Iran Strike Could Destabilize Caucasus, Energy Transits

Source: Atlantic Sentinel

If Israel, unilaterally or with support from the United States, attacks Iran to disrupt its nuclear program, it could have the unintended consequence of destabilizing the Caucasus and emboldening Russia.

Last week, the European Union Monitoring Mission in the area reported a “buildup of Russian Federation armed personnel” along the South Ossetian border with Georgia. The former Georgian province, which has a majority ethnic Russian population, seceded in 1990 and was recognized as an independent state by Moscow after a brief war in 2008.

The increase in Russian troop presence may have to do with the fact, as Robert Bruce Ware writes at Antiwar, that Russia expects a strike against Iran before the end of this year and sees an opportunity to strengthen its position in the region.

Russia, for its part, has accused Georgia of fortifying the border, apparently laying the groundworks for what could serve as an excuse for an invasion. But the aim isn’t Georgia, as much as one can imagine that Russian president Vladimir Putin would welcome the chance to humiliate his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili, again.

Neighboring Armenia, which has poor relations with the more pro-Western Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, depends heavily on Iran for oil and gas imports and could see an influx of refugees which will exacerbate tensions in the South Caucasus. Armenian energy supplies will likely be cut if there is war while Azerbaijan, which is engaged in its own power struggles with Iran, could take advantage of the situation to reclaim the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Under such circumstances, Ware believes that Russia will uphold its obligations to Armenia under the Collective Security Treaty Organization and cut a military corridor through Georgia to be able to take control of the oil and natural gas pipelines running west from the Caspian Sea. “If this is combined with fighting in the Persian Gulf, energy prices may spike.”

Because Russia controls the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, the West’s only other energy corridor from rich Caspian hydrocarbon fields, Russian control of nearly all Caspian energy, together with fighting in the Persian Gulf, could lead to unprecedented energy costs and economic instability in the West.

 

Read More: Atlantic Sentinel

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