|Russia and the CIS News Digest
U.S. Officers', Diplomats' Letter Publicized in Russia
An Aug. 18 RIA Novosti wire, headlined "Retired Military Men and Diplomats Call on Bush Not to Attack Iran," brought broad publicity in Russia, to the open letter of Gen. Joseph Hoar and others, released the previous day. The wire quoted the letter's authors on the "catastrophic" consequences of attacking Iran, and noted their call for direct negotiations. An analysis by Alexander Tumanov on the KM.ru site linked the letter with Seymour Hersh's article, "Watching Lebanon: Washington's interests in Israel's war," in the Aug. 21 New Yorker magazine, as part of a pattern of growing opposition inside leading U.S. circles, to the Bush-Cheney war policy. Such Russian coverage of U.S. factions is quite unusual, and it comes in the week when First Channel TV featured Lyndon LaRouche's warnings about plans to spread the war.
Menshikov Cites LaRouche, EIR On World War Danger
An article titled "The Roots of the Mideast War," by Prof. Stanislav Menshikov in the Aug. 18 issue of the Moscow weekly Slovo newspaper, incorporated a translation into Russian of most of Jeffrey Steinberg's Aug. 11 EIR article, warning of a broader war. That is the same article that was featured on the Vremya TV show this week.
Menshikov compared the kidnapping incident that precipitated the fighting in Lebanon, with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke at Sarajevo in June 1914 that triggered World War I. "That is the way big wars often begin," when "elites try to continue their policies by military means." The persistent frictions in the region regularly generate sparks, wrote Menshikov, but the reason for the explosion of full-scale combat this summer lies rather with the string of geopolitical failures, experienced by the Bush team: in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and with its ongoing efforts to force Iran to back down on its nuclear program: "Put these three factors together, and it turns out that a Middle East war might seem to be a convenient way to create a situation, in which an American strike against Iran, and simultaneously against Syria, could be justified by the need to defend Israel from 'joint attack' by Hezbollah and its two allies. A victorious preemptive war might help establish U.S. dominance in the region, while shoring up the shaky position of the Republican Party, headed by Bush, in the November U.S. Congressional elections. Such intentions are being quite openly discussed in the American press."
As his main example of such discussion, Menshikov cited Steinberg's Aug. 11 EIR article, "Will Bush's 'October Surprise' Lead to World War III?" Included was the lead of that article, a quotation from Lyndon LaRouche's Jan. 11, 2006 Washington speech, about the scenario for the "discovery" of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.
In the remainder of his article, Menshikov cited Anatol Lieven on the inability of the United States in Vietnam, the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland, or Israel in relation to Hezbollah, to defeat an irregular military force. Lieven calls for Israel to negotiate with Hezbollah and Hamas.
Menshikov wrote that the West is trying to ignore the diplomatic capabilities of Russia in this situation: "Washington clearly fears the reestablishment of Russia's political influence in the Middle East. It will turn to Moscow for help, only when it is understood that its strategy has been defeated.... Just like in Vietnam. "Shall we see that at all?"
EurAsEc Leaders Discuss Economic Integration
The Presidents of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc) met Aug. 17 in Sochi, southern Russia. Addressing the assembled Presidents of Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (Armenia and Ukraine are observers), Russian President Putin stressed their progress toward creating a customs union, and support for "a common energy market within EurAsEc." Particular attention went to developing hydroelectric power in Central Asia, which had been discussed in the Central Asian Cooperation Organization, now merged with EurAsEc. Also on the agenda, Putin said, was the proposal for nuclear-fuel-cycle centers under IAEA supervision; and, ties between EurAsEc and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (which Uzbekistan has now rejoined).
Putin reported that Russia and Kazakstan have signed three memoranda on joint ventures in the nuclear sphere. They also signed freight transit agreements. At the public part of bilateral talks with Putin on Aug. 15, Kazakstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev reported that 38 cooperation documents, prepared earlier for the Single Economic Space, "can be adapted for EurAsEc and used to launch real integration."
Russia, Ukraine Agree on Moderating Gas Price Hikes
Unlike what the defeated Prime-Ministerial candidate Yulia Tymoshenko intended, the new Prime Minister of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych will not move to tear up last January's agreement on natural gas prices and pipeline tariffs for gas shipped from Russia to, and across, Ukraine. Yanukovych met with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Fradkov, on the sidelines of the Sochi summit of EurAsEc, Aug. 17. They agreed that there will be no price increase on Russian natural gas, sold to Ukraine, for the rest of 2006. They established a framework for working out price increases to be phased in during 2007, as opposed to one abrupt hike. The deal will allow Ukraine to fill its underground storage facilities before winter. Fradkov said that more detailed talks will follow soon.
Incident Near Kuriles Boosts Russia-Japan Tension
Harshly worded diplomatic notes were exchanged between Moscow and Tokyo Aug. 16, after a Japanese crab fisherman was shot dead by a Russian patrol boat near the southern Kurile Islands. The Russians were on an anti-poaching patrol. Moscow claimed violation of its territorial waters by the fishing ship, which Tokyo denies.
Recently announced Russian plans to step up Federal government investment in the four disputed Kurile Islands have angered Tokyo, as well.
On Aug. 17, Russian Navy exercises began off nearby Kamchatka Peninsula.
UK Unleashes Home-Brewed Islamic Militants in Central Asia
The London-headquartered Hezb ut-Tahrir organization has once again become very active in the Central Asia region, according to Tajik and Kyrgyz authorities, cited by Interfax Aug. 18. Hezb ut-Tahrir is identified by the British authorities as an Islamic proselytizing movement, which wants to establish an Islamic caliphate from the Caspian Sea to North Africa. The most active terrorist group operating in Central Asia today is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which recruits chiefly from the Hezb ut-Tahrir.