When it comes to Afghanistan and energy corridors, there are no new ideas under the sun–even Hillary Clinton’s favorite project, the “Silk Road,” is just another attempt to revive one of her husband’s policy failures. The following testimony was given to Congress on 12 February 1998, by John Maresca, International head of Unocal–
“There are few, if any, other areas of the world where there can be such a dramatic increase in the supply of oil and gas to the world market. The solution seems simple: build a ‘new’ Silk Road.”
Anyone who has been paying attention to the decisions being made in Washington concerning the final resolution of the Afghan dilemma should have seen something like this coming down the pipe. The Obama team has consistently pushed a revived TAPI project like it was already a done deal. All of Obama’s emissaries have done everything imaginable to coerce Pakistan into signing-on to the mega-project, usually by portraying TAPI as something in Pakistan’s best interests and the Iranian IPI pipeline as something harmful. If today’s report that the Taliban also want TAPI is true, then the US has once again performed another act of “ju jitsu diplomacy,” whereby a foreign entity’s decisions are turned on their heads, so that blatant lies are swallowed whole, as if they were the only truth. In Pakistan’s case, after Ambassador Holbrooke successfully donned the disguise of humanitarian benefactor he was able to dominate the media with pro-American propaganda.
The pipeline plot was actually a subtle form of arm-twisting, intended to force Pakistan into helping the US bring the war to a close. If Pakistan would only consent to forcibly bending the Taliban into a cooperative frame of mind, then all of these economic benefits and problem-solving initiatives would simply fall into their laps. Such is the nature of American Fascist “diplomacy.” Holbrooke’s hallmark.
Just as Pakistan is now being forced into an undesired partnership with America, through a combination of economic incentives and military pressure, Turkmenistan has been maneuvered into a corner until conditions could be made amenable to TAPI development. TAPI would be a reality by now were it not for American obstructionism. By February 10, 1993, Bridas Corp. of Argentina had already signed contracts to build the pipeline with the Turkmen state gas company, Turkmenneft, but construction was blocked by Unocal of California lawyers, who hung the project up in US courts on legal technicalities.
In hindsight, it is apparent that the President of Turkmenistan at that time, Saparmurat Niyazov, also helped Unocal negate the contract which he had previously signed with Bridas, because he didn’t like the 75/25 split specified in the contract, since Bridas would receive the 75% as the project developer. Thereafter, with development rights to all of that gas and oil up in the air, the Saudis took control of the project, as they assumed the dubious position of financier of both factions in the legal and political battles to build TAPI. New corporations were formed by different Saudi royals, Delta and Ningharco; Delta partnered with Unocal and Ningharco backed Bridas. Ningharco was a shell company based in the Jersey Isles, run by the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki. The Saudis were controlling both sides of the bidding war and negotiations, which continued behind the scenes right up until the attacks in Washington and New York, committed by mostly Saudi terrorists on September 11, 2001. Is it simply an awful coincidence that the TAPI negotiations came to a dead end simultaneously with the rise of the mostly Saudi terrorist organization, we know as “Al-CIA-da”?
Saudis, Saudis everywhere, most of them stirring-up trouble of some sort,…and yet they are still helping us to run the terror war–the war which has made this new TAPI deal with the Taliban possible. This entire war has been a farce, an exercise in building Saudi wealth. And still, no one in Washington gives a damn–as long as their schemes help bring about the dreamed-of strategic pipeline corridor through Afghanistan and Balochistan. It will all be celebrated as a great victory, Obama snatching Hillary’s pipe dreams and his second term out of thin air, making it the cornerstone of a “New American Century.” All of this, thanks to Saudi double-dealing and the twisted legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, administered by the capable hands of Clinton’s wife.
“The Afghan Taliban have assured that they would not sabotage the project,” a senior official told The Express Tribune quoting Afghan authorities. “The Afghan government would also deploy troops to ensure the security of the pipeline,” the official added.
Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are scheduled to meet in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on May 23 to sign the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA). The proposed pipeline will pass through Herat, Kandahar, the birthplace of the Afghan Taliban and the most volatile province of Afghanistan, then Balochistan and Multan before entering Indian Punjab.
There is also the issue of mines on the proposed route. In 2008, Afghanistan was tasked to clear the mines on the route area within two years. Currently, officials are also unclear whether the Afghan government has succeeded in removing these mines or not.
Due to Taliban’s involvement in insurgency on the proposed route, Pakistan had earlier also proposed Turkmenistan to supply gas via Iran using the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline instead of laying a pipeline through Afghanistan, under a swap arrangement. But the proposal never materialised due to unprecedented opposition from the US against Iran.
Under this proposed arrangement, the imported gas volume agreed between Pakistan and Turkmenistan was to be supplied to the northern provinces of Iran in lieu of which Iran was to supply equivalent gas volume through the IP pipeline to Pakistan.
According to the official, an alternative western route of constructing the pipeline between the Afghanistan-Iran and Pakistan-Iran border was also proposed that was agreed by the Afghan government. Pakistan had floated this proposal as it believed that more than 72% insurgency-related cases by the Taliban take place on the earlier proposed TAPI gas pipeline route.
“After assurance from the Karazai government that Taliban will not blow up the pipeline, participating countries have agreed to lay the pipeline on the earlier proposed route,” the official said.
Participating countries including India were also concerned about security situation in Balochistan.”We have assured them that the government would prepare a force of local people to deploy in the area of the pipeline in Balochistan to ensure security,” the official added.
When the participating countries meet in Turkmenistan on May 23, they will ink the formal deal on the transit fee and GSPA. Pakistan, India and Afghanistan had agreed on a transit fee rate at 49.5 cents per million British thermal units (MMBTU), during the talks held in Islamabad earlier.
India will pay 49.5 cents per MMBTU as transit fee to Pakistan and Pakistan will pay an equal amount to Afghanistan.
“Pakistan will get $217 million as transit fee from India, which will be paid to Afghanistan,” the official said.
Pakistan and Turkmenistan have also agreed at a gas price rate equal to 70% of crude oil against the 78% of crude oil with Iran under the IP gas pipeline project.
Published in The Express Tribune