Cross-posted from Smirking Chimp
'The reality is that after two decades of Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west's attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit'
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-- Vladimir Putin
"While the human politics of the crisis in Ukraine garner all the headlines, it is the gas politics that in many ways lies at the heart of the conflict."
-- Eric Draitser, Waging war against Russia, one pipeline at a time, RT
What does a pipeline in Afghanistan have to do with the crisis in Ukraine?
Everything. It reveals the commercial interests that drive US policy. Just as the War in Afghanistan was largely fought to facilitate the transfer of natural gas from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, so too, Washington engineered the bloody coup in Kiev to cut off energy supplies from Russia to Europe to facilitate the US pivot to Asia.
This is why policymakers in Washington are reasonably satisfied with the outcome of the war in Afghanistan despite the fact that none of the stated goals were achieved. Afghanistan is not a functioning democracy with a strong central government, drug trafficking has not been eradicated, women haven't been liberated, and the infrastructure and school systems are worse than they were before the war. By every objective standard the war was a failure. But, of course, the stated goals were just public relations blather anyway.
They don't mean anything. What matters is gas, namely the vast untapped reserves in Turkmenistan that could be extracted by privately-owned US corporations who would use their authority to control the growth of US competitors or would-be rivals like China. That's what the war was all about. The gas is going to be transported via a pipeline from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the Arabian sea, eschewing Russian and Iranian territory. The completion of the so called TAPI pipeline will undermine the development of an Iranian pipeline, thus sabotaging the efforts of a US adversary.
The TAPI pipeline illustrates how Washington is aggressively securing the assets it needs to maintain its dominance for the foreseeable future. Now, check this out from The Express Tribune, July 5:
"Officials of Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are set to meet in Ashgabat next week to push ahead with a planned transnational gas pipeline connecting the four countries and reach a settlement on the award of the multi-billion-dollar project to US companies.
"'The US is pushing the four countries to grant the lucrative pipeline contract to its energy giants. Two US firms -- Chevron and ExxonMobil -- are in the race to become consortium leaders, win the project and finance the laying of the pipeline,' a senior government official said while talking to The Express Tribune.
"Washington has been lobbying for the gas supply project, called Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Tapi) pipeline, terming it an ideal scheme to tackle energy shortages in Pakistan. On the other side, it pressed Islamabad to shelve the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline because of a nuclear standoff with Tehran...
"According to officials, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will lead a delegation at the meeting of the TAPI pipeline steering committee on July 8 in Ashgabat.
"At present, bid documents are being prepared in consultation with the Asian Development Bank, which is playing the role of transaction adviser. The documents will be given to the two companies only for taking part in the tender.
"Chevron is lobbying in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to clinch a deal, backed by the US State Department. However, other companies could also become part of the consortium that will be led either by Chevron or ExxonMobil." (TAPI pipeline: Officials to finalise contract award in Ashgabat next week, The Express Tribune)
So the pipeline plan is finally moving forward and, as the article notes, "The documents will be given to the two companies only for taking part in the tender."
Nice, eh? So the State Department applies a little muscle and "Voila," Chevron and Exxon clinch the deal. How's that for a free market?
And who do you think is going to protect that 1,000 mile stretch of pipeline through hostile Taliban-controlled Afghanistan?
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