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John Daly

John Daly

Dr. John C.K. Daly is the chief analyst for Oilprice.com, Dr. Daly received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the School of Slavonic and East European…

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Boston Marathon Attacks, Chechnya and Oil – the Hidden U.S. Connection

Boston Marathon Attacks, Chechnya and Oil – the Hidden U.S. Connection

As Boston and U.S. security agencies congratulate themselves over the apparent neutralization of a pair of Chechens that bombed the Boston Marathon, troubling questions are beginning to arise.

First and foremost is, why a pair of Chechens, born in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, apparently committed the attack?

For possible answers, one must looks beyond the present and delve into Russia’s and the USSR’s past policies towards Chechnya, and since 1991, U.S. policy in the Caucasus, which since the 1991 implosion of the USSR had a single focus – the exploitation of the Caspian’s massive energy reserves.

It is a history that makes for deeply uncomfortable reading, but one that may eventually provide some answers to seemingly intractable questions.

After Iran transferred Chechnya to the Russian empire under the Treaty of Gulistan following the 1804-1813 Russo-Persian War, Russian troops entered the region to assert control, resulting in a long-drawn out and bitter campaign marked by numerous atrocities until Imam Shamil surrendered to the Russians in 1859, causing many Chechen Muslims to emigrate to the Ottoman Empire. Following the 1917 Russian revolution, Chechnya suffered the travails of the rest of the Soviet population until 23 February 1944, when Stalin ordered Chechnya’s population deported en masse to Soviet Central Asia on suspicions of them being traitors and working with Nazi forces. In eight days, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), predecessor to the Committee for State Security (KGB), forcefully deported 350,000 to 400,000 Chechens and 91,250 Ingush from the Caucasus, mainly to Central Asia, primarily Kazakhstan, but others as far as Kyrgyzstan and Eastern Siberia.

Soviet officials assessed that during 1944 to 1948, between 14.6% and 23.7% of the exiled population perished.

And many Chechens were swallowed up by the NVKD’s Gulag archipelago, but even there, their toughness and militancy set them apart. As Russian Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted his is three-volume study, The GuLAG Archipelago, "There was one nation which would not give in, would not acquire the mental habits of submission - and not just individual rebels among them, but the whole nation to a man. These were the Chechens... They had been treacherously snatched from their home, and from that day they believed in nothing... The years went by - and they owned just as little as they had to begin with. The Chechens never sought to please, to ingratiate themselves with the bosses; their attitude was always haughty and indeed openly hostile.”

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Fast forward to the 1991 dissolution of the breakup of the USSR.

Chechens subsequently fought two wars against Russian forces, the first from 1994 to 1996, and the second from October 1999 until early 2009, with both conflicts marked by violence and atrocities committed on both sides.

In 2007 Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Ramzan Kadyrov Chechnya’s new president. Two years later the American organization Freedom House included Chechnya in the "Worst of the Worst" list of most repressive societies in the world, together with Burma, North Korea and  China's Tibet.

But the question remains why, when the USSR was fragmenting, was Moscow so determined to retain Chechnya?

In a word –oil, for both its indigenous reserves and as the sole transit point for Azerbaijan’s rising exports, which Western companies were eagerly seeking to export to Western markets rather than via Russia.

Few today remember that Putin’s first job when appointed Prime Minister on 9 August 1999 by Russian President Boris Yeltsin was to build an oil pipeline bypassing Chechyna, as Transneft, Russia’s pipeline monopoly, controlled the Baku-Novorossiisk line, the sole export route for Azerbaijani “early” oil exports, which crossed 95 miles of Chechen territory, a region which had been at war with the Kremlin since 1994.  Following Putin’s appointment Yeltsin held a council of war over Dagestan and Putin made a rash promise that he could end a crisis caused by the incursion of 2,000 rebels from Chechnya into Dagestan in “a week and a half or two weeks.”

Work began on the bypass line on 26 October 1999. The conflict combined with other issues reduced Azeri exports via Baku-Novorossiisk in early 2000 to an average of only 10,000 barrels per day (bpd.)  In April 2000 construction finished on the $140 million, 204-mile Baku-Novorossiisk bypass via Dagestan to Tikhoretsk.  The bypass had a potential capacity of 120,000 bpd, but by then Azerbaijan already had other plans, having worked with neighboring Georgia to develop an alternative pipeline route to Georgia’s Black Sea port of Supsa, completely outside of Russian control.  When Yeltsin resigned on 31 December 1999 Putin became acting President and has continued to lead the Russian state ever since, eiher as Prime Minister or President.

For Putin, quite aside from issues of pride, An independent Chechnya could not only lead to a loss of revenue from the republic’s modest oil production (of such quality that Chechen oil was used to light lamps in the Vatican) and ruin plans to extract transit fees for Azeri “early oil,” but lead to a significant potential loss of Caspian reserves once the sea’s waters and seabed were divided, if Chechnya aligned itself with neighboring Dagestan.

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U.S. penetration of Azerbaijan’s and Kazakhstan’s energy sectors continued apace during the conflict.  As reported by EC-TACIS, for the period 1994-1999 the main sources of foreign direct investment in Azerbaijan were the United States with 28 percent, followed by Britain with 15 percent.  FDI in Azerbaijan exploded from only $30 million in 1994 to $827 million in 1999, about 17 percent of Azerbaijan's GDP, with approximately 90 percent of FDI concentrated in the country's hydrocarbons sector, while Kazakhstan FDI accounted for $1.6 billion in the same period, but which now exceeds $160 billion of foreign FDI. Russia was clearly losing the battle to develop Caspian energy, and an independent Chechen-Dagestani state would make Moscow's position untenable and hence had to be stopped at any cost. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney observed the year before Putin’s appointment, “I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.”


In 2005 the western consortium attempting to cut Russia out of the Caspian energy loop achived its goal. The $3.6 billion, one million barrel per day, 1,092-mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which ships Azeri Caspian oil to Turkey’s Mediterranean Ceyhan port, began operations in May 2005, transiting high-quality crude from Azerbaijan's offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields to Turkey's deep-water Mediterranean terminus at Ceyhan.

Accordingly, the Chechen conflict dovetailed perfectly not only into Washington’s plans, to bog down the Russian military in a long, drawn-out conflict in the Caucasus, but provide Western energy companies with an alternative route as Chechnya was slowly ground down by the Russian military.

Oil that would have otherwise moved northwards to Russia, providing lucrative transit fees.

Chechnya proved ground zero for both Western political and business interests.
All of the above history, virtually unknown in the U.S., is deeply known to every Chechen. The shadow war between Moscow and Washington for the Caspian’s energy riches saw Chechnya squarely caught in the middle, leaving the Chechen homeland virtually destroyed, something to remember when reading the increasingly contradictory news reports coming out of Washington about the blood shed in Boston by the Tsarnaev brothers, as the U.S. is hardly blameless about the carnage visited on their ancestral homeland.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Dave Thomas on April 23 2013 said:
    Two young men filled with hate by imams and clerics who sanction violence against infidels in the name of Allah, or the diatribe presented in this article.

    The authors diatribe is a textbook violation of Occam's Razor.

    Just to jump ahead, Lee Harvey acted alone John.
  • Brian Geraghty on April 23 2013 said:
    So let me understand this. The Chechens are conquered in an 19th Century war by the Russians. Then they are brutally oppressed by the Russians/Soviets from Stalin to Putin. However, since we in our national interest invested in neighboring regions in order to cut the Russians, who were also our enemy for a significant portion of this same time, out of oil revenues we are to blame for Chechnya's woes?
  • Gordon Steingart on April 23 2013 said:
    Great article. More evidence that our nations Military -Industrial Complex ,even when disguised , usually ends up costing the American taxpayers in blood and treasury.

    Why taxpayers must pay treasury with our government's involvement to enrich privately held foreign oil reserves makes no common sense.
    This is a good example why Defense dept. budgets have been so high .Every action taken by our government internationally has a consequence down the road . (even if it be over 30 years later)

    The synergy between government and private corporations ,both internationally and domestically must end . The former Allied Supreme Commander of WW2 and eventual President of the U.S. warned us of this sort of reaction to our countries international policies.

    It never seems to end.
  • Philip Branton on April 23 2013 said:
    Mr. Daly,

    When one reads your article and stops to think....how would the "actions" be any different for Afghanistan (Taliban) if the word OIL was replaced with Heroin Poppy..?? What chain of events get set in rotation when the worlds largest supplier of heroin is not producing heroin..?? Heroin going to Venezuela via Iranian Oil Tankers get "laundered" when Cocaine can't be swapped for the return transit. Would it not be interesting to read what Julian Assange has to offer concerning the Wikileaks banking ledgers..?? The Chechen transit fees are just the tip of the Dagestan dagger...!!
  • JAB on April 25 2013 said:
    Mr. Thomas and Geraghty, please retread Dr. Daly's article! I don't think he is attributing blame to the US for the actions of the two ethnic Chechan brothers who appear responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, OR for that matter, the political situation in Chechnia. But he is very succinctly providing the historical backdrop against which these two young men may have formed their resentments and beliefs about the role the US has had in Caspian affairs. I can tell you that I work with many young "Pakistanis" a generation removed from the forced migration of Muslim Indians to Pakistan, who harbor a deep hatred of India and the British. The sense of betrayal and loss is etched into their pyches reinforced by parents and grandparents who directly suffered tremendous loss. Many people in the press and as individuals following this story wonder, and cannot understand how on Earth two young men who had, by all appearances, become so "Americanized" commit such horrific acts against the nation who welcomed them. Dr. Daly's piece is the first thing I have read that provides some perspective, some inkling, of possible motive outside the usual "Muslim Extremist" characature.
  • Anton Krylov on May 31 2013 said:
    I was reading this article with an interest till the part about the role of the United States. Mr. Daly makes a broad accusation blaming the US for Chechen war and linking that war to acts of terror committed by Tsarnaeve brothers without a thorough analysis supported by serious research and sources. Note that he only dedicated one eighth of the article to make his case about the role of U.S. First of all, there is a problem with his logic. So let’s say U.S. companies didn’t invest in the region. Russian government still needed to control Chechnya in order to receive transit fees and oil revenue, no? Russians probably even had to fight harder since the fees and revenue would have been higher. Also, it is possible that a race to develop Caspian energy put some pressure on Putin, but should U.S. companies be blamed for that? Where were they supposed to invest? In destroyed Chechnya? Let us remember that it was Putin government that restricted foreign investment in its oil industry. This is no secret to anybody including Chechens. If Mr. Daly states, that Washington had plans to bog down the Russian military in a long, drawn-out conflict in the Caucasus, he should care to explain how U.S. government went about executing those plans. Did they supply Chechen rebels with weapons? Military consultants? Spy intelligence? I don’t believe so. It is possible that U.S. oil companies benefited to some extend from Chechen war. But in order to directly link that to Boston bombings one has to do a serious research analyzing all the facts and listing all the sources. Additionally, Mr. Daly states that, “All of the above history … is deeply known to every Chechen”. Really? Mr. Daly should care to prove that his version of history is known to every Chechen. As a former news reporter covering Russia for Russian Television International I never came across such sentiment among Chechens. When Chechen terrorist took hostages at a theater in Moscow in 2002, within hours they stated that they want to release foreign nationals including an American citizen who was in the theater. They explained that they want to do that because they are not at war with foreign countries. They are at war with Russian government.
    When Mr. Daly writes that “Tsarnaev brothers were born in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan”, he probably doesn’t realize that he contradicts himself during the course of his article. Tsarnaev brothers never lived in Chechnya. Furthermore, they are only half Chechen. Their mother is an Anvar. Furthermore, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly “told the FBI that [he and his brother] were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there.”
    Mr. Daly’s conclusions about U.S. role in Chechen war and linking that war to acts of terror committed by Tsarnaeve brothers with such little evidence would be unthinkable for a self-respected scholar, historian or journalist. But he is not one. Apparently, oilprice.com doesn’t care to seek scholars’ opinions instead relying on CEO’s of companies with undisclosed business interests.

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