The Russian military, in expectation of an imminent attack on Iran, is quietly poised for a possible, strategically timed assault to re-establish its dominance of the Caucuses and its oil resources. Russia is not going to accept Western control of the entire Middle East and will seize the opportunity another war for the US provides Russia. Russia is betting that during a war with Iran, the US will be unable to deal with other contingencies and will use this window to secure its vital regional interests. If the US cuts into Russia’s sphere of influence respective of Iran, Russia is now fully prepared to deal and equal setback to Washington in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
In preparation, Russia has secretly rearmed and conducted a military build-up along the border with Georgia. Supporting this is the fact crack Russian military units have indeed remained in the border region of Georgia after completion of the Caucus 2012 military exercise much as in the months prior to the outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia in 2008. The geopolitical chessboard in the region is now heavily stacked in Russia’s favor and it needs only a Western attack on Iran to put the offensive in motion. When the war with Iran begins, Russia is already deployed and ready to conduct a multi-front offensive supported by its forces stationed in the Southwest of Armenia and from the Black Sea coast via naval assets mobilized in Abkhazia. This war would be launched under the pretext of supporting Iran and preventing Western exploitation of a strategically vital region. However, the main target would be the oil terminals along the coast and political control of the vital oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the region. In the process of securing Russia dominance of oil resources in the region, Russia would cut off of major transportation hubs and other critical infrastructure in Georgia, most likely roll-over Tbilisi, and ultimately, march into Azerbaijan with help from its Caspian Naval Fleet.
This will result in a major conflagration in the region stretching right to the northern border of Iran. What must be understood is that if Iran runs the risk of falling under Western control, Russia will be forced to go all in and this could even bring in China. This is the worst of worst case scenarios and is just one more example of why a war with Iran is a horrible gamble. Russia simply cannot afford Western control of nearly the entire East-West oil and gas transport corridor.
Our analysts would like to think that all of the beltway whiz-kid analysts and war planners have taken into account the implications of this, but history has conclusively shown that our policy makers, their think tanks, and their muzzled analysts will get it wrong every time. In short, it is critical to point out that a loss of Azerbaijan to Russia would totally turn US and Israeli war plans upside down and deal the US a massive strategic defeat. Without Azerbaijan, the US loses its strategic lily-pad for air strikes, supply staging, and logistics support. The US has clandestinely invested millions and built-up Azerbaijan just for this Iran War contingency and the Russians have taken offense to this American meddling in its political sphere. For those not familiar with oil and gas issues, the loss of Azerbaijan also means a complete re-engineering of the oil and gas pipeline politics. The US and its oil companies would lose billions of dollars and would no longer have ready access to a slew of already functional pipelines connected to Europe. Russia on the other hand would reap massive financial and political rewards for monopolizing control of most of the oil and gas supplies to Europe.
The US cannot afford to forget about Russia’s influence still present in Central Asia and how that will play into access to logistics bases. War with Iran will obliterate America’s strategic advantage in the region if Russia decides to attack. Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s much, MUCH larger in both land mass and population. Iran is also much more modern and has a legitimate, relatively professional military poised to strike if attacked. Given America’s past “success” with wars in the region, combined with an already overtaxed US military on the verge of downsizing, this would be an absolute disaster. The US Navy cannot just air drop guided missile cruisers and ballistic missile submarines into the Caspian and won’t risk a bigger war with Russia even if it could. While the US may very well retain control of the Straits of Hormuz, the US runs the risk of leaving its Northern flank totally exposed. Russia clearly has the upper hand there and is ready to exploit it to its maximum benefit.
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By Guiles Hendrik