“I was woken up at five in the morning by the sound of pounding on my door,” said Omar Ezubeik, a Tripolitan. “It was...
Syrian opposition leaders are calling for urgent international intervention in the besieged city of Homs, located 100...
From the Blog
The oil factor in Kosovo independence
On Feb. 17, Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared its independence. Not surprisingly, it was instantly recognized as a state by the United States, Germany, Britain and France. With an area of 4,203 square miles, Kosovo may be a tiny territory. But in the great game of oil politics, it holds great importance, which is in inverse proportion to its size.Kosovo does not have oil, but its location is strategic as the trans-Balkan pipeline - known as AMBO pipeline after its builder and operator, the U.S.-registered Albanian Macedonian Bulgarian Oil Corporation, will pass through it.
The pipeline will pump Caspian oil from the Bulgarian port of Burgas via Macedonia to the Albanian port of Vlora for transport to European countries and the United States. Specifically, the $1.1 billion AMBO pipeline will permit oil companies operating in the Caspian Sea to ship their oil to Rotterdam and the East Coast of the United States at substantially less cost than they are experiencing today.
When operational by 2011, the pipeline will become a part of the regionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s critical East-West corridor infrastructure which includes highway, railway, gas and fiber optic telecommunications lines. This pipeline will bring oil directly to the European market by eliminating tanker traffic through the ecologically sensitive waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
In 2000, the U.S. GovernmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Trade and Development Agency financed a feasibility study of the pipeline, which updated and enlarged the projectÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s original feasibility study dating from early 1996. Brown & Root Energy Services, a wholly-owned British subsidiary of Halliburton, completed the original feasibility study for this project.
The agencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s paper, published in May 2000, said the pipeline is a U.S. strategic interest. According to the paper, the pipeline will provide oil and gas to the U.S. market worth $600-million a month, adding that the pipeline is necessary because the oil coming from the Caspian Sea will quickly surpass the safe capacity of the Bosphorus.
The project, the agency notes, will "provide a consistent source of crude oil to American refineries Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ provide American companies with a key role in developing the vital east-west corridor Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ and advance the privatization aspirations of the U.S. government in the region."
In November 1998, Bill Richardson, the then-U.S. energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the extraction and transport of Caspian oil.
"This is about AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s energy security," he explained. "ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also about preventing strategic inroads by those who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t share our values. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right."
This leaves little doubt that the war in the former Yugoslavia was fought solely in order to secure access to oil from new and biddable states in central Asia. It is obvious that the former Yugoslavia, especially Serbia, was a serious problem for the realization of the plan.
In June 1999, in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia, U.S. forces seized 1,000 acres of farmland in southeast Kosovo at Uresevic, near the Macedonian border, and began the construction of Camp Bondsteel, which is the biggest construction project of a U.S. military base since the war in Vietnam. Now, why would the United States build such a massive camp in Kosovo?
In evaluating KosovoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s independence, it is also important to know that Kosovo is not gaining independence or even minimal self-government.
It will be run by an appointed High Representative and bodies appointed by the United States, European Union and NATO. An old-style colonial viceroy and imperialist administrators will have control over foreign and domestic policy. It is similar to the absolute power held by L. Paul Bremer in the first two years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The United States has merely consolidated its direct control of a totally dependent colony in the heart of the Balkans.
The United States has argued that the case of Kosovo is unique and that separatists in other states in Europe and the Balkans will not receive aid and welcome from major powers. However, the Kosovo independence bolsters hopes of militants in the Indian-controlled Kashmir to achieve the same status for the disputed territory. "The world community, the European Union in particular, should play a Kosovo-like role in getting the dispute resolved in Kashmir," says Yasin Malik, chairman of pro-independence group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.
Although several countries have recognized Kosovo as a new state, India said it was studying the legal ramifications. India is wary of recognizing Kosovo as an independent state because of its potential implications for Kashmir, racked by a nearly two-decade freedom struggle against New DelhiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s occupation that has left more than 43,000 people dead.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is an author, journalist and executive editor of American Muslim Perspective.