"Shadow CIA' founder about the time Karabakh conflict will be settled"

"Shadow CIA' founder about the time Karabakh conflict will be settled"

Editorial note: George Friedman is a world famous geopolitical expert. Like most of his young colleagues, Friedman devoted the beginning of his geopolitical career to the problem of Soviet-American relations. In the 1980s Friedman wrote a number of research works on the topic of global military balance and nuclear parity. In 1994 George Friedman founded the Center of Geopolitical Studies under the Louisiana state university dealing with strategic forecasting. In 1996 Friedman founded a private intelligence agency STRATFOR which is often called ‘shadow CIA’. In May 2015, he quit the organization and is now heading private intelligence and analytical organization ‘Geopolitical Futures’. He is the author of a number of books, including ‘America’s secret war’, ‘The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School’, ‘The Coming War with Japan’, ‘The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21th Century’ and others.

Azeri.Today presents an exclusive interview with George Friedman, head of the Center for Strategic Forecasts ‘Geopolitical Futures’ and founder of famous organization ‘Stratfor’.

- Mr. George Friedman, thank you for having agreed to give an interview to our portal. Let me ask you how long will the confrontation between the United States and Russia last?

There is no real confrontation. Ukraine has become a frozen conflict while Russia does not have the ability to threaten Eastern Europe. The Syrian confrontation does not involve fundamental interests of either Russia or the United States. Therefore, the confrontation is more rhetoric than combative. The most important question at this point is the stability of Russia in the face of severe economic problems caused by the decline in the price of oil. Obviously Russia wishes to compensate for this internal weakness with foreign activity, but in the end the ability of Russia to sustain its foreign posture depends on the health of its economy.

- In your book you are writing about Russia's collapse in 2020-2030s. How do you see this collapse happen? What has prompted such a conclusion?

- I believe we are now seeing the early indicators. Russia has not developed a comprehensive economy but remains dependent on oil, whose price is not controlled by Russia. Therefore, it is very vulnerable. The Soviet Union deteriorated under the pressure of low energy prices and increased defense spending. Russia is less robust than the Soviet Union was, and it is suffering from the same problem.

- Does it mean that Russia will lose its positions in the post-Soviet space? Right?

- It means that as the economy weakens, regions of Russia will not only become poorer, but also less dependent on Moscow. So the center will fragment creating a very unstable situation.

- Meanwhile, a few years ago the report 'Global trends 2025: A transformed world' by the National Intelligence Council of the United States predicted the weakening of Washington's dominating role in economic and military spheres. In line with the document, developed by hundreds of experts worldwide, China will become the world's second economy by 2025, taking the leading positions in military sphere, while Russia is doomed to become the fifth world economy in 20 years. What can you say about this report?

- I don't agree with the CIA estimate. First, the US is now about 25 percent of the world economy. Second, it controls the global sea lanes. Third, the US has the only global military capability. The Chinese economy has weakened dramatically since 2008 and from the decline of its exports. The Chinese are still struggling to gain control of their regional oceans. And China has no global military capability. It is a serious power but not close to overtaking the US. In addition, China is an extremely poor country. About a billion Chinese in the interior live in a much poorer condition than those along the coast. As for Russia I view them as much weaker than that. It is important to look at power objectively, rather than in terms of passing issues.

- You have stated in your book that the Third World War will be unleashed by Turkey and Japan, who together with their allies will rise against the United States and the Polish bloc. You do not mention Russia and China in this war. Will these big powers keep out of the world war?

- I believe that Russia and China are both declining powers. The weakness of China is shown in the fact that Xi had to impose a dictatorship and a purge to maintain Party control. This is not a sign of strength. It is my view in the book that Russia and the US would have a confrontation followed by Russian decline, while China’s great expansion could not be sustained. Therefore, countries on the periphery of these countries--Japan, Turkey and Poland-- would emerge as major powers.

- You wrote that by 2050 Turkey will turn into a big military power of the world, expand its influence in Europe, while Russia's positions will weaken. As you know, Turkey is the strategic ally of Azerbaijan. Growth of Turkey's influence may have a positive effect on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. Can we hope for the resolution of the conflict in Azerbaijan's favor in period of growing role of influence of Turkey in Europe?

- I think that Turkey will have to weather the crisis it is now in, and then will begin its upward surge. I think one of the first issues it will have to address is its relationship with Armenia, and in this context the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be addressed. It is interesting in this context to note the growing equality between Russia and Turkey in dealing with each other, and the attempt of Russia to use the Armenia and the N-K issue to unsuccessfully gain favor with Turkey.

- And the last question. What policy do you think Trump's administration will pursue on the South Caucasus, particularly on Azerbaijan?

- The Trump administration will not raise many of the barriers to cooperation with Azerbaijan that were put in place under the Obama administration. In many ways Trump’s administration will be less ideological. But it must still determine its priorities in foreign policy. It is not clear how many resources he will devote to ISIS, how much to Russia or China. The attention to Azerbaijan will vary depending on these decisions that have not yet been addressed. But certainly Azerbaijan can expect a reduction in the tensions that have been present over the past 8 years.

Seymur Mammadov
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