on the silk road

A Frozen Conflict Shatters


Georgia Invades ‘Breakaway’ South Ossetia, Sparks ‘War’ with a determined Russia


DZHAVA, Georgia (AP) — Russia dispatched an armored column into the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia on Friday after Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, launched a surprise offensive to crush separatists. Witnesses said hundreds of civilians were killed.

The fighting, which devastated the capital of Tskhinvali, threatened to ignite a wider war between Georgia and Russia, and escalate tensions between Moscow and Washington. Georgia said it was forced to launch the assault because of rebel attacks; the separatists alleged Georgia violated a cease-fire.

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Azerbaijan Hails Fighting, Says Precedent for Reclaiming Karabakh by Force


BAKU–In a written statement, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry hailed as precedent setting Georgia’s attack on the unrecognized South Ossetian republic Friday, signaling the possibility that Azerbaijan might seek a similar course of action with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The statement described Georgia’s military offensive against South Ossetia as a positive precedent for countries seeking to use military force to restore “territorial integrity.”

“Georgia has proven that peaceful talks are not the only way to restore territorial integrity,” the statement said. “[Azerbaijan] has the right to return its lands by use of force.”

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Armenia Concerned About War in the Caucasus



The Armenian Foreign Ministry said official Yerevan is closely monitoring the situation and urging the conflicting parties to call a halt to military operations. Meanwhile,Armenia’s Defense Minister, Seyran Ohanian, was in Karabakh’s capital of Stepanakert on Friday where he said that the escalating situation in South Ossetia “must rally our people. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is independent but unrecognized as such. Official Baku maintains that it still belongs to Azerbaijan.

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West’s Energy Pipelines in Danger




TBILISI (TIMES)–The conflict that has erupted in the Caucasus has set alarm bells ringing because of Georgia’s pivotal role in the global energy market.

Georgia has no significant oil or gas reserves of its own but it is a key transit point for oil from the Caspian and central Asia destined for Europe and the US.


Crucially, it is the only practical route from this increasingly important producer region that avoids both Russia and Iran. 

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But Some Say West Wont Back Georgia


Georgia’s president is comparing Russia’s military actions today with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, or the Soviet intervention to crush Czechoslovakian liberalisation in the Prague Spring of 1968.

In both cases of course, the democracies of the West were unwilling or unable to contain aggression – and Mr Saakashvili is hoping to shame them into reacting more strongly this time around with those carefully chosen examples.

He is likely to be disappointed.


The best the US state department and the foreign ministries of Europe can hope for is a quick fix to end the violence and bring in humanitarian supplies, followed by some long-term commitment in Moscow and Tbilisi to some kind of dialogue.

With little thought having been given to the Caucasus region in recent times though, even achieving those limited goals is not going to be easy. 

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Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan Launch Joint Rail Link




KARS (Combined Sources)–The leaders of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan have launched a railway project between the three countries, building on links forged by gas and oil pipelines.  

At a railway station in the eastern Turkish border town of Kars (a historic Armenian town) the presidents of the three countries held a ground-breaking ceremony for the 290 million lira ($241.06 million) Turkish section of the railway, which circumvents Armenia.

The three are linked by the BP-led Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas line but trade links between Turkey and the Caucasus region are limited.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili and Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev placed three sections of railway track on a large map of the region in a symbolic launch of the project as confetti showered down.

“With this project the historic Silk Road is being reinvigorated,” Gul said in a speech. “The project is open to all countries in the region who want to contribute to good neighborly relations, peace and prosperity.”  

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Turkey, Iran Gas Deal Likely Soon

ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey and Iran will probably sign a natural gas deal during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s expected visit to the Turkish capital, Ankara, an Iranian official in Turkey said Tuesday, August 5. Turkish officials have yet to confirm the deal.

Ahmad Noorani, in charge of economic affairs at the Iranian Embassy in Ankara, said the two countries agreed in May on the construction of a new gas pipeline to ensure a steady flow to Turkey, which suffers frequent cuts in gas from Iran during wintertime.

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Ethnographic Map of Caucasus


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