January 29, 2004

India in, Russia Out?

Let's take a look at another geopolitical development of 2004...the marginalization of Russia and the elevation of India. The bulk of the post below is about Russia. I'll save India for later. But in short order, elevating the importance of India on the geopolitical stage appears to help the Bush administration in a number of important ways: 1) It makes it likelier that in concession for U.S. support in getting a permanent seat on the Security Council, India will work with Musharraf to find an agreement on Kashmir. 2) Growing stronger ties with India puts a counterweight to growing Chinese influence in South West Asia. 3) India is a growing voice of support and partner with Israel on the world stage. Ariel Sharon went to India in September. It was the first visit to India by an Israeli prime minister. One month later India signed a one billion-dollar deal to buy the Phalcon military radar system from Israel. Early this month, Israel and India announced a plan to set up a joint panel to boost bilateral trade. Israel has even signed on to an Indian-led unmanned mission to the moon in the next five years. Could India be a credible broker of peace in Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Stranger things have happened....meanwhile...back to Iraq...and oil. I mentioned yesterday that the list of who was on the oil take from Saddam Hussein is finally being published by an Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada. The article was translated by the Mideast Media Research Institute (MEMRI). You can find the translation here or by going to http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA16004 . It's also worth keeping in mind that plenty of people on this list deny that they were on the take. Sounds like a good story for the New York Times or someone with a lot of resources to take up. Of course you might find out, as I said over a year ago, that for some people, the war really WAS about oil, the kind they were getting to say nice things about Saddam. MEMRI also publishes these useful disclaimers: First, MEMRI is not responsible for the accuracy of the details with regard to the names listed or the amount of oil granted. Second, all names listed in the original were in Arabic. Some of those are transliterated into English phonetically, and may not be precise. Third, denials by those whose names appear in this dispatch are footnoted. Fourth, the issuing of vouchers by Saddam's regime may have served two primary purposes: A: Payments in the form of bribes to individuals and organizations for their support of the regime. B: Vouchers may have been issued to pay for goods and services that fell under U.N. Security Council sanctions and could not be financed under the "Oil for Food" program. Goods may have included military equipment or military parts, luxury automobiles that Saddam distributed as gifts inside and outside Iraq, and general luxury goods for the benefit of high-ranking officials in the Ba'ath party and government. Fifth, the voucher recipients sold the vouchers to oil traders, who then collected the oil against the vouchers from the Kirkuk-Banias (Syria) pipeline terminal, which was operating in contravention of the Security Council sanctions. The pipeline carried 200,000 barrels per day of Iraqi oil, which benefited Syria greatly. " Dislclaimers aside, the folks who come out looking the worst from the whole article are...certain Russians. This can't be good timing for Putin, who just got dressed down by that diplomatic firebrnd, Colin Powell. The Russian paper Izvestia published a Powell essay in which, among other things, he said, "Key aspects of civil society — free media and political party development, for example — have not yet sustained an independent presence." Now, couple that with a reply Dick Cheney made to a question after his speech in Davos this week, according to Jay Nordlinger from National Review, who covered the event. Cheney was asked about the future of the U.N. His response, according to Nordligner: the U.N. was made for the world of 1945, and, 60 years on, the world looks somewhat different. Perhaps the U.N. needs to take that into account, in its structure. Translation, it makes a lot more sense to have say, Brazil and India as permanent members of the Security Council than say, France and Russia. France and Russia "punch above their weight" on the world stage for different reasons. The French have diplomatic influence in the EU and in Africa. And there multipolar vision of the world obviously has resonance in some world capitals. The Russians have oil...and those pesky nuclear weapons. Under a second Bush term, will we see Cheney, Powell, Rice et. al move to marginalize Russia as a world player? Can they afford to do that? And what effect will all this subtle poormouthing of the Russian state have on the Russian stock market? It can't be good.... Russia is one of the countries I hope to visit on my upcoming trip...so I can separate the media hype from the reality on the ground. In the meantime, here is the list of Russians receiving oil from Saddam's Iraq...according to Al-Mada. "Russia: The Russian state itself received 1,366,000,000 barrels. The list also included the following: "Companies belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party received 79.8 million barrels - the list notes the name of party president Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The Russian Communist Party received 1 million barrels. The Lukoil company received 63 million barrels. The Russneft company received 35.5 million barrels. Vladimir Putin's Peace and Unity Party received 34 million barrels - the list notes the name of party chairwoman Saji Umalatova. "The Gazprom company received 26 million barrels. The Soyuzneftgaz company received 25.5 million barrels - the list notes the name Shafrannik. The Moscow Oil Company received 25.1 million barrels. The Onako company received 22.2 million barrels. The Sidanco company received 21.2 million barrels. The Russian Association for Solidarity with Iraq received 12.5 million barrels. The Ural Invest company received 8.5 million barrels. Russneft Gazexport received 12.5 million barrels. The Transneft company received 9 million barrels. The Sibneft company received 8.1 million barrels. The Stroyneftgaz company received 6 million barrels. "The Russian Committee for Solidarity with the People of Iraq received 6.5 million barrels - the list notes the name of committee chairman Rudasev. The Russian Orthodox Church received 5 million barrels. The Moscow Science Academy received 3.5 million barrels. The Chechnya Administration received 2 million barrels. The National Democratic Party received 2 million barrels. The Nordwest group received 2 million barrels. The Yukos company received 2 million barrels. "One Russian company which phonetically reads as Zarabsneft received 174.5 million barrels. Vouchers were also granted to the Russian foreign ministry, one under the name of Al-Fayko for 1 million barrels, and one to Yetumin for 30.1 million barrels. The Mashinoimport Company received 1 million barrels. The Slavneft Company received 1 million barrels. The Caspian Invest Company (Kalika) received 1 million barrels. The Tatneft Tatarstan company received 1 million barrels. The Surgutneft company received 1 million barrels. Siberia's oil and gas company received 1 million barrels. "In addition, the son of the former Russian Ambassador to Iraq received 19.7 million barrels. Nikolay Ryjkov, a former prime minister of the USSR, received 13 million barrels. The Russian President's office director received 5 million barrels.


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