Saturday, 10 December 2011

The New Silk Road : The TAPI Pipeine

The importance of the TAPI pipeline as central to the New Silk Road strategy ( though never mentioned explicitly as such due to "Public Diplomacy" ) was outlined by Joshua Kucera for EurasiaNet ( Central Asia: Iran Left Out of the New Silk Road , November 22 ).

"Ancient Persia was a heavily trafficked corridor on the Silk Road, the transcontinental trade route between China and the West that flourished centuries ago. But in Washington’s imagining of a 21st century version of the Silk Road, Iran seems set to be bypassed.

The New Silk Road strategy is a key aspect of the United States' plan to promote stability in Central Asia following the departure of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The hope is that boosting trade among Afghanistan and its neighbors will build prosperity and promote peace. The American strategy focuses on bolstering north-south trade – linking India and Pakistan via Afghanistan to the formerly Soviet republics of Central Asia

“We are focused on South and Central Asia because those are the immediate neighbors of Afghanistan and therefore that's where the greatest effort lies for improving trade and other linkages,” said Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, speaking November 14 in Washington, DC, at a conference organized by the Jamestown Foundation.

As it stands, Iran – Afghanistan's western neighbor, and a country with which Kabul has annual trade of about $1.5 billion – would be sidelined"

Iranian officials have criticized the US vision. “The issue of building a New Silk Road by the United States and some European countries that have never been situated in the geographical area of Silk Road is unjustifiable and suspicious,” said Mohsen Pakaein, head of the Afghanistan Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, according to the Iranian Students' Information Agency.

“The United States' regional cooperation strategy of 'Everything Excluding Iran' is doomed to failure,” wrote Hassan Behshtipour, an Iranian commentator on post-Soviet affairs, on the website of Iran's Press TV. “Iran must be allowed to participate in the New Silk Road, bringing all its economic and commercial potentials to this new regional game".
It is precisely competition over these competing interests that accounts in the longer term for the increase in tensions in recent months as Obama's administration seeks to squeeze Iran economically and to unleash covert cyber warfare upon nuclear facilities that are believed to be used towards creating a nuclear bomb.

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