Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Why The TAPI Pipeline is a Geopolitical Strategy not a "Conspiracy Theory"

For those in some sort of parallel universe where the TAPI Pipeline simply is not a strategic calculation within the overall war aims of the Western Powers in Afghanistan, it needs to be understood that those who support the US/NATO effort assume that the TAPI Pipeline is a vital interest ( even if hazardous ).

Alexandros Petersen wrote, ( TAPI pipeline: Bigger is not better Tuesday, June 12, 2012 )
TAPI has received strong support from the United States as part of Washington's "New Silk Road" strategy to bring development to Afghanistan through regional infrastructure connections, and as an alternative to the proposed Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline.
Petersen assumes the TAPI is an ambitious project but he does not write it off at all. He is author of the The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West and Advisor to the European Energy Security Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
TAPI must also maintain a reasonable scope. The construction of a record-breaking pipeline through a conflict zone with too many regional cooks in the kitchen is an insurmountable task. A relatively modest gas link with sound commercial underpinning and adequate security provisions may stand a chance at becoming reality.
Petersen does not want the TAPI pipeline to be "politicised" ( as if this would not happen or as if it is purely a commericial venture ) , despite the fact the insistence on the Afghan route from Turkmenistan is obviously political for those in Pakistan who would prefer the Iranian option which would provide gas four times cheaper.

The interpretations that can come from the fact of TAPI is an important strategic consideration are various. To deny that one of the main goals of Western geopolitics is to promote and facilitate the TAPI Pipeline is not. But it is difficult to sell that to the electorate in Western democracies so other narratives are sold ( "war on terror)

Newspapers and the BBC need journalism critical of the TAPI pipeline project that links it firmly in the context of the Afghan War. More transparancy is needed and the media ought to be doing its job , especially in outlining the true stakes in this war instead of those commenting only on military strategy.

For those who warble on about TAPI being a "conspiracy theory", it is curious that leading figures in Washington would seem to back up the fact that the pipeline is strategically valuable and that if Afghanistan had remained unstable or a haven for Al Qaida, it would have no chance of being built. Victoria Nuland, a State Department 'spokesperson', said this on May 23 2012,
"Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI gas pipeline) is a perfect example of energy diversification, energy integration done right. We are very strong supporters of the TAPI pipeline. We congratulate the (four) countries that signed (the agreement on) it..We consider it a very positive step forward and sort of a key example of what we're seeking with our New Silk Road Initiative, which aims at regional integration to lift all boats and create prosperity across the region....I frankly don't know whether we have commercial involvement in this, but we have been supportive politically and we stand by to be supportive in other ways if asked,"
This directly and flatly contradicts the "think tank" position of Petersen, who is not a government spokesman, and who thinks that the commericial viability and not the politics of a "peace pipeline" is the main issue.

The fact is that TAPI is part of a geopolitical strategy in Central Asia and is commercially valuable, though only a conspiracy theorist would have it that the war in Afghanistan was launched to get gas or enrich Halliburton-the Michael Moore line that makes it easy to write off the TAPI pipeline as so central to the war

That isolating Iran is a strategy behind the promotion of the TAPI Pipeline ( and it could not be built without Western troops providing security ) is clearly outlined by Nuland. Robert Blake who is responsible for the region has again and again said what is expressed here,
"We have been very clear about how we feel and how the international community feels about those kinds of investments Iran has historically been unreliable as a global partner...In this case, the case of the TAPI pipeline, you've got private sector investment, you've got new transit routes, you've got people-to-people links, you've got increased trade across a region that historically has not been well-linked, where there have been historic antipathies which are now being broken down by this positive investment project that's going to give jobs, it's going to give more energy, it's going to give more technology to the people of all of these countries...If Iran wants to come back into compliance with its international obligations, the whole picture's going to look different in terms of the way we feel about investments.."
Comment is Free . Facts are Sacred. So said C P Scott of The Manchester Guardian and these words are the masthead of the online site of that newspaper today. And so it should be If the facts are even reported, of course, in the mainstream Western media.

At least those facts which are inconvenient and euphemised only as "vital interests".

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