This is only an ad-hoc speculation and my only source is - believe it or not - a tale-telling Mobile's ad in New York Times on June 6 (op-ed section), CNN news and other public stuff, plus my sick brains. Everything is in timing...

"Now when Mobil got what it wanted from Kazakhs: 25 % stake in Tengiz oil-field AND license to open gas stations, AND to sell their products and build power stations there, war in Chechenya is no longer serving the American corporate interest (on the contrary: it may harm the American candidate in the Russian elections), and we may see it soon over. Wanna bet? Case of beer that Yeltsin is going to move out of Chechenya before elections and win."

I wrote this (Echo, NPQ, Molecular Civil War) exactly two days before Russian negotiators signed an agreement - on June 9 - to withdraw its troops from Chechenya before the end of August... ...there was only three days between Mobil happily announcing its acquisition of Kazakhstan and the Russians pronouncing the end of the war in Chechenya.

Pipeline RouteKazakh government caved in this May, "after more than a year of detailed study and intense negotiations", as it says in a Mobil ad in the New York Times on Jun 6, and after more than a year of war in Chechenya (the ad however doesn't even mention Chechenya), which basically shut off the oil-pipeline (this is plain from the image that is part of the ad) that takes Tengiz oil to Novorossiysk harbor, debilitating Kazakh's economy which heavily depends on oil exports.

Mobil agreed to build a NEW PIPELINE which is going to bypass Chechenya. They agreed to that to sweeten the deal: it is also a 900 million dollars construction project which will employ thousand of Russian construction workers.

They disclosed all this shamelessly in New York Times. They didn't mention Chechenya, but map is tale telling enough. Mobil looks forward to a long and vigorous partnership with Kazakhstan. The roots for this growth are strong and healthy, they say.

Of course the war in Chechenya would not be possible without Yeltsin's wholehearted cooperation, so he has to be rewarded now (and he is going to be re-elected).

The Srebrenica story is surviving another interesting twist lately: not only that the U.N. have been complicit, but also the U.S. might have been complicit (which by default made U.N. complicit) with the Serb advance on Srebrenica. Mladic took Srebrenica after Croatian Army took Pakrac. It was as if 'somebody' gave a signal to both Milosevic and Tudjman that if Serbs give up the struggle in Croatia, they'd be generously rewarded with territory in Bosnia. When Srebrenica fell, a wave of outrage with Serbs suddenly rolled through the Western (particularly American) press. The U.S. started closing in on its Western allies asking for NATO air-strikes. Loosing on of its "Safe Havens" the U.N. took up the blame (well, that is why we have them, don't we). Organizations like Safe Haven Relief funded by the likes of Freedom House just spawned out of nowhere; CIA took nice sattelite pictures of every move Serbs did in Srebrenica.. ..and didn't release them for three weeks, all the way until The New York Times printed that two F-18s helped Croatian forces to subdue Krajina.

Eventually this series of events discredited the U.N. operations in former Yugoslavia, established the U.S. as the only rightful leader (which is exactly the role the U.S wanted to play in this as in any other game), and blatantly showed Balkan leaders their place in the game (when Holbroke seated them for dinner in a hangar at the Dayton Air-Force Base just next to the parked F-117 and a few cruise missiles). It did work, so we should not be screaming foul now. It is just unfortunate that the same mindgames will now apply to the implementation of the civilian part of the Dayton Agreement, which is still headed by Europeans, so the U.S. is not really interested in making it work (yet both Holbroke and Christopher wrote in major newsmagazines how 'all three parties to the Dayton agreement are not enough committed to implementation of civilian accords', without much sympathy for Carl Bildt). Of course the European powers pursue their own agendas which have nothing in common with the interests of Bosnian people, too. The cold war between the U.S. (with large and affluent, voting Croatian emigre community) and the U.K. (which ruling party highest ranking members received generous contributions from Slobodan Milosevic's proxies), did not damage no houses in either the U.S. or the U.K. (or women raped, or kids massacred, or where are those floods of refugees from London or New York?). In such wonderfully enacted "New World Order" the U.N. can be expected not to work: they are what we made of them.

The story of this year's award winning human rights film Calling The Ghosts is, to put it succinctly, about the rape as a weapon of war. Two women, a Bosnian Croat and a Bosnian Muslim, both from Prijedor, both lawyers, tell their gruesome stories of incarceration in concentration camp Omarska in a rather grey tone of their profession. There is no narration. Yet the film flows seamlessly, because the film makers obtained footage of every period in life of two heroes. The film actually take us to Omarska. Pictures show everything short of actual act of rape. The message is simple: those who raped, as well as those who nudged them to do so, should be promptly brought to the War Crimes Tribunal. The complex circle in which Bosnian Serb Army used mass rape as a weapon against the Muslim population has to be broken. And in doing so the film unintentionally develops subliminal plot: Serbs exist only as an enemy - predominantly male - species and Serbia does not appear at all; Bosnia exists only as a place where bad things (that Serbs do to Muslims and Croats) happen and Croatia is a local refuge where people (Croats and Muslims, which are composed predominantly of women, children and elderly) seek (and get) protection from barbaric Serb male rapists in Bosnia. It is almost too good to be true.

A few years ago such a "side-effect" would make human-rights vegetarians scowl at the film for political reasons, while today the same political reasoning (although new political reasons are in the game) encouraged them to present that film with a Nestor Almendros award. Film makers are healthy aware and kind of worried of that. Still, they believe that the more global, the more general, the more far reaching film's message, fighting the war, destruction and violence against women, will outlast the contemporary political one.

Yesterday, Mandy threw a barbecue party at her roof on Bowery. A strange mixture of South Africans and former Yugoslavs and all kinds of other New Yorkers that included at least three film directors from Zagreb (all of them can easily fool you, Mek more than others since he is an Ethiopian) and a Macedonian filmmaker with a near-Oscar experience. Visnja told me a story about the movie she wants to make: a heroin addicted heroine is at the center of action (which then develops around her while she slowly withers to oblivion). Visnja brought with her an actress-writress-model from Detroit whose name was Cher, not Chair, as I was becoming gradually instructed. Sharon was just in back from India and had to have lies taken out of her huge hair (several people worked shifts to accomplish that task). And Jo-Marc, whose present daytime job is to "make the cyberspace a safer place for Sony" as he puts it, was playing a good South African scout, and made barbecue to work. I mean it is amazing how difficult is to make fire. There was wind. There was a little rain. But on the other hand we had this magic self-inflaming coal and lighter fluid and lighters and all sorts of hi-tech fire-making equipment unavailable to lets say our buddies in Pleistocene. How did they make fire? How didn't my ancestors starve to death? Jo-Marc thinks that our ancestors were the ones who did the cave-paintings letting other folks care about making fire. Yeah, that seems about right.

Tony, a musician from Macedonia, who left Yugoslavia nine years ago to avoid going to army, a deserter was met by Adnan and Faruk, who joked how they are now Bosnian deserters. They confirmed to me the stories how Haris Silajdzic, a former prime minister of Bosnia and likely presidential candidate, was indeed beaten by hard-core Alija's SDA supporters in Bihac, while the security guys watched (imagine the joy seeing Secret Service watching while Clinton aides beat the shit out of dissenting Clinton's Cabinet minister). What do you think is the biggest issue in Bosnia today? Housing? No. Infrastructure? No. Industry? Nay. Food? Neee. THE FLAG. Bosnia has its own flag (coat of arms with lilies), but the Bosnian-Croat federation still has no flag. Both sides of the federation (Bosnian and Croatian) believe that they NEED a flag for the federation. What would be a federation without a flag, huh? However, Bosnia, of course, wants its own flag with lilies to become the flag of federation, and Croats would, obviously, like that federation has a distinct flag. How would this one look like: it would look like Croatian (red-white-blue) only without the checkerboard coat-of-arms in the middle, and with the green (reflecting the Muslim color of Bosnia, perhaps, huhuhu) stripe instead of middle white. Nobody asks Serbs for anything any more, since they disagree with everything anyway, but I bet they'd have their own idea about the flag: they'd probably agree with Croats, only they'd have flag run red-blue-green to reflect their red-blue-white flag. Adnan and Faruk would vote for Alija over the flag issue if they are in Bosnia. Here they won't bother to vote. Those of you, however, who are Bosnian refugees and will like to vote call 1-800-92-BOSNA.

Milan brought the case of Samuel Adams he lost to me on a bet. He was probably drunk when he challenged me to a race around the Central Park reservoir. That was an easy beer. Eh, I am looking for more offers, anybody?

Jelena, a peace activist globe-trotter actress from Belgrade told us stories of travails through Bosnian Serb controlled territories.

And the fire did not go off until 5 am, when I had to pour water over. Hi-tech coal calmly continued to burn and barbecue shrimps through the short summer shower.

Who is Emir Kusturica? He is a great Bosnian soccer player (he almost went pro in his youth) who was also not bad at playing bass in one of the best Bosnian "new primitivism" (which is kind of old-school punk with a Balkan bloody twist) bands (and it was NOT called The Cigarettes, as they write in Village Voice, but Smoking Forbidden /Zabranjeno Pusenje/, which is quite different, and it has also another meaning since "pusenje" in our language means both to smoke and to suck - for example if I want to say that the Voice sucks dick, I'd say: Voice pusi kurac). But despite all of his healthy youthful tendencies to hooliganism, he was still a kid from a privileged Bosnian Muslim Communist home. His dad, the Secretary of Culture and Education in the former Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina, a part of Yugoslavia at that time, still lives in Sarajevo (he recently posted a letter to Bosnet opposing September elections if Karadzic and Mladic don't get arrested and tried in The Hague). Therefore, in the time when most of us didn't know that such things exist, Emir got scholarship to attend the film school in Prague and became a prot‚g‚ of Milos Forman. Upon his return he became a successful film maker. His films won lions in Venice and palms in Cannes. He always stressed his Bosnian origins (because it helped build him an image of a tough, no bullshit film maker whom younger generations in Yugoslavia may trust), while at the same time skillfully navigating through the arcane Yugo film production: gradually he became estranged from Sarajevo and its film industry.

Bosnian political structures were neither able nor willing to support his often irreverent films. He had to go where the money is. And in film, the money is where more movie-goers live, which in Yugoslavia meant Belgrade. Also, traditionally local political leaderships in former Yugoslavia were more culturally conservative than the central political power: this was one of the mechanisms how Tito kept Yugoslavia in check. If a local party leader would allow some cultural transgression of some young talented artist in his area, he'd be severely criticized, maybe even ousted by his superiors, while the artist would get gradually embraced, guided and ultimately corrupted by the party's higher-ups in Belgrade.

The beginning of the war caught Kusturica in some heavy duty schmoozing with his Belgrade pals and sponsors. He was disappointed with the West, particularly with America and American film industry, because he and his first and only English language film - The Arizona Dream - were failed by Hollywood. So, the Serbian anti-American mantra was digested well by him. I am sorry, but people from the Balkans do take things very personally. Kusturica left his teaching post at Columbia University, abandoned his green card (which he got easily after winning the Cannes as an exceptional artist), packed his things up and left for Europe.

But Arizona Dream sucked, truly. It was too long, too slow, and his humor didn't translate as well to English as it does to Bosnian. In former Yugoslavia, he was the only Yugoslav film-maker whose movie I went to see at the cinema and paid the ticket and everything. I never watched domestic films from no other author, except if it was a closed screening with free drinks afterwards. He even made a film completely in the Rromani language, once. Interestingly, that language carried his message better than English.

Once in Europe he based himself in Paris and in Belgrade. He changed his origins from Bosnian to Yugoslav, and he even went as far as to claim that, despite his name and his parents, he is not a Muslim, really. He says now that his folks told him how their ancestors accepted Islam 300 years ago, and how they were SERBS beforehand. That must have been some music for a Serbian nationalist ear. He said how his family told him that they were really Serbs. His father - remember: he is still in Sarajevo - must have loved that one.

Emir is not planning on returning to Sarajevo. He believes he'd get killed there. Well, he might be right about that. He does feel sorry about individual incidents: like he wrote how he was appalled with the story of one Rasim who got his feet hob-nailed in a Serbian concentration camp. In general, however, he sees just Nazis in Croatians and Islamic Fundamentalists in Bosnian Muslims, or is it just a plot to get funding for his next film in Serbia? His most recent film - Underground - that won him the Palm in Cannes (for the second time in his career), was filmed on locations in Belgrade with Serbian actors and in Serbian language during the period of so-called international sanctions against Serbia. It is again an epic film that lasts for three hours, but as I've heard there is enough suspense to fill the entire three hours.

Underground is a story about a triangle (two men love one woman), like a good half of the movies made in Hollywood. Yet, of course, it has a little Balkan spin to it: one men after the Second World War became a communist party leader, the other, however, was fighting for the wrong side and feared to be executed after the war, so he hid in a basement. The first man HELPED him stay in that basement for the next 20 years (telling him how safe he was there), while, of course, taking the woman for himself. Suddenly, he takes him out of the basement and tosses him into life. Why? Because there is that time again: a war is in the making. The parable is quite clear: slick Yugoslav communist party leaders did dig the nationalist monsters out of their graves and out of their basements when they needed them to start the war, which ultimately helped THEM stay in power, when the communist regimes in Eastern Europe started to fall apart with a terrifying speed.

In France the film produced a huge debate among intellectual elites: film isn't bad, but should it be shown, given that the filmmaker is a half-way war criminal? The debate however just helped Kusturica collect more revenue at the box offices in Europe. No such luck with the U.S.: a foreign language film that lasts 3 hours and is made by highly controversial author, possibly in a breach of the economic sanctions that the U.S. wanted imposed on Serbia, is simply a bad news for any distributor. Plus, Kusturica's sales people asked $ 3 million. Producers laughing caused a light earthquake in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg thinks of making a movie about Zlata's Diaries, a Bosnian Anne Frank story, grabbing Academy Award winning chance which belonged to Kusturica, but which he threw away with his usual bitter Balkan I-really-like-to-shoot-myself-in-the-foot arrogance, and-what-about-you?