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"Pipe-istan" Becomes A Reality

By Rowan Wolf

Some were suspicious about the invasion of Afghanistan to capture bin Laden, smash al Qaeda, and overthrow the Taliban. Why? Because the U.S. and U.S. "interests" have a long history of "interest" in Afghanistan. Of particular interest was access to the oil and natural gas reserves of the region, and a plan to build a pipeline to transport those resources to the Caspian Sea.

I originally talked about this in an article I published in May of 2002 called Power Play?. In that article, I wrote the following:
Afghanistan and US interests prior to 9-11 It has been widely broadcast that the U.S. helped arm and train Afghans and extremists to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It is ironic that these same people would turn their skills and arms against the United States. However, it is beyond deceptive to present this as our sole connection or interest in Afghanistan.

The Clinton administration had been working with the Taliban from 1994 forward. Why? Because some companies (particularly UNOCAL and Saudi owned Delta) wanted "to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan." ... "so that the vast untapped oil and gas reserves in the Central Asian and Caspian region could be transported to markets in South Asia, South-East Asia, Far East and the Pacific" (Ahmad). This is supported by Jon Flanders ( 2001) article. While official relations were purportedly broken off in 1998, relations with the Taliban were maintained through the State Department (Ahmad) and through the Pakistan Military Intelligence ISI by the CIA. (Chossudovsky).

According to Jon Flanders (2001), U.S. interest in the pipeline restarted in 2000, but was still not moving forward when Bush was elected. With Bush came Cheney (CEO of Halliburton) and Halliburton had investments in Turkmenistan for "integrated drilling services with an estimated value of $30 million for the total package." (The World Trade Center Attack ... Caspian Oil and Gas and the Afghanistan Pipeline)

It should not be surprising given the oil interests of the President, his kin, and his appointees, that Bush placed Afghanistan on the top of his action list. In July 2001, Colin Powell gave the Taliban $43 million for "humanitarian aid" (Madsen, 2002).

According to a BBC report by George Arney (9/18/01), the US was planning military action in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. "Naiz Naik, a former Pakistan Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action would go ahead by the middle of October." ( Arney).

Therefore, recent headlines come as confirmation rather than as a surprise:
The pipeline that will change the world which discusses the opening of the 1,090 mile pipeline running through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (Azerbaijan - Georgia - Turkey). Purportedly the oil from the pipeline will "shore up energy supplies in the US and Europe for 50 years..." The article quotes Cheney from 1998 when he was CEO of Halliburton as saying "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian." Howden and Thornton state "The game now moves to the transCaspian pipeline and to the immense plains of Turkmenistan and the political cauldron of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and beyond."

So on to article two - Giant Caspian oil pipeline opens. I would encourage you to carefully read the section called "Wider Implications." In that section, it is noted that pipeline is considered strategically important to the U.S. as it is both "non-Russian and non-Middle Eastern." One should note that prior to the fall of the Soviet Union that was not the case, and that the U.S. training and arming of what later became al Qaeda was a significant part of that "fall."

This issue also becomes significant if you watch the alignments and realignments that are happening in the world. The relationships that are being formed between China and Russia, China and Venezuela (who is threatening to break off diplomatic relations with the U.S.), China a Pakistan (they held joint naval exercises). There are also the relationships that Russia is forming and maintaining - most notably to Iran. Join this with discussions within OPEC, in the European Union, and in Australia, to switch to the Euro as the currency standard, and one begins to sense shifting powers in both an economic and resource war.

So here we are after long maneuvering with the U.S. "strategically" placed in southeast Asia, with military placed in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan (ensuring the safety of the pipelines?. Meanwhile there is a long term (permanent?) presence in Iraq with both oil supplies, and a potential stranglehold on the highly valuable waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. With U.S. sword waving at Iran (again) with its oil supplies and strategic location. Ah yes, everything is setting up nicely to be in position for the oil (and gas) wars to come.

I love the sub-heading in the Globe & Mail - "Gales, undersea terrain, and remote locales are becoming the norm as the world grows desperate for new oil and gas supplies." Desperate, though certainly in the US both the media and the Bush Administration play (way) down any hint that there is a global shortage of oil and that new sources don't come close to usage. Nor, is there much mention about the fact that there is growing competition for those increasingly scarce reserves - particularly from China (followed not too distantly by India). No, that might throw the maneuverings and barbs, and threats into a context that might make people nervous. Heck, folks might even start asking if there isn't some other way around this looming catastrophe than the very real possibility of a world war - and this one will be nuclear (and biological, and microwave, and laser...). Nope, we definitely wouldn't want folks thinking about that. But I have a suspicion that the folks next to those shiny new pipelines are speculating on what's at stake.

Welcome to Pipe-istan.

Ahmad, Ishtiaq. 10/20/01. "Pakistan Observer" How America Courted the Taliban (CRG)

Flanders, Jon. 10/6/01. Indymedia. The World Trade Center Attack ... Caspian Oil and Gas and the Afghanistan Pipeline

Chossudovsky, Michel. CRG -- Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration? The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence Agency (ISI) in the September 11 attacks

Flanders, Jon. 10/6/01. Indymedia. The World Trade Center Attack ... Caspian Oil and Gas and the Afghanistan Pipeline

Madsen, Wayne. 1/02. Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team

Arney, George. 9/18/01. BBC. CRG -- US Planned Attack on Taliban .

Stuart, 8/30/02, WSWS, Caspian Basin oil pipeline company founded

El-Saghir, 1998, Caspian Sea Region: The Checkerboard of Oil & Minefields

Scott, 5/16/02 Afghanistan, Turkmenistan Oil and Gas, and the Projected Pipeline

What Really Happened, It's All About Oil

Howden & Thornton, 5/25/05, Independent/UK, The pipeline that will change the world

BBC. 5/25/05, Giant Caspian oil pipeline opens

Ebner. 5/25/04, Globe&Mail, Extreme engineering: pipeline edition - Gales, undersea terrain, and remote locales are becoming the norm as the world grows desperate for new oil and gas supplies

Rowan Wolf is a columnist for Project for the Old American Century, 
and the editor of Uncommon Thought Journal. 
Her email is [email protected]

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