American Times & NATO: Conference for New Theaters in Security in Portugal

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American Times represented in Portugal at NATO/YATA CONFERENCE: “New Theaters in Security” by American Times Public Diplomacy Coordinator who spent the better part of a year in the Caucasus’ region of Central Asia has been invited to convey thoughts, expertise and advice to an eager crowd of military and political analysts. 

To talk about security and emerging new security threats in the Caucasus is to consider the geopolitics of the energetic resources and routes in this region. Bearing in mind the vastness of the oil and gas natural reserves in the Caspian Sea, it is firstly important to look at the players: Those that benefit from it directly, those that benefit indirectly, and also the less fortunate ones in the equation.


Besides the more fortunate ones sitting on top of the oil fields and gas pockets, namely Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran, among the indirect benefiters, it’s fairly legitimate to include the countries in the Balkans, Mediterranean, and Central Europe. Besides the already pumping BTC and BTE pipelines, let us not forget the projects to be concluded in the next couple of decades: the massive Nabucco West (Gas pipeline connecting the Caspian to Austria, passing through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, ending up in the city of Baumgarten); the Trans-Caspian pipeline (connecting Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, aiming to bring up the flow of gas to Central Europe, thus increasing the number of suppliers and avoiding Russian and Iranian routes, territory and influence); the Trans-Anatolian pipeline (going through Turkish territory, supplying Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and ending up in the South of Austria); or even the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (going through Turkey and passing through Greece, Albania and ending up in Italy).


Obviously, the main goal is to massively reduce the dependence from Russian energetic resources. And this alone will have to imply a change of external policy from the Russian side, abandoning the bully stance for an eventually more friendly approach.

On the side of countries benefiting indirectly from the Caspian oil and gas, it’s also necessary to mention Ivanishvili’s Georgia: a vital corridor connecting Azerbaijan to Turkey, having in mind that all pipelines circumvent landlocked and border-locked Armenia. This last one is the obvious non-winner of the region. The region of Nagorno-Karabakh had a price to pay, and the ethnic-Armenian guerilla rebels in the mountains today periodically try to disrupt the oil and gas flows of the pipelines nearby, in a foolish vendetta attempt to seek a completely non-viable independence.


The ever-present threat of jihadist movements and radical Islam in a scenario of global security is naturally one of the main concerns in the North Caucasus, increasing even more the tensions in the region, where over than 50 ethnic groups rarely coexist in peace. The conflict in Chechnya is still fresh despite the reconstruction of Grozny and the social visits of American Hollywood stars that smile, wave and have drinks at the casino in the city center. This propaganda costs millions to the majority of Russian tax-payers, and they are not pleased.


Today though, and considering the constant bombings and the growing importance of the Dagestan based terrorist cell of Abdul-Jabar, the growing number of lone-wolf Islamic terrorists, the arrest of Bloody Roosevelt, the Mayor of Makhachkala Mr. Said Amirov (that had a rocket launcher in the backseat of his car and was allegedly targeting a Russian Government Official) and the immense commerce of illegal weapons in Russian territory (mostly run by Dagestani mafias), the focus of Russia’s internal security is in this region.


Now it’s just a matter of how well the Russian version of ‘Pax Romana’ can be established, and how effective it will continue to be. While in the Western side of the world there is a growing rush for ‘privacy rights’ in light of the alleged violations, which continue to create a fuss among the media. But how will agencies like the NSA continue to operate effectively in a framework of non-violation of one’s privacy? Where is the limit? And is there a limit if we are talking about our own security? Isn’t also the concept our global security the perfect excuse to lose privacy rights definitely? Russia’s pragmatism leaves it far beyond this philosophical doubt.

In an ultimate analysis it is impossible to have absolute security, because that would imply the absolute absence of freedom. Maybe it is inside this limit that a line must be drawn.