The inauguration of the Dauletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline on Wednesday connecting Iran's northern Caspian region with Turkmenistan's vast gas field may go unnoticed amid the Western media cacophony that it is "apocalypse now" for the Islamic regime in Tehran.
The Turkmen-Iranian pipeline mocks the US's Iran policy. The US is threatening Iran with new sanctions and claims Tehran is "increasingly isolated". But Mahmud Ahmadinejad's presidential jet winds its way through a Central Asian tour and lands in Ashgabat for a red-carpet welcome by his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, and a new economic axis emerges. Washington's coercive diplomacy hasn't worked. Turkmenistan, with a gross domestic product of US$18.3 billion, defied the sole superpower (GDP of $14.2 trillion) - and, worse still, made it look routine.
There are subplots, too. Tehran claims to have a deal with Ankara to transport Turkmen gas to Turkey via the existing 2,577km pipeline connecting Tabriz in northwestern Iran with Ankara. Indeed, Turkish diplomacy has an independent foreign-policy orientation. Turkey also aspires to be a hub for Europe's energy supplies. Europe may be losing the battle for establishing direct access to the Caspian.
This follows other good economic news for Tehran's leadership, in the form of Iran's inflation rate plunging 1.6 percent for the month of November 2009. Central Bank of Iran chief Mohammad Bahmani says the annual inflation rate in the Iranian month of Aban, which ended on November 20, 2009, stood at 15.1 percent.
Bahmani expressed hope that the inflation rate would be brought down to around 10.5 to 11 percent by the end of Iranian year (ending March 20).