrives in about 14 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the possibility of increasing to 20 billion cubic meters.
In 2010, the total amount of Iranian oil exports Turkmenistan has made $ 386 million and imports – 403 million dollars. Total for 2009 and 2010, bilateral trade grew by 15% compared to previous years. At present, according to the Minister of Commerce Mehdi Ghazanfari in February 2011, the total volume of trade between Iran and Turkmenistan exceeded $ 4 billion, and by the parties, there is every possibility and conditions for the increase in this indicator over the next 5 years to 10 billion dollars a year. In addition, in the relations between Turkmenistan and Iran greater role for the implementation of joint projects . The last of those is the construction of the railway Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran, launched in 2007.
On this list of important joint economic projects between the two countries has been exhausted, and serve very definite pragmatic and vital interests of Iran’s security. For this reason, the steady drift of Turkmenistan in the direction of the United States, whose armed forces planned and under various disguises being developed in this country, is often the hysterical reaction of Tehran. Every further step of Turkmenistan and the United States, whether increased cooperation in the field of fuel supply and logistics support of coalition forces in Afghanistan, or the deepening of cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, is loud statements by officials in Tehran.
Thus, the November 9th member of the national security and foreign policy of the Iranian parliament Zohreh Elahian said in an interview with Iranian news agency Fars, that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the regional outposts of the Israeli secret service “Mossad”, as well as U.S. intelligence and the UK. According to her, with the territories of these countries have bases whose purpose is to “lead and coordinate terrorist groups, as well as operations to intelligence gathering and sabotage against the Islamic republic and its citizens.”
The choice is made
The above and many other statements of Iranian officials and public figures indicate that not only the community of experts, but also to recognize the fait accompli, Tehran Turkmenistan choice in favor of Israel and its Western allies. This choice for President Berdymukhamedov has made history, spreading an international force with a clear advantage in favor of the United States and Israel. Active economic contacts between Turkmenistan and Iran were not strong enough arm to break the trend. In turn, Israel, and sustaining the local lesion, regular and unobtrusive work achieved considerable success in the bridgehead to the north of Iran. Thus, in practice there is no response but the extent of Turkmenistan’s participation in future operations against Tehran. But it depends on the nature of the operation itself: whether it will be long and aimed at changing the political system in Iran, or the local end and after attacks on nuclear facilities. Today, “informed sources” is thrown into the message field information about upcoming local operation, but, as we know, appetite comes with eating, and under certain conditions, Turkmenistan, whose policy of “neutrality” and “diversification” and otherwise – of pleasing “and yours and ours “- which deprived him of reliable and key allies may be in the center of a fiery tangle of Iran and Afghanistan.