Shah Deniz Consortium Selects Nabucco, Regardless of Unresolved Turkmen Caspian Issues

[Movement on this issue is circumstantial evidence that major money changed hands under the table, in order to buy all sides onto the same team.  Putin’s next move may determine the issue of war or peace in Central Asia, for the near future.]

ASIA: SHAH DENIZ CONSORTIUM SELECTS SECOND GAS EXPORT ROUTE OPTION TO EUROPE, SAYS BP

 

(EnergyAsia, June 29 2012, Friday) — The Shah Deniz consortium, led by UK’s BP and Norway’s Statoil, has concluded its evaluation of potential gas export routes towards Southeastern and Central Europe.

In a statement, the consortium operator BP said the Nabucco West project with a route running from the Turkish-Bulgarian border to Baumgarten has been selected as the single pipeline option for the potential export of Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas to Central Europe.

Development of the South East Europe Pipeline (SEEP) project, which had been assembled by Shah Deniz partners in collaboration with Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, will cease. This decision was made on the basis of the publicly communicated selection criteria announced last year.

In particular, BP said the greater maturity of Nabucco West gave the consortium confidence that this project could be developed and delivered on the same timeline as Stage 2.

The Shah Deniz Stage 2 project aims to deliver gas from the Caspian Sea to markets in Turkey and Europe, opening up the “Southern Gas Corridor”. The progress made to date allows the consortium to maintain its target for first gas exports from Stage 2 project around the end of 2017.

BP said the consortium will cooperate with the Nabucco West project to optimise its scope, its technical studies and its commercial offer.

Based on the same criteria, in February this year the consortium selected the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the potential route for export of Stage 2 gas to Italy. Since that decision, the Shah Deniz consortium has closely worked with TAP, recently concluding a co-operation agreement with this project.

BP and Statoil each have a 25.5% stake in the consortium developing the Shah Deniz II gas field, which is thought to hold 1.2 trillion cubic metres of gas. Their partners include Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR, Russia’s LukOil, NICO, Total SA and TPAO.

BP said the consortium will continue to work with the owners of the two selected pipeline options. It will make a final decision between these projects, and will conclude related gas sales agreements ahead of the final investment decision due in mid-2013.

Shah Deniz II is expected to add 16 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/year) of gas production to the approximately 9 bcm/year from Shah Deniz Stage 1.

The latest development, located 70 km offshore in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, is expected to include two new bridge-linked production platforms, 26 subsea wells to be drilled with 2 semi-submersible rigs, 500 km of subsea pipelines built at up to 550m of water depth, a 16 bcm/year upgrade for the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), and expansion of the Sangachal Terminal.

Rashid Javanshir, President of the BP Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey Region, said:

“We are delighted to announce the selection of the Nabucco West option, alongside our earlier selection of TAP. 

This represents another important milestone in the development of Shah Deniz Stage 2 and the transportation of gas resources from the Caspian to Europe.

“We are grateful to the governments and companies who have supported the development of both the Nabucco West and SEEP pipeline projects.”

Rovnag Abdullayev, President of SOCAR, said:

“This decision constitutes a significant step towards implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor Strategy which would serve the strategic interest for sustained energy security of European countries as well as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

“This indicates the growing role of Azerbaijan as an enabler to provide diversified energy resources to European market.”

BP said the consortium will consider building more pipeline capacity to deliver Shah Deniz gas through Turkey and Europe. Any export route selected for export of Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas would need to have the ability to meet all relevant environmental, safety, social, legal and regulatory standards.

Syrian Army Masses Armor Near Turkish Border, Countering Turkish Moves

Syrian army amassing near Turkish border, FSA general claims

ANTAKYA – Reuters

 A Syrian army tank patrols an area in the district of Al-Waar in the flashpoint city of Homs on May 2, 2012. AFP

 A Syrian army tank patrols an area in the district of Al-Waar in the flashpoint city of Homs on May 2, 2012. AFP

A general in the rebel Free Syria Army said today that Syrian government forces had amassed around 170 tanks north of the city Aleppo, near the Turkish border, but there was no independent confirmation of the report.

General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the Higher Military Council, an association of senior officers who defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, said the tanks had assembled at the Infantry School near the village of Musalmieh northeast of the city of Aleppo, 30 kilometers from the Turkish border.

“The tanks are now at the Infantry School. They’re either preparing to move to the border to counter the Turkish deployment or attack the rebellious [Syrian] towns and villages in and around the border zone north of Aleppo,” Sheikh told Reuters by telephone from the border.

He said the tanks were mostly from the 17th Mechanised Division.

Turkey deployed air defense weaponry along its border with Syria yesterday, following Syria’s downing of a Turkish warlplane over the Mediterranean on Friday.

Lavrov: Repetition of Libyan Scenario in Syria Is Catastrophic for Whole Region

Lavrov: Repetition of Libyan Scenario in Syria Is Catastrophic for Whole Region



MOSCOW, (SANA) – Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Thursday said that Russia rejects any foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs, stressing the need for solving the crisis in Syria and restoring stability to it.

In a joint press conference with his Tunisian counterpart, Rafiq Abdel Salam in Moscow,  Lavrov regretted targeting Syrian media, stressing the necessity of not stopping the  broadcast of Syrian satellite channels acceding to the calls of some western  and Arab countries.

He said that it is a must to guarantee the freedom of expression and media, pointing out that targeting media became in the nature of some world governments such as the NATO bombing attack on TV center in Belgrade and the television center in Tripoli.

Lavrov warned against the agendas of some TV satellite channels which might turned into serious ideology, adding that several parties are involved in violence in Syria side by side with the armed terrorist groups.

On Geneva meeting, Lavrov stressed that leaking formulas to the media before the meeting is irresponsible stance and irresponsible approach of diplomacy.

Lavrov stressed that there is no draft resolution for Geneva meeting on Syria, indicating that there are proposals to be studied in the preparatory meeting to be held on Friday, underlining that “No agreed Syrian resolutions drafted for Geneva conference.”

Lavrov said that the Syrian people alone have the right to decide the transitional period on the basis of national dialogue and with the participation of the Syrian government and the opposition groups, adding that the international community agreed on these principles since it agreed on the plan of the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.

Lavrov said Russia rejects the imposition of previously-made recommendations on Syria, adding that Geneva meeting aims at supporting Annan’s plan as to create appropriate atmosphere to launch comprehensive national dialogue to solve the crisis in Syria.

The main role of the Gulf parties should be to influence all relevant parties to halt violence in Syria and the withdrawal of governmental forces and the opposition groups from all cities and villages under UN supervision to sit down around the negotiation table, Lavrov said.

Lavrov added that the Syrian people only has the right to determine the system of the rule in their country within the framework of the national dialogue, indicating that this principled vision constituted the basis for Russia’s call for holding Geneva meeting and it suggested the participation of the UN Security Council permanent members and some Arab, regional and European countries.

He said that the list of participants included the main countries and the essential international players, adding that the Geneva meeting aims at reaching a settlement to the crisis despite the stance of some groups and organizations such as the so-called “Friends of Syria” group which invites more than 150 countries to attend their meeting for promotion rather that serious dialogue.

Lavrov said that the U.S. rejection of Iran’s participation in Geneva meeting reflects its doubled-standard policy, underlining that it was a mistake to exclude Iran from the Geneva talks as the meeting represents a chance to unify the stances of key players on the crisis in Syria to end violence and start the political process.

Lavrov underlined that there is no NATO member who desired to repeat the mistaken Libyan scenario in Syria since such intervention will be catastrophic for the whole region, indicating to communications with NATO representatives in this regard.

He stressed that the two countries share the same stance towards preventing the repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria.

He called for democracy in implementing the principle of the rule of the international law in international relations and the multi-polarization in addition to enhancing the central role of the UN.

Lavrov said that Russia and Tunisia called for enhancing the role of the UN within the framework of this organization, reiterating Russia’s support to the aspirations of the people in the region for better life, stressing that changes should serve the interests of all sides.

The Russian Foreign Minister and his Tunisian counterpart agreed on that the changes should not lead to sectarian conflicts.

Lavrov said the people should determine their destiny without any foreign interference and the country’s sovereignty, independence and the safety of its territories should be respected and these principles can be applied in regard to the crisis in Syria.

He expressed full support to the changes taking place which work towards achieving national agreement and all other changes and reforms that meet the people’s aspirations.

For his part, Tunisian Foreign Minister stressed that the participation of some Arab and Tunisian youths in the crisis in Syria is destructive rather than useful, adding that Tunisia rejects the involvement of Tunisian youths in the Syrian Affair.

He added that Tunisia supports real political reforms in response to the aspirations of the Syrian people in regard to Syria’s priorities away from foreign intervention.

Abdel Salam hailed Russia’s positive and balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause and its commitment to the international legitimacy resolutions, in addition to rejecting settlement.

MOSCOW: the Attack on al-Ikbariya TV was carried out for political considerations

The Russian Foreign Ministry underlined that the attack on Syrian al-Ikhbariya TV has been carried out for political considerations.

“The act is a brutal aggression against those who differ in opinion and who tried to relay the objective image about what is taking place,” Alexander Lukashevich, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman said in a press statement today.  

He added that Moscow has no doubt that this crime had a political background and it was directed not only against persons, but against a media institution.

“Unfortunately that act comes within the list of acts that directly contradict with the principles of the freedom of opinion and publication       

Gatilov: Syrians should Set Conditions for Moving to Political Process

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that the participants in Geneva conference on Syria due to be held on Saturday have to provide the necessary conditions for moving to a political process that the Syrians determine.

Gatilov added on his Twitter account that ”Forming a national unity government in Syria is not possible except through dialogue between the government and the opposition groups.” 

Lavrov Discusses with Annan the International Conference on Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed in a phone call with the UN envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, the international conference on Syria due to be held in Geneva on Saturday.

In a statement on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the two sides highlighted issued related to organizing Geneva conference.

The Russian Foreign Ministry indicate that Lavrov discussed with his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, the crisis in Syria. The two sides said they had close stances on the issue.

English Bulletin 

Troop immunity likely to be focus of U.S., Afghanistan deal

[US insistence on obtaining immunity for its Special Forces hunters out to kill more Iraqis screwed Obama’s deal for a permanent presence in Iraq.  Will their demand for unlimited license to hunt Afghans cost them the same price in Afghanistan?]

Troop immunity likely to be focus of U.S., Afghanistan deal

A soldier from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division walks with his weapon to an MRAP while preparing to leave in a convoy inside FOB Joyce in Afghanistan's Kunar Province June 24, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A soldier from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division walks with his weapon to an MRAP while preparing to leave in a convoy inside FOB Joyce in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province June 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
By Missy Ryan and Hamid Shalizi

KABUL

(Reuters) – U.S. and Afghan officials are likely to tussle over legal protections for American soldiers inAfghanistan when they begin negotiations on a security agreement that would allow some U.S. troops to remain beyond 2014.

Afghan officials say they expect the deal with the United States to include the number of U.S. troops permitted to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014; the number of bases where troops will be located, and who will control them; what those troops can and can’t do and legal immunities for those soldiers.

Talks on the security agreement, which have not begun, follow the conclusion of another bilateral deal outlining the two countries’ future ties, which U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed in Kabul in May.

This time, negotiators must tackle some of the most sensitive issues that were ultimately excluded from the first deal, even as many Afghans, and Karzai himself, chafe against a foreign troop presence that has lasted more than a decade.

If such talks failed, the United States would be forced to pull out a force now numbering 90,000 by the end of 2014, when NATO nations are due to remove most troops, despite few signs that a resilient Taliban insurgency will soon die out.

Aimal Faizi, chief spokesman for Karzai, said the agreement, which is supposed to be finished by next May, would focus on the “nature, scope and obligations” of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan after 2014.

“Both sides will start talking based on these three areas,” Faizi told Reuters.

It’s not known how many U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan will stay behind after the end of 2014.

The remaining force could include several tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers, likely focusing on special forces operations targeting al Qaeda and other militants, advising Afghanistan’s inexperienced military, and retain the ability to launch U.S. drones that target militants in neighboring Pakistan.

“The security agreement will touch upon the most contentious issues that have had times strained the relationship between the two countries – so I expect that these will take a very long time,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank.

Long-standing Afghan demands to subject foreign soldiers to local law may be the main stumbling block for negotiations.

A HARDER LINE?

Whether, and when, a U.S. soldier might be tried in a local court was perhaps the most contentious issue when the United States hammered out a similar deal in 2008 with Iraq. Ultimately, the deal allowed Iraq to try U.S. soldiers for “grave” crimes committed off-duty, and off base.

As in Iraq, foremost in the mind of Afghan negotiators will likely be past missteps or abuse by American soldiers, along with years of civilian deaths that have occurred during NATO military operations.

A series of scandals involving American soldiers this year culminated in March when a U.S. staff sergeant is alleged to have walked off his base and shot at least 16 villagers in their homes.

The soldier accused in that case, Robert Bales, was whisked out of Afghanistan and is facing military trial in the United States.

Afghans also demanded that U.S. soldiers who burned copies of the Muslim holy book on a NATO base face local trial. But U.S. officials have indicated they may face only administrative discipline within the U.S. military.

A current U.S. troop agreement with Afghanistan, which has been in force since 2003, gives U.S. military personnel protection from prosecution in Afghan courts in most cases.

Yet Karzai, who critics see as bowing to Western interests, may be keen to be seen to assert Afghan sovereignty by taking a harder line in those negotiations.

At the same time, Katulis said, “the Afghan government’s negotiating stance will be more limited than what we saw in Iraq last year because the Afghan government is much more dependent on external sources of support”.

There is always the possibility that Afghanistan could ultimately rebuff the U.S. bid to secure its future troop base in Afghanistan beyond 2014 if the two countries can’t hammer out a deal on troop immunity, or for other reasons.

Last year, U.S. officials abandoned talks for a deal that would have allowed some U.S. soldiers to remain in Iraq beyond the expiration of the two countries’ security pact.

That is seen as far less likely in Afghanistan given the country’s reliance on outside military power and the threat from the Taliban.

(Editing by Michael Georgy and Robert Birsel)

More Soldier-On-Soldier Action At Ft. Bragg

[SEE:  It is this “Warrior Mentality” Nonsense That Is Creating the Monsters]

Army investigators work the scene of a fatal shooting Thursday. A soldier with the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade was shot and killed during a safety briefing.  Staff photo by Drew Brooks

One soldier killed, two injured in shooting on Fort Bragg

By Drew Brooks
Staff writer

A Fort Bragg soldier shot and killed another soldier during a unit safety briefing on post Thursday afternoon, then shot and wounded himself, officials said.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. A third soldier in the unit suffered a minor injury.

None of the soldiers’ identities have been released by Fort Bragg authorities.

The shooting happened around 3:30 p.m. during a briefing ahead of the long weekend for soldiers, officials said. It is unclear how many shots were fired.

Fort Bragg spokesman Col. Kevin Arata said he did not know the specific nature of the injuries of the two surviving soldiers, but said the shooter was alive and in custody.

A senior U.S. defense official told NBC News that the soldier killed was a battalion commander. Arata wouldn’t confirm the report but did say the brigade’s commander was not harmed.

“This is a tragedy for our community. We don’t yet know the reasons for the shooting, but are working with the unit and the affected families to help them through this difficult period,” Arata said. “Our prayers are with those who have been affected by this terrible incident.”

The killing is believed to be the first shooting murder on Fort Bragg in more than 15 years, when Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr. opened fire on his brigade at Towle Stadium. But the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade lost another soldier about three months ago when he was shot and killed in Fayetteville.

Thursday’s shooting was in a field next to the Bastogne Gables neighborhood on Fort Bragg. The area is in Fort Bragg’s historic district, several blocks from Macomb Street.

The field, often used for formations by nearby units, is flanked by buildings used by the 525th and the 16th Military Police Brigade.

Hours after the shooting, military police and agents from Army Criminal Investigation Command remained on the scene, which centered on the area around a small wooden stage.

Nearby intersections in the area of Letterman and Armistead streets remained blocked Thursday evening.

The 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade has several subordinate battalions, including the 319th Military Intelligence Battalion, the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, the 1st Squadron of the 38th Cavalry Regiment and the 525 Brigade Support Battalion.

Safety briefings are common on Fort Bragg and typically take place before weekends or holidays to remind soldiers to be safe and use caution.

Fort Bragg soldiers have a training holiday today and do not report back for duty until Tuesday.

It is unclear what, if anything, was the motive for the attack.

The Army has been confronting a surge of suicides within the military, officials have said.

Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press show that suicides have spiked this year to roughly one a day, higher than the rate of combat deaths. About half of those turning weapons on themselves have no history of deployment.

Thursday’s killing came three months after the murder of Sgt. Kevin Moseby in Fayetteville. Moseby, who had been with the Special Troops Battalion, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade since January 2010, was shot at his home in March.

Another soldier, Duane Brown Jr. of Sanford, was charged in that killing.

While several non-shooting murders have occurred on Fort Bragg in recent years, officials said it is very rare to have a soldier shot and killed on the military installation.

In October 1995, Kreutzer shot and killed Maj. Stephen Mark Badger and wounded 18 other soldiers. Kreutzer is serving a life sentence at a military prison in Kansas.

Staff writer Drew Brooks can be reached at brooksd@fayobserver.com or 486-3567.

Karimov Takes Uzbekistan Out of CSTO, Clearing Path for US Base

[SEE:  CSTO talks tough on NATO]

 “The leaders of the CSTO agreed that the deployment of foreign bases in their territory is only possible with the consent of all CSTO partners.”

Uzbekistan Without CSTO: Expected but Risky

Uzbekistan Without CSTO: Expected but Risky

Photo: RIA Novosti

Uzbekistan suspends its membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On June 28th official Tashkent sent a relevant note to the CSTO Secretariat.

The collective security treaty was signed on May 15th, 1992. On December 2nd, 2004, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on granting the CSTO an observer status in the UN General Assembly. The CSTO unites Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This agreement provides for the right of any CSTO member to opt out of the organization at any time.

Tashkent has already used its right: in 1999 it refused to extend the treaty but in August of 1999 it restored its CSTO membership. In 2009 Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov refused to sign the agreement on the Collective Forces of Operative Reaction (CFOR) within the CSTO treaty and brought cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization to a minimum. Possibly, Russia’s plans to open a military base in Kyrgyzstan that Uzbekistan was strongly against, served as a reason. There are rather strained relations between Bishkek and Tashkent, which is explained by the existence of 58 disputable areas on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. In addition to this, the inter-ethnic clashes that occurred in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 cooled the relations between the two countries even more.

Russian experts are not surprised at the suspension of Uzbekistan’s CSTO membership. And still, Tashkent has made a very risky step, an expert with the Institute of the CIS States, Andrei Grozin says. “Tashkent’s foreign policy is zigzagging. It undergoes changes only once in 2 or 3 years. Tashkent wants to win the love of NATO that is interested in solving tasks concerning the cuts of the Uzbek contingent in Afghanistan. Tashkent wants to become the key link in the future troop withdrawal and play the role of the main spring board through which the transshipment of cargoes to today’s Afghanistan’s western border will be carried out”, Grozin stressed.

However, with due regard for the current situation in Central Asian countries which is very difficult, they won’t do without security guarantees on the part of their neighbours. Neither the USA nor NATO wants to give such guarantees to Uzbekistan – and none of them can do that. Tashkent has time to think everything over. Taking into account the choices the Uzbek authorities make from time to time, Uzbekistan may soon again find itself on the list of CSTO members.