Thursday, 23 August 2012

China Counters the NATO Pipeline Plan in Afghanistan.

After 11 years of conflict the futile US led invasion of Afghanistan may fail even to secure the consolation prize of the TAPI pipeline, a major interest for NATO "staying the course" as China moves in to propose an alternative that looks far more realistic than "The New Silk Route".

That could stymie the attempt to start TAPI's construction and revive the rival IPI Pipeline, a key interest for Tehran,  and that accounts for  the continued occupation of Afghanistan by NATO as part of the strategy of encircling and containing Iranian economic interests by curtailing its gas exports.

As Indian energy expert Shebonti Ray Dadwal makes clear here in IDSA Comment ( Now China may play spoiler to TAPI July 31 2012 ),

'Recent reports of a rival pipeline project being negotiated between China, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have emerged. This project proposes to carry Turkmen gas to China through northern Afghanistan and Tajikistan, raising concerns that it may render TAPI a non-starter, akin to the manner in which TAPI played spoiler to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project

On June 6 and 8, 2012, on the sidelines of the SCO summit meeting in Beijing, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and China National Petroleum Corporation’s (CNPC) head Jiang Jiemin and discussed the proposal along with other issues. According to reports in the Chinese media, CNPC offered to conduct a technical and economic feasibility study for the proposed project on Afghan and Tajik territories. That the route for the proposed pipeline seeks to avoid the troubled Pashtun-dominated areas in Afghanistan—seen as one of the biggest hurdles for the TAPI project —would make it more attractive for the financiers'

It is not just China who is standing to benefit. As regards the revival of Russian influence in Central Asia, Dadwal comments,

'...TAPI’s demise could revive IPI. Pakistan, which is facing a severe energy crunch and is therefore reluctant to succumb to US pressure to abandon the Iranian pipeline, is now talking to the Russians as potential financiers of the IPI—now truncated to IP—project. Recently, a minister-level Russian working group was reported to have participated in meetings in Pakistan, with discussions focusing on Russia’s willingness to finance IPI.'

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