Wednesday, 28 March 2012

TAPI as part of the Sanctions Policy on Iran.

The rival Pipeline to the TAPI is now targeted as part of the sanctions on Iran. After all, 10 years in Afghanistan has to be of some use and "worth it".

As the Express Tribune reports 9 The Iran Pipeline 28 March 2012 ),
'With Pakistan’s energy crisis becoming ever more grave, the need for power has never been more acute. It was heartening, then, that the president insisted that Pakistan would go ahead with both the Iran gas pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. As welcome as these words are, there is every chance that they will collide with the immovable forces of superpower politics and the threat of militancy. Of the two proposed pipeline projects, the Iran gas pipeline is by far the more viable option. It is more affordable than the TAPI pipeline and also faces less threat of being blown up by extremists. The TAPI pipeline would run through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan and Quetta in Pakistan, which makes the chances of sabotage more of a certainty than a possibility.

'The Iran pipeline, on the other hand, faces the equally deadly American veto. The US, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has already floated the threat of sanctions should Pakistan go through with the proposal. The US has also been making use of back channels to put funding for the project into peril. A Chinese bank withdrew its promise of money for the pipeline after quiet US intervention'. ( my italics ).
Also reported is US interest in securing for US firms a stake in constructing the TAPI Pipeline,
'“A couple of major US oil companies are interested,” said Daniel Stein, senior advisor to the special envoy for Eurasian Energy in the United States. “We would like to see a US company involved at some point in TAPI.” He declined to name the companies. TAPI is considered to be consistent with US’s declared policy of linking Central and South Asia and diversifying export routes for Turkmen gas'...

Monday, 12 March 2012

Still No Mention of the TAPI Pipeline in Explaining the Afghanistan War.

The death of another six British troops in Afghanistan ( taking the death toll so far to 404 ) has led to the usual flurry of media concern over the war that such deaths usually occasion without any further insight being shed on it. The usual windbag editorials fail even to grasp the reality of what the war is about.

The Guardian stated today ( Dash for the Exit ),
There is every indication that the end of Britain's fourth war in Afghanistan will be as politically driven as its disastrous entry was.
It was not really "politically driven". It was caused partly by the need to act against a Taliban regime in Afghanistan that contained prominent Al Qaida terrorists ( though 9/11 was organised mostly in Europe ) and also by the need to secure Afghanistan for the West's geopolitical strategies as regards Central Asia.

The endgame is to secure the construction of the TAPI Pipeline. The reason NATO is there is that it still has yet to secure the pipeline route which is intended to run from the Dauletadbad Gas Field in Turkmenistan through both Afghanistan's and Pakistan's most volatile regions on to India.

One thing never mentioned by politicians is that TAPI runs right through Helmland where the vast majority of British troops have been killed since 2007-2008. The Taliban has to derail the pipeline project as it has no stake in the central government dominated by ethnic groups from the north.

NATO intervened on the side of the Northern alliance back in 2001 in what was a civil war in order to defeat the Pashtun dominated Taliban. It has been unable to achieve this for a number of reasons and one is that the writ of the regime in Kabul has never extended to the south of the country through which the TAPI Pipeline will run.

The official withdrawal date of troops by 2014 is merely "public diplomacy". Leading US generals have already admitted that the West will retain a presence in Afghanistan after that date. The aim is to provide security for the construction of the pipeline that is due to be completed by 2016 by optimistic estimates.

The TAPI Pipeline is significant as it means that Turkmenistan gas is diverted southwards and away from Russia which previously had a monopoly of pipeline routes westwards, of crucial concern for new NATO states in the former Eastern Europe that are wary of Russia's control over it's energy supply.

Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State, made that clear in 2007: “One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan,” and to link South and Central Asia “so that energy can flow to the south. The reasons for this lie not only with Russia.

It is also essential for NATO to secure TAPI in order to block off Iranian influence to the east and the export of its gas to Pakistan and India via the rival IPI Pipeline. Not only would such a pipeline supply gas to Pakistan at four times a cheaper price, it would tend to negate the purpose of western strategy.

The first is to encircle Iran from both West ( Iraq) and the East. The TAPI Pipeline's construction means that the signatories are bound to a project that unites Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India in a community of mutual interest from which Iran is cut off and excluded.

It is a policy that dovetails with the ultimate goal of "regime change" in Iran which controls the third largest reserves of gas on the globe and copious oil. If Afghanistan is not under Western control, then other regional powers can deal directly with Iran without Western interests being considered.

This is considered particularly ominous when the US is obsessed with securing energy diversification when 60% of its oil comes from abroad. The gas from TAPI is a potential source of Liquified Natural Gas ( LNG ) and the last thing it or European states want in China to gain prominent stakes in the flow of gas.

In 2009, George Krol, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said to Congress that a prime US interest in Central Asia was “to increase development and diversification of the region’s energy resources and supply routes.”.

The war in Afghanistan was launched in the wake of frosty relations between the US and China in 2000 at the outset of the Bush II Administration. The Shanghai Cooperation Treaty between Russia and China demonstrated that both these large land empires were prepared to collude if they deemed it necessary.

The war in Afghanistan is concerned with the conflict for hegemony in Central Asia. Whatever the auxiliary goals as regards democracy and women's rights, the TAPI Pipeline is and will remain crucial to the creation of what US diplomats and Hillary Clinton herself call "The New Silk Road".

When the history of the Fourth Afghan War is written, historians will find the Western media replete with shallow delusions, liberal wish thinking and a complete lack of comprehension as to what was at stake. But by that time the world could be racked with resource wars that will breed terrorist blowback and consequently lead to a reduction in liberty at home.

And journalism will have failed miserably to do what it was supposed to do in free societies: to inform and educate.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The US Warning to Pakistan over the Rival Pipeline

Trend of Azerbaijan has an interesting news feature on the pressure that the US government is putting on Pakistan to scrap the IP pipeline project and choose the TAPI pipeline that runs through Afghanistan instead. Naturally, this has not been given any prominence in any Western media outlet yet.

State Secretary : US Strongly Supports the Construction of the TAPI Pipeline.

'The United States strongly supports the idea of construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. At the same time, Washington strongly opposes meeting of Pakistan's needs in energy resources by constructing pipeline to purchase "blue fuel" from Iran, ITAR-TASS quotes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying on Wednesday.

Speaking at hearings in one of the subcommittees of Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, she assured that Obama administration recognizes Islamabad's "essential energy needs". However, construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan, either as a separate project of Tehran, or as a joint venture of the two sides would mean a "violation of our (that is, the U.S.) legislation on sanctions" against the Islamic Republic, Clinton said.

"We all know what would be the consequences of this. And it would have particularly devastating effect on Pakistan, because its economy is already fragile. Additional pressure to which the United States would have been forced to resort, would undermine their (that is Pakistanis) economic situation even more," Clinton added.

She said the U.S. "clearly" stated its position on this issue to Pakistan. "We urge Pakistan to seek alternatives (to purchasing natural gas from Iran)," Clinton added.

From her point of view, it is "a little inexplicable" why Pakistan now "tries to negotiate (with Iran) on the construction of the pipeline," knowing that Washington is trying hard to "increase pressure" on Tehran in connection with its refusal to clarify nature of nuclear activities. "And there is an alternative, which we strongly support - Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India the gas pipeline. We believe that this is a better alternative in terms of both predictability and avoid doing business with Iran," U.S. Secretary of State said'