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    next of Bush's oil dreams...the pipeline is done now all they need is a puppet gov to make it all come together.

    Anti-govt Feeling Simmers in Azerbaijan
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    May 22, 2005

    Police have broken up a banned anti-government rally in Azerbaijan, arresting and beating dozens of protesters as part of a crackdown on the opposition linked to the opening of a major US-backed oil pipeline.

    Kerimli, whose party took part in the rally along with two other opposition parties and members of the Yokh youth movement -which is modelled on movements that helped topple the regimes in Georgia and Ukraine- said 300 people were arrested. According to official data, only 45 were arrested.

    Authorities refused to allow the rally on the grounds that it fell too close to the opening ceremony for the $US4 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan  (BTC) pipeline, which US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was due to attend on Wednesday.

    The rally was preceded by a crackdown on the opposition in which 30 people were arrested over the past few days.

    The opposition alleged the arrests were an attempt to derail the protest rally, which it called to demand a fair vote in parliamentary elections in November.

    Norway's ambassador to Azerbaijan, Steinar Gil, attended the rally and said the reaction of the authorities to the protest discredited Aliyev.

    "I saw harsh violence at the hands of the police, I saw a bloodied man; these people are not a threat," he said of the protesters.

    "Azerbaijan had the chance to show that it was a normal country with democratic principles," Gil said. He also said it would be an embarrassment if opposition figures remained in detention when a host of foreign dignitaries attended the pipeline's opening.

    Azerbaijan's prosecutor-general, Zakir Garalov, earlier defended the crackdown.

    "Those who think they can violate public order on the eve of the celebration are mistaken," he said. "The state's interests are above those of political functionaries," he added, referring to opposition figures.

    The BTC pipeline, which will ship Caspian oil to the Mediterranean, was built with financial support from the US. The British oil company BP holds a 30 per cent stake in the consortium running the pipeline. Other consortium members include Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, Amerada Hess, ConocoPhillips, Eni, Inpex, Itochu, Statoil, TPAO and Unocal.

    Tensions between the authorities and the opposition were approaching boiling point ahead of the vote in November, which the Council of Europe described as a crossroads where "we may become witnesses either to fair and free elections or a bloody confrontation between thousands."


    USA plans to expand military presence in Azerbaijan close to Iran
    LINK
    13-04-05 US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Azerbaijan (an Asian republic of the former USSR) on April 12th. It became Rumsfeld's second visit to the republic in four months -- that is why it can hardly be treated as a formal visit of no particular importance.
    One may probably distinguish two major reasons, which make the US administration develop active cooperation with the regime of the incumbent Azeri President, Ilham Aliyev. It is worth mentioning, though, that Mr Aliyev does not match the "democratic standards" of the US Department of State.
    The first reason includes the transportation of the Caspian oil and the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which is directly connected with Mr Rumsfeld's department.
    Secondly, the USA is interested in establishing mobile army bases on the territory of Azerbaijan, which is stipulated in the plan to re-deploy US troops in Europe and Asia.

    As for the oil pipeline is concerned, there has been a certain plan elaborated for the implementation of security measures. The USA is ready to assign not less than $ 100 mm during the coming ten years for the development of the so-called Caspian Guard (founded in the autumn of 2003). Guaranteeing security to the pipeline, which is currently undergoing the construction process, will be the prime goal of the Caspian Guard.
    The Caspian Guard will represent a network of police detachments and special military units in the Caspian region. These troops will be capable of showing efficient reaction to states of emergency, including attacks against oil objects. The European command of the Defence Department in Stuttgart, Germany, coordinates the efforts of various departments and provides the training for military men to defend the new pipeline.

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