Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In one of the most cogent essays on the geopolitical instability of the Georgian-Russian conflict, Melik Kaylan, writing in the Wall Street Journal today implored readers to better understand the narrow land bridge between the Black Sea and Caspian Seas that comprises the lower Caucasus region, which includes Georgia and Azerbaijan. "Look at a map...," he said. At issue is the Baku-Tblisis-Ceyhan oil pipeline that runs through both former Russian-controlled countries and the ability to supply oil to the west without interference from Moscow. In what he called the "Grand Game" is the desire by the Russian Federation to exert much more control over the Middle East by "Findlandizing" the former Soviet republics turned independent countries. By doing so, they control regions of rich natural resources and direct access to Iran and Afghanistan. These are chilling thoughts but best understood with a better appreciation of regional geography.