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Stratfor: limiting the influence of Russia around the perimeter of its borders falls within the sphere of direct interests of the United States
Material posted: Publication date: 17-06-2013

The article of the head of the American intelligence-analytical center Stratfor George Friedman, in which the author reflects on the issue of American-Azerbaijani relations and tries reasonably to show how important Baku for Washington in the context of geopolitical confrontation with Russia and Iran. Article quote, do not distort the overall meaning.

There where three great powers – Russia, Turkey and Iran, and this place is the Caucasus. Currently, the interests of these powers are concentrated in the country called Azerbaijan, which turns it into a kind of battleground, where clashed the interests of the three States warring over the centuries. Until 1991 Azerbaijan was part of USSR, as well as other States of the South Caucasus. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the borders of Russia shifted to the North, Azerbaijan in the most advantageous geopolitical location, sharing borders with the two largest regional powers.

Azerbaijan has also become one of the largest producers of energy. In the late nineteenth-century half of the world's oil was produced in Azerbaijan, whose oil fields in Baku were designed by the Nobel brothers – the inventors of dynamite and the famous founders of the award. That's where they made their fortune. A few years ago, government officials invited me to dinner, which was held in the mansion of the Nobel brothers. I don't know what others might be thinking within the walls of this elegant room, but personally, I thought about wanting Hitler to reach urgently to Baku and its oil, as well as that fiasco at Stalingrad was, in fact, the result of his attempt to seize Azerbaijan's oil fields. Once Azerbaijan was something of a prize in the Imperial games. Today Azerbaijan is an independent state, but in a very dangerous place.

I note that since 2008, released my book titled "Next 100 years" (The Next 100 Years), I have repeatedly visited Azerbaijan, where there are many people, friendships which I treasure. From my friends I often hear reproaches in my country, they say, Americans don't want to be friends with us. And since I don't like to criticize America abroad, we prefer to divert the conversation in another direction. Friendship is friendship, as they say...

Azerbaijan wants friendship with America and wonders about the indifference with which the US relate to it. This interest only increases as time goes. About it I know for a fact from people I meet from year to year, during the visits, which often turn into a test of strength my liver.

I travel a lot on duty and I know that America is dissatisfied with everything; someone because she did something, and someone that did not. In any case, these "all" accuse US of treachery, but I kind of personally involved. I'm usually indifferent to such things and pay in the same coin, but in the case of Azerbaijan I am inclined to come to his defense. The Azerbaijanis seems as if America has betrayed them. And because it is actually. It's not the sentimentality. I must admit, that the powers there can be no friends, and the United States are required to observe only their own interests.

My interest in Azerbaijan requires a more compelling explanation. In "The Next 100 Years" I made a forecast for a number of events, beginning with the serious weakening of Europe and a parallel increase in relative power of Russia. The latter have their problems, but against the backdrop of Europe's energy dependence on Russia and the fact that the Russians have the money to purchase assets in Europe, the decline in itself means a stronger Russia. Countries that will feel this power – the States bordering the former Soviet Union: the line from Poland to Turkey, then from Turkey to Azerbaijan, the Eastern anchor of Europe on the Caspian sea.

As for the U.S., they will continue to be the dominant force in the world in economic and military plans. Victory in the cold war was won by the America, because the USSR out of the game, although during a bilateral confrontation was unclear who in the end will be the winner. Once on the pedestal, the USA were delighted and had no clear idea what to do next, though he spoke about the new world order. To start US imagined that the war was behind and was conducted solely for the money. Then they began to think that I will spend the next century in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Now in Washington, it seems, believe that it should refrain from participation in world events – so far the country with 25% of global GDP are able to stand aside.

Bigwigs of American foreign policy represented by two camps. First – realists, who argue that the United States needs to promote its national interests. It sounds reasonable, but until then, until you ask them: "what is this national interest?"? The second camp consists of idealists, who believe that the US should use its power for good, whether building democracy or the fight against violation of human rights. It's a good idea, but until then, until you ask them: "how you gonna do it?". Usually the answer is: to invade, but to kill only the bad.

The point is that U.S. global power, rushing from conflict to conflict, from one concept to another. Need time to understand how to use the force. The British lost America, and only after they received the understanding. USA are lucky they are rich and isolated, and even if terrorists kill some of us, we're in no danger occupation, like France and Poland. We have time for growth. It causes discomfort to the rest of the world. Americans sometimes do inexplicable things, sometimes not doing right. When the US make the mistake of basically suffering, or threatened with other countries. Therefore, some part of the world wants the US gone from the map. But this will not happen. Someone wants the U.S. took responsibility for their safety. But this will not happen.

But.... Let's go back to Azerbaijan. This country is bordered by Dagestan in Russia and the province of East Azerbaijan in Iran. In Iran there are lots of Azerbaijanis, the largest national minority of the country (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Azeri). Azerbaijan itself is secular for the most part the country over which hangs the threat of Iranian Shiite terror, and from the North, a Sunni. In the 90s, Azerbaijan has lost the war in Armenia (supported by Russia) for the territory called Nagorno-Karabakh. Today in Armenia the Russian military is stationed. In Georgia formally Pro-us government was replaced by figures who have, apparently, a close relationship with Russia. And here is Azerbaijan, whose geographical position between Iran and Russia is simply critical. Secular Muslim state bordering a hostile Iran and Russia – is a rarity.

From the point of view of the US Azerbaijan is of strategic interest because of its energy. The Russian strategy aims to increase Europe's dependence on Russian resources. In theory this will increase Russian influence and decrease risks to its national security. The second phase of this strategy is to limit the choice of the Europeans, including Turkey. In other words, Russia does not want Europe available external sources, outside of Moscow. In this situation, if desorganizados Europe limiting the influence of Russia around the perimeter of its borders and stabilization of Pro-Western States included in the direct interests of the United States.

Also in the interest of the US to contain Iranian power projection and to retain a platform for influencing the Azeri population of Iran. But American interests and abilities have a limit. The U.S. can support the same countries that provide their national security. The United States cannot be the primary source of this security. And that's where the Washington-Baku are interesting: Azerbaijan is strategically located between the two antagonistic forces of the USA. Azerbaijan serves as the main transit point for NATO troops in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan wants to have the possibility to purchase American weapons, but the United States in many cases have refused to do this. Now, the Azerbaijanis have turned to the Israelis, which have a close relationship.

Azerbaijan has all the hallmarks of a full-fledged ally of the USA. The strategic position allows one to influence events in Iran, to limit Russia's influence in Europe. Due to its geographical location Azerbaijan needs the weapons for which he is willing to pay. USA does not sell, and for two main reasons – the powerful Armenian-American community and human rights activists who accuse the government of Azerbaijan as undemocratic and corrupt. Regarding the latter, I don't think so. In any case, for a little more than 20 years, the country can not pass the path from Soviet Republic to the state of the economy devoid of corruption. Azerbaijan became a full-fledged liberal democracy, and could not, when surrounded by hostile powers – Iran, Russia and Armenia.

As for the criticism of the regime, it is difficult to imagine that any other government would be more liberal or transparent. If you come to power, the opposition, sponsored by Iran, we will have another Iran. If you come the opposition Pro-Russian wing, everything will be like Russia. The position that Americans should not promote their strategic interests in a situation where the current regime is morally superior to support Russia or Iran opposition – a perversion. Azerbaijan is important for the U.S. not because of its moral character, and due to the fact that it's a wedge between Russia and Iran. Any regime that replaced the existing one in Azerbaijan could be far worse in moral terms as well as the hostile USA.

Source: "REGNUM "

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