Monday, 24 September 2012

Why are British Troops still in Afghanistan ?

The reason British troops are in Afghanistan is to provide the security environment for the construction of the TAPI Pipeline. This strategic war aim has little to do with corporate profits, though these are a potential beneficial spin off as recent successful bids by Western energy giants to construct it show.

As Business Recorder reports, ( TAPI gas pipeline project: Singapore, NY, London road shows ‘well received’ September 24 2012 ), the Asian Development Bank, the "Transaction Advisor" or  "TA", is there to fund the project and "gauge the market resoponse",
The New York road shows were attended by world leading IOCs such as Chevron and Exxon Mobile and leading financial institutions Citi Group and US Exim. All participants expressed a keen interest in the project. In the London Road Show, TAPI Parties met with representatives of British Petroleum, Shell, British Gas and Morgan Stanley. Invitees for upcoming shows are Mubadala Group, Macquarie, RWE and Deutsche Bank.
It should be noted that the Asian Development Bank is mostly controlled by Western interests. It is a cousin of the World Bank. Key players are the US, Australia and the UK. The bank exists to facilitate Western financial interests in Afghanistan's "nation building".

The idea this war is about " international terrorism", as Foreign Secratary Hammond claimed a few days ago is not true. The Taliban was never the same as Al Qaida and many Taliban factions even back in 2001 were hostile to it. More so today as the Taliban is only partly made up of members prominent then.

The war is for the strategic benefits of the TAPI Pipeline, curtailing Iranian gas exports to the Indian subcontinent and maintaining a stake in carving up the mineral wealth of Afghanistan against the ival attempts of China to gain concessions in mining. Afghanistan has $1trillion of Lithium reserves.

These war aims are euphemised as "International Development" , "Nation Building" or "Infrastructure Projects". The reality is that these are all interconnected with NATO geopolitical strategy, as is evident from the stated intentions of Hillary Clinton and Robert Blake to create "A New Silk Route".

The TAPI pipeline is important as part of the aim of isolating Iran. The IPI Pipeline has already been largely built on the Iranian side and would supply gas to an energy hungry Pakistan four times cheaper than from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to the north and with less domestic discontent.

No war, the Fourth Afghan War included, is ever only "about" one thing. The importance of the Trans Afghan Pipeline was there from the outset of the War. Preventing Al Qaida from having a base in Afghanistan was also an original war aim of the Bush II administration.

As the war has dragged on and Washington becomes more concerned over Iranian ambitions, and its ability to exercise influence in the Middle East and Central Asia grows stronger as Shia movements gain power and influence, blocking a lucrative Iranian pipeline to the east has become ever more important.

The TAPI pipeline's construction would offset the need for Iranian gas exports, entrench the sanctions regime already in place and, possibly, destabilise the government in Tehran and help bring about "regime change". The alleged nuclear programme of Iran is also a consideration here.

In a nutshell, the governments of NATO nations keep giving contradictory statements as the real objectives are thought to be ones that are difficult to explain to the publics of democratic states and so the usual "politically correct" ones are given-development, women's rights, protection from terrorism etc

John Foster, a former World Bank economist and expert in energy geopolitics, has at length argued the central importance of the TAPI pipeline in "staying the course" in Afghanistan. The most detailed treatment is his seminal 'Pipeline Through a Troubled Land.

The fact that is, as British soldiers continue to be repatriated in body bags, that there is no debate in Parliament about the war aims. This makes it all the more important that those who oppose this war actually understand what the true stakes in the conflict are.

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