Friday, 12 April 2013

Why the Afghanistan War is about Great Power Geopolitics and the TAPI Pipeline.

The New Silk Route includes the TAPI Pipeline as well as the railroads. There is ample evidence, cited by Afghan energy ministers going back to 2003 ( as revealed in Lutz Kleveman's The New Great Game, that the West was in Afghanistan to secure the construction of the pipeline.
Facts are facts. All beneficiaries of the TAPI pipeline have signed up to it: it is a stated intention to get it built and is regularly lauded by US diplomats and State Department officials.
One document from 2011 makes this long term continuity in policy clear.
The pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan was first proposed in the mid-1990s with the now defunct American energy company Unocal-led consortium and the Argentine company Bridas vying for signing a deal with the then Taliban regime in Kabul. However, security considerations combined with international condemnation of the Taliban regimes on women and human rights had led both the companies to pull out, leaving the project in a lurch. The idea was revived after the Taliban were unseated from Kabul. At the end of 2002, three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan) signed a new agreement. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) conducted a feasibility study and rendered the project possible in 2005. Following an approval by the Indian cabinet, India became the fourth country to join the project in 2008.

 The same document goes on to state, contrary to the unfounded and ignorant claim that TAPI was a "dead duck" by 1998 or part of some leftist "conspiracy theory"

The United States (US), for example, is propounding the project as ‘magic glue’ that will bind the warring factions and their regional proxies into an interdependent cooperative framework.The US hopes that TAPI will in all likelihood wean India away from the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline from Iran’s South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf. In addition to further isolating Iran,the resultant interdependence and benefits of cooperation might act as a catalyst for peace between India and Pakistan.

Now no foreign policy decision, such as NATO's involvement in Afghanistan is ever only "all about" one thing: there are multiple policy objectives, something that's difficult to explain to those who think the pipeline is about profits as opposed to energy geopolitics.

The IP Pipeline became a reality this week: yet it faces the same problems that the TAPI Pipeline faces in being the target of enemy guerilla forces ( in the IP case it's Balochistani seperatists ). So it's no more a reality until it's built than TAPI is not a mere stated intention.

The point not grasped by those who see themselves as involved in 'infrastructure projects'  and , therefore, in the know, remain ignorant about howt they dovetail with foreign policy strategies about which mere engineers may well not be well educated about.

The four governments have until this year been in dialogue about the TAPI pipeline: Pakistan has not even reneged on it's desire to remain part of the project. It has simply rejected US intimidation about accepting the IP as a violation of the sanctions policy on Iran

Intelligent Pakistani analysts who know the history of the Great Game understand the new revived one. The US is still deeply engaged in Afghanistan due to the geostrategic benefits of the TAPI Pipeline and hemming in Iranian regional influence via gas exports.

As Salman Rafi Sheikh asserts,
Dominant military presence in Afghanistan is, therefore, regarded by the Americans as vitally important for actualising US’ interests. It provides the platform through which US can threaten its potential regional rivals as well as dominate gas and oil export routes emanating from Eurasian landmass. Also, Afghanistan lies along a proposed pipe line route from the Caspian Sea oil fields to the Indian Ocean; therefore, its importance in US’ 21st century grand strategy is critical. To be realistic, therefore, US’ invasion of Afghanistan has to be analysed from the perspective of US’ geo-strategic and geo-energy objectives, rather than from the US’ projected perspective of ‘elimination of global terrorists’.
The successful implementation of Silk Road Act required huge military presence in the region as well as controlled militarization of the Eurasian region as a means to securing control over oil and energy reserves and protecting pipeline routes and trade corridors.
Again, the hard evidence is there. It is possible to interpret the facts in a different manner. Yet ignorance is no basis upon which to have an intelligent discussion. Every bogus claim that raising the stegic significance of the TAPI Pipeline theory is a "conspiracy theory" is a product of a reaction to those who really do think TAPI is only about corporate profits.

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