The Guardian May 16, 2001


Yugoslavia: The name of the game is OIL!

by Karen Talbot

The Bush administration, with its spectacular connections to oil and energy 
corporations, is telling the US people they need more oil, gas and nuclear 
power to meet the so-called "energy crisis". It is becoming unmistakable 
that events in the Balkans, including the recent terrorist attacks in 
Macedonia, are directly related to the drive for ever-greater sources of 
oil and profits.

Terrorist assaults in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by 
the so-called "National Liberation Army" (NLA) have resumed and greatly 
escalated in recent days with major ambushes including against Macedonian 
security forces.

The FYROM government troops have responded with a major offensive to 
counter the terrorists. The ethnic Albanian terrorists have been engaging 
in fierce attacks in the rugged mountains of Macedonia, not only targeting 
Serbs and Macedonians, but also Albanians who oppose them.

Their actions have been criticised by Western powers as threatening to 
ignite a wider Balkan conflict. But is there a hidden agenda?

Although the US administration says it opposes the recent terrorism in this 
region, it has not stopped these attacks which are initiated from the 
Serbian province of Kosovo. This, despite the overwhelming KFOR presence, 
including US forces based at the huge military base, Camp Bondsteel in 
Kosovo, conveniently located in this vital area.

It is curious, therefore, that NATO Secretary-General George Robertson 
described the ethnic Albanian NLA fighters as "a bunch of murderous thugs 
whose objective is to destroy a democratic Macedonia and who are using 
civilians as human shields." Are they not thugs when engaged in similar 
behaviour in Kosovo?

Trans-Balkan oil pipeline

It is now becoming clearer than ever that one primary reason the US has 
been so involved in Kosovo, Bosnia, and throughout Yugoslavia, has much to 
do with the immense wealth to be gleaned from oil.

Construction of a major "Trans-Balkan" pipeline is underway from Burgas in 
Bulgaria on the Black Sea, through Macedonia, to the Albanian Adriatic port 
of Vlore. It is being built by the US-owned Albanian-Macedonia-Bulgarian 
company (AMBO) and is scheduled to be operational by 2005.

All of this has to do with the enormously rich petroleum fields of the 
Caspian Sea basin. In order to get that oil to market, one of the best 
routes is to pipe it to the Black Sea, ship it in tankers across the Black 
Sea, and then pipe it again across the Balkans to the Adriatic Sea.

This by-passes the treacherous narrow Bosporous Straits near Istanbul, 
which Turkey claims could not safely accommodate the heavy tanker traffic 
from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

The AMBO Trans-Balkan pipeline "will make all countries from the Caspian 
Sea to the Balkans politically and economically dependent on the US", 
writes "Global Intelligence Updates" (Jan 14, 2001).

Journalist Richard Norton-Taylor, writing in the [London] "Guardian" (March 
5, 2001), put it this way: "While the US and NATO  and now the EU  hold 
out the prospect of untold wealth for the Caucasian states of the former 
Soviet Union, the West will also have an important economic stake in 
Albania and Macedonia ...

"The implications for Kosovo, a Serbian province with an overwhelming 
ethnic Albanian population, and for Macedonia, with armed groups from 
Kosovo stirring up trouble among the ethnic Albanian population, are 
potentially immense."

General Michael Jackson, who eventually took over command of KFOR in 
Kosovo, when speaking of Macedonia, said: "[We] will certainly remain here 
a long time so that we can also guarantee the security of the energy 
corridors which traverse this country."

Bush administration ties

It comes as no surprise that the AMBO pipeline is being built by 
Halliburton  Bush's Vice President, Dick Cheney's old company!

The oil giants already moving into place to operate under the umbrella of 
AMBO are Texaco, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, Agip and TotalElFina.

Interestingly, the gargantuan Camp Bondsteel, was also built by 
Halliburton. It is the largest US military base constructed since Vietnam. 
Furthermore, the troops stationed in the Balkans are being serviced by 
Halliburton.

Such a massive project as the Trans-Balkan pipeline requires enormous 
amounts of US government money in the form of investment guarantees from 
the Export-Import Bank, loans from the World Bank, and other backing.

It needs the sword to march along with the dollar, even if that sword is 
wielded by surrogate forces. It needs NATO troops and the massive US "Fort" 
Bondsteel in the "frontier" outpost of Kosovo, to protect the investments.

Europe-US rivalry

The European Union, with Germany leading the way, since the early 1990s has 
been projecting several corridors not only as energy corridors, but to 
provide a vast complex of communications  highways, railroads, airports, 
maritime ports and rivers  critical to the economy and European corporate 
profits.

These plans have created one of a number of substantial rivalries between 
the US and the EU with the US balking at several of the pipeline and 
corridor plans that would carry oil from the Caspian and Russia, (including 
through Ukraine) into Europe.

This competition has been reflected in recent years in differences over 
Kosovo, Bosnia, and Macedonia, among other disputes. However, it appears 
that the AMBO pipeline will give the US control over a considerable amount 
of the oil coming into Europe from the Caspian basin.

Greater Albania

The goal of the ongoing terrorism led by the KLA has been, and now is 
openly proclaimed to be, the establishment of a "Greater Albania". The only 
time such an entity ever existed was under fascist rule during World War 
II. This objective is again being espoused by the neo-fascists of today.

The agony of the people of Yugoslavia who were steadily bombed by the US 
and NATO for 78 days and were hard hit by the most severe economic 
sanctions for years, coupled with the fragmenting of the former Yugoslavia, 
has to be viewed against the backdrop of corporate profits, particularly 
oil profits.

The giant oil companies continue to be deeply involved in most of the 
conflicts in the world including in efforts to destroy national 
sovereignty, break up nations, Balkanise and create tiny "emirates" and 
"banana republics".

More often than not, the US Government and its military policies back them 
up. In the case of the southern Balkans, the intent may be to establish a 
"Greater Albania" to advance the interests of the oil conglomerates.

* * *
Abridged from the People's Weekly World newspaper of the Communist Party USA.

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