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Andrew's Winds of War: 2003-11-24

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew TOP TOPICS * Eduard Shevardnadze formally resigned as the President of Georgia Sunday in the face of a popular uprising, eschewing the option of trying to suppress the uprising through violent means. New elections will be held in 45 days. How this will affect the war on terror is open to question, although it's possible the West can use Georgia as an example of democracy triumphing, assuming the new elections occur on schedule. * JK: Orson Scott Card has a great summary of the war thus far. And yes, we can lose. * JK: Oskar at Logos has an interesting post about terrorists looking to target the Netherlands. Speaking of which, Oskar also links to a provocative report that looks at the role of the Bosnian conflict in helping al-Qaeda grow. Guess some of them still hold a grudge over Srebrenica... Other Topics Today Include: Iraq attacks; Iraqi debt relief; al-Qaeda-Iraq links; al-Qaeda evolving; New Iranian blog; Afghanistan reports; Georgia on our mind; Israel dismantling some settlements; Turkish bombing aftermath; al Qaeda's primary war; al-Qaeda adapts; Ceasefire in Kashmir?
IRAQ BRIEFING * Two U.S. soldiers were killed in Mosul and their bodies were reportedly mutilated, while a third U.S. soldier died from a roadside bomb. * Suicide bombers attacked police stations in Baqubah and Bani Sad, killing 17 in another blow against Iraqis deemed to be cooperating with occupation forces. * Some good news from Germany, as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for debt relief and forgiveness of Iraqi debts. While Germany has little to offer in the way of troops, their diplomatic support could be a significant assist for U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq. * Zeyad has information on plans for 10 December anti-terrorism protests in Iraq. Hat tip: Instapundit. Arx Americana has more in "An Ordinary Iraqi" and "The Real International Answer", featuring some interesting links from The Mesopotamian and Healing Iraq as well. * The Iraq-al Qaeda question remains open to question, as Newsweek says the case is not yet closed despite the Stephen Hayes memo purportedly linking the two (Hat tip: Instapundit). Dan Darling has been doing a 6-part analysis of his own on this subject: Part I, Part II, Part III. * Which "cards" have we captured so far? The CENTCOM list. And the visual version of "Ba'ath Poker." * The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated Nov. 2, 2003] * Don't forget Chief Wiggles' Toys for Iraq drive! IRAN REPORTS * Iran continued its quest for improved relations with an official condemnation of the bombings in Iraq. The question remains, of course, if Iran has turned off its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. * Or other terrorist support, like the reports al Qaeda ordered the Saudi bombing from Iran. * On the other hand, Iran may be making the right moves, as the U.S. has dropped its demand the IAEA declare Iran in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. * And if you're looking for a more direct link to what the average Iranian is thinking, check out iranFilter, a collaborative Iranian blog. Hat tip: Instapundit. U.S.A. * The World Trade Center PATH station reopened this weekend, marking an important step in the return to normalcy for New York City. * JK: Rivitman has an idea for a new Army division. I like it, and would add this: it would begin as one American brigade, which would form the core of a force of international volunteers under U.S. command, in a Foreign-Legion type arrangement with citizenship eligibility at the end of a 10-year service term. THE WIDER WAR * The Argus has a great link wrap-up of the Georgia situation. Hat tip: Instapundit. * It's a bad month for American helicopters, as five U.S. soldiers were killed in a chopper crash near Bagram. The soldiers were participating in Operation Mountain Resolve, a U.S. operation intended to take on Taliban and al Qaeda remnants in eastern Afghanistan. * Donald Sensing reminds us that as much as al Qaeda hates the west, their primary goal is converting other Muslims to their cause. * The good news is, the these terrorists weren't too bright. The bad news is, there are probably quite a few more of them, and the odds are some of them will succeed. (Hat tip: Instapundit). * Case in point: Phil Carter is concerned al Qaeda is evolving in response to U.S. actions in the war. * Ariel Sharon is considering dismantling some Israeli settlements in an attempt to unilaterally get the peace process moving again. It's unlikely this will help the peace process again, but it may help protect a few Israelis from future terrorist attacks. Conversely, it may also encourage further terrorism on the belief terror is working. * Turkey is searching for international connections to the terrorists who bombed two synagogues and British targets in Istanbul. How Turkey responds to these attacks will be a bellweather for how well an Islamic democracy can blend the two constituencies. * Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld earned a rebuke from North Korea for calling the regime evil. After saying it would consider President Bush's written security guarantees, this sounds like another attempt by the North to keep western negotiators off-balance in hopes of scoring a better deal. * North Korea is telling Mongolia it predicts a nuclear-free peninsula, offering a counterpoint to the Rumsfeld rebuke. * Pakistan offered a unilateral cease-fire in Kashmir, offering the hope of cooling the tensions between the two nuclear nations. * Outsourcing jobs isn't just an American problem. On a lighter note, it seems British jihadis are losing suicide bomber jobs to cheap foreign labour! WSJ Best of the Web wonders if tariffs are the solution... Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know.


dude, how come you fail to ever talk about the EuroFascists and their undivided support for the regime..?

Georgia is the center of a lot of the competition in the region between the US and Russia; the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Shah Deniz gas pipeline are fairly good examples of US investment there (and European as well). Washington and Western Europe and Shevardnadze have had a close relationship since 1991; and whoever replaces him will continue to need Western money in the region to keep Russia at bay.

And of course the war in Chechnya is partly being fought over that area's oil resources; in fact, Russia needs to desperately hold onto its control of its former client states in the region, as well as regions like Chechnya to maintain the export that is almost singly supporting its economy - oil exports. Since the early 1990s, the US has considered Caspian sea region an area of influence, and Russia has been in a rearguard action to combat US and Western European influence there. Think of the "Great Game" of the 19th century. :) You can read Kipling's "Kim" to get a flavor of it.

Jean, why do you believe Russia is in Chechnya over oil? Do you have any evidence that oil is one of the top revenue produces for Russia?

I'm a little curious too Jean. I have some sympathy for Russia's intentions in Chechnya, but definitely not its methods of achieving them.

Chechens jumped the gun on the whole question of independence, which was to be settled in 2000, by doing stupid things like invading Dagestan in 99.

I think, more than anything else, Chechnya is about pride and sending a message to other ethnic republics that secession is not an option and will be met with harsh reprisals.

Russian behavior towards Georgia (which definitely is connected to the Chechnya situation as well to Georgia's own separatists) does have a lot to do with energy policy and its part in helping the Russians build a "liberal empire."

I can't quite tell if Russia is pleased with the situation in Georgia or not. My gut reaction would be "no," but Russia seems pretty cool with things. This could come in quite handy with keeping Aslan Abashidze (leader of Ajaria Autonomous Republic) and neighboring states in check.

Oil is definitely one of the top revenue producers for Russia, and will remain so along with natural gas.

Chechnya was a major oil producing region in the early 1900s, but by 1990 that had declined considerably. There is a Transneft pipeline that crosses Chechen territory, but it is very often closed and Russia has been working to build pipelines around Chechnya (via Dagestan) for obvious reasons. Grozny was an important oil refinery center before the war, but I doubt that's still true.

We've covered Caspian pipeline politics before here on Winds of Change.NET, and it's a subject worth following. Type "Caspian pipeline" into our search engine, and you'll see.

Why wouldn't Russia be please? It's FM , Ivanov, negotiated the resignation thus boosting their prestige in the country. You have an untested, inexperienced government taking reins whose politics smack rather highly of the same nationalist claptrap that saw most of Eastern Bloc's peripheral territories drown in fratriciadal massacres in 1990s. Just because the opposition was against Eddie, doesn't make them any better or , potentially, any less corrupt. All of this adds up to a high likelihood of delay in the US sponsored pipeline.

As for the fact that Russia is almost as dependant on oil and export as Saudi Arabia, that's nearly indisputible

And one of the primary reasons for war is in fact the idea that posession of Chechnya would susbstantially improve logistics of supplying Caspian Oil to Western markets, through Russian-satellites. So you have Iran, Russia and US competing for influence, since US doesn't want any of the other two to get a hegemonic position in what is quickly emergin as the region that's even more oil-rich than Middle East proper.

Nor does the U.S. want to sit by as any of the Central Asian republics go Islamist, and potentially become another Afghanistan. Most have armed Islamists with al-Qaeda links on their soil.

Prior to 9/11, the game in this region was mostly between Russia, Iran, and Turkey, with some efforts by China and the US and EU working their commercial interests in the region but little else.

By October 2001, the picture was very different.

Central Asia is now a region worth paying closer attention to, and that's why we run Nathan Hamm's outstanding "Central Asia -stans Summary" every month.

Thanks for the Argus link, that was quite enlightening. When I first heard that Shevardnadze had resigned I had some concerns, considering that he has been a solid ally of the West for a long while. However, it sounds like Saakashvili is both a more dynamic leader and more likely to resist pressure from Russia, which Shevardnadze was apparently beginning to compromise to. My major concern would be if the new government decided to cut cooperation with the U.S. in regards to training and keeping the Pankisi Gorge from becoming an al Queta haven; that would be a significant setback in the current war. I've read nothing that indicates Saakashvili or the other reformist have anything like that in mind.

The usual suspects will accuse the U.S. of just making another chess move in the Great Game. Folks like that see the diabolic hand of the USA/CIA/Mossad/etc. in everything anyway, so I don't worry about that. Myself, I'm glad the transfer of power will apparently be mostly bloodless, and hope that the current turmoil in Georgia will result in a state on its way to prosperity, rather than another failed state where terrorism can breed.

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