Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 20, 2009

The New Route Plus Iranian Jet Fuel Supply To Afghanistan

Kyrgyzstan handed the U.S. the eviction note for its airbase in Manas. U.S. activities there will have to close down within 180 days.

The base was important as a relay for troops going to and coming from Afghanistan. Big jets could land there and smaller jets took the troops to their forward bases. Another important function of the base was the refueling of jets flying over Afghanistan by tanker airplanes out of Manas. There is no obvious other base that could fulfill that function.

But there is also good new - mostly for Russia - with a new land supply line activated today from the Baltic Sea to Afghanistan that could replace, at least in part, the endangered supply line through Pakistan. The first train with 100 containers of non-military supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan left Riga, Latvia, today. It will travel through Russia and Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan.


If the route is working as planed there will be some 20 to 30 trains per week. At an average 14 metric tons per 20 foot container that will be up to 6,000 tons in supply in some 430 containers per day. A new agreement with Tajikistan will allow for some 30 containers per day to go from Uzbekistan through Tajikistan and over a U.S. built bridge into Afghanistan.

There is no railway system in Afghanistan and the rail route from Latvia ends at Hayratan right behind the friendship bridge that connects Termez in Uzbekistan with Afghanistan. There the 400 containers per day will have to be put onto trucks to be driven over the Hindukush down to Balad Bagram Airbase near Kabul and further south to Kandahar for further distribution.

This is the original supply line the Soviets used when they got stuck in Afghanistan. The Russians build a tunnel at 3,400 m height under the Salang pass to cross the Hindukush and connect north Afghanistan with Kabul and the south:

The tunnel represents the major north-south connection in Afghanistan, cutting travel from 72 hours to 10 hours and saving about 300 km. It reaches an altitude of about 3,400 m and is 2.6 km long. The width and height of the tunnel tube are 7 m. About 1000 vehicles pass through the tunnel daily.

When the new route is establish another 400 vehicles in each direction will have to pass through the tunnel per day, nearly doubling the traffic. When the Soviet supply ran through there, the Salang route was under constant attack by the Mujaheddin.

I expect the same to happen when the majority of goods will pass through the new supply route.

Costs to resupply in Afghanistan are already immense. To keep a brigade in Afghanistan costs twice as much than to keep one in Iraq. On wonders how much of this luxury is sustainable. To bring in supply by air costs $14,000 per ton. For the new railway supply line the costs per ton are expected to be $300 to $500.

We will see if that price is correct. The countries the trains pass through see the wares as pure commercial goods. Thereby the usual custom procedures and tariffs will apply. The trains will stop here and there for various reasons and are not guarded. Pilfering by the local bandits and mafias will occur and the loss rate will likely be high.

The 'western' forces in Afghanistan also need some 3,000 tons of fuel and 250 tons of drinking water per day. With additional U.S. troops arriving those numbers will increase. Most of the diesel fuel comes from Pakistan but curiously some 10,000 tons of jet fuel per month is now said to come from Iran!

Pakistan is exporting about 50 per cent more diesel a month to Afghanistan to 100,000 tons from June to September versus the usual monthly volumes to help in reconstruction works.
But Pakistan has suspended jet fuel exports to Afghanistan since June 25.

“The suspension is indefinite. Afghanistan is drawing jet fuel supplies from Iran,” [the Karachi-based source, who asked not to be named] added.

Pakistan used to send 10,000 tons of jet fuel to Afghanistan every month.

As the supply situation in Pakistan becomes more dire another source for diesel supply will be a major issue. Iran has a good chance to get into some profitable business by offering to supply it. That offer is too good to get refused.

With a veto over vital supply for U.S. forces in Afghanistan Iran, like Russia, would than have a nice ability to politically squeeze the U.S. whenever it needs to.

earlier coverage of Afghanistan logistics at MoA:
The Pink Route To Afghanistan, Feb 3, 2009
The Costly New Supply Route To Afghanistan, Jan 26, 2009
New Supply Routes To Afghanistan, Nov 19, 2008
Fuel for War in Afghanistan Aug 20, 2008
The Road War in Afghanistan Aug 16, 2008
Fuel Tanker Attacks in Afghanistan Mar 24, 2008

Posted by b on February 20, 2009 at 17:58 UTC | Permalink


From Parviz in another thread: CFR: Iran and the Future of Afghanistan

Iranian radio broadcasts fill the airwaves, Iran-funded road and building projects are under way, a new teacher training center is planned for Kabul, and a Herat-Khaf rail link (Pajhwok) is being constructed to connect Afghanistan and Iran by train. Iran has also offered humanitarian aid to Kabul in the form of fuel and transport-as much as $500 million since 2001, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service. CFR's Rubin, who has spent years as a journalist in Afghanistan, says Shiite Afghans are better off financially than most of their counterparts because of aid from Tehran.
Suggestions persist that Iran might have a positive role to play in stabilizing its war-ravaged neighbor, where in early 2009 violence was spiking and Taliban fighters were gaining strength. U.S., NATO, and UN officials have all noted Tehran's support of the government in Kabul. A number of experts stress that Iran wants stability and prosperity on its eastern doorstep for commercial and trade reasons.

So some realignment between Iran and the U.S. with Afghanistan as the catalyst is clearly coming and that makes the jet fuel supply linked above believable. Afghanistan does not need the 10,000 tons per month. Those are likely used by U.S. planes.

The Zionists will scream over this and with a Netanjahu government in Israel this may well lead to a split of Israeli and U.S. interests with lots of (positive) consequences.

Posted by: b | Feb 20 2009 18:44 utc | 1


ot or not - a question - why then the u s agressive today with regars to ukraine's membership to nato?

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 20 2009 19:03 utc | 2

Great thread, b. These types of developments, whether in the form of open or indirect cooperation between the U.S. and Iran, are the only means of curbing the influence of the Fascist Israeli regime on U.S. foreign policy, and of ultimately bringing peace to various parts of this troubled region. Ex-Israeli soldier Rahm Emanuel must be praying in overdrive for something to go wrong.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 20 2009 19:04 utc | 3

I also mentioned in a post that during her Indonesian trip Hillary Clinton reportedly praised Iran's assistance and positive role in Afghanistan. I saw this as a news flash across the screen on Press TV but can't find confirmation from other news sources.

However, here is separate confirmation today from the Head of NATO:

NATO: Iran can help stem Afghan violence

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 20 2009 19:13 utc | 4

@rgiap - why then the u s agressive today with regars to ukraine's membership to nato?

retreat talk - nothing more

Posted by: b | Feb 20 2009 19:39 utc | 5

I'm currently reading the book "The hidden war", half of it being around the retreat at the Salang pass of the Soviet army. Funny to see history repeating itself.

Posted by: Stephane | Feb 20 2009 20:38 utc | 6

Great analysis, as usual, b. Extraordinary Russian stranglehold over the US. I haven't seen the like of it in my lifetime. I can see why why the Russians persuaded the Kyrgyz to shut down Manas airbase.

Re the Salang tunnel, I took a bus through it forty years ago while on a hippy trip to India. The point I wanted to bring up is exposure to attack by mujahidin. Certainly true, very exposed, but to whom? Hazara in Bamyan to the west, the Panjshir valley to the east. The Soviets mainly suffered from attacks from the Panjshir under Ahmad Shah Mas'oud. Since his death, the Panjshir has been quiet. And they have a history of emnity with the Taliban. For the Taliban it would be out of territory, not easy to make more than the odd risky attack.

I would think the risks are more the common ones of excessively heavy traffic through a high altitude tunnel. 40-ton trucks sliding on the ice and blocking the road, and all the other ones you can imagine. Worse certainly than the Khyber road, climatically speaking, and the tunnel is not, as far as I know, ventilated. The US military is usually good at organising this sort of traffic. But the problems posed by keeping the Salang going, will add just another layer to the costs of the force in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Alex | Feb 20 2009 22:15 utc | 7

on bagram & also on habeus corpus, on renditions, on secret prisons, obama has proved himself every bit as much an arsehole as the mast president

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 20 2009 23:29 utc | 8

Well I hope all of this optimism is well founded but unfortunately the recent history of Iranian/ amerikan relations is littered with examples of Iran helping the western alliance or amerikan objectives in the hope that their nation will be looked on more kindly, only to find that they get shat on from a great height by amerika when it comes time for reciprocity.

eg early in Rafsanjani's reign as Iranian prez, after new amerikan prez Bush 1 announced at his inauguration that "goodwill begets goodwill" in relation to amerikan hostages in Lebanon, bush followed up that open statement with a more specific dialogue with Iran through UN diplomats who met with Rafsanjani.

amerika promised to support an independent reparations inquiry into the true perp of the Iran/Iraq war (that would have been interesting had it ever occurred since amerika cranked up Saddam gave him the chemical weapons that slaughtered so many young Iranians and pressured the rest of the world into refusing to sell Iran the arms it needed to defend itself properly. It didn't matter amerika's counter ploy on Iraq whereby the sweetener for signing a ceasefire with Iran after no result, the re-integration of the stolen lands of Kuwait, was offered then used as an excuse for war with Iran, had superseded any enquiry. In the end Iran said that some lifting of the arms embargo would be appreciated.

The revolutionary guard liaison in Beirut pressured Hezbollah to release the hostages but Hezbollah (rightly in my opinion, refused) however since they depended on the Revolutionary Guard for resources the commander turned off the tap and waited. The commander's billet in Beirut was placed under siege by elements of Hezbollah and after a particularly fractious night of rpg attacks on the commander, in a vain attempt to drive him back to Tehran, the Hezbollah leaders agreed to a timed release of amerikan and other 'western hostages'.

The last hostage, Terry Anderson, was released in december 1991 and Iran waited and waited. Nothing. A big fat zilch - so they went back to the UN envoy and said "what about our deal?" Picot the envoy contacted Brent Scowcroft who said "I'll see what I can do" (I'm sure that comment was all Picot really needed ie "please please we'll do anything" had become "I'll see what I can do") after a few days he rings Picot and says "Sorry about that no one wants to go with it. They don't like Iran"

That was the end of Rafsanjani's attempts to do a deal with amerika and it seriously weakened his standing in the Iranian power center. The situation remained frozen for the remaining three years of Rafsanjani's tenure.

amerika never intended on giving Iran anything - why would they?

Khatami's term as prez of Iran was heavily coloured by the fact that Rafsanjani had got his fingers burned trying to reason with amerika, so for all the talk of a new beginning - nothing really happened. amerika could have broken the logjam in an instant, they knew that the ball had to be in their court after the last scam they pulled, but they didn't attempt anything beyond a silly amateur wrestling match because they were trying to play chess at a time when openness could be the only way forward.

Oh sure they got Pakistan to pressure the taliban into backing off from a showdown with Iran in the late 90's but that was a strategic decision not a peacemaking one.
After the taliban's blatant breach of the conventions protecting diplomats when half a dozen Iranian diplomats were massacred in northern afghanistan, Iran could have legitimately gone to war with Afghanistan and had amassed huge forces on the border preparatory to doing so.

In those pre 911 days when all muslim 'terrorism' was Iranian according to the west (this included the rabidly anti-Iranian Usama bin Laden's activities in Saudi Arabia one of the 'reasons' given for the lack of goodwill following the Beirut hostages) the last thing amerika wanted was to see Iran able to legitimately exert control over the Afghanistan transport routes.

Why won't amerika deal fairly with Iran, come what may? Because the options available to their ME policies are really unattractive when a strong and independent Iran is thrown into the mix. amerika is engaged in consolidating it's empire and an independent Iran ruins that.

Just as the soviet union provided many non-aligned states with a range of options including accepting the soviet unions 'protection plan' rather than amerika's, a strong independant Iran, one that isn't a pariah and is accepted in international fora, provides lots of 'downside' for the amerikan empire with little 'upside'.

For example the constant pressure Syria is under could be relieved in an instant if Syria could publicly rely on Iran as a big brother without leaving itself open to further accusations and sanctions. At the moment Syria and Iran's relationship is fraught with potential pitfalls in case one of the many arcane rules about how they can 'legally' interact is breached.
The same goes in spades for Palestine of course, an Iran that could legitimately deal with hamas as the elected government of Palestine really reduces amerika/apartheid israel's ability to wipe out Palestinians.

This issue is much bigger than the whining zionists, however their constant carping over Iran does provide cover for amerika's real motives. That the only Iran amerika is prepared to deal with openly is a subjugated Iran, an Iran that knows it's place and takes orders.

amerika will accept anything on offer from Iran, but just as they have done over Iran's assistance in Iraq, there will be no real quid pro quo apart from a few luke warm words then a return to denouncing Iran at every turn. The jetfuel will be regarded as a plus but amerika will be ensuring that it has alternatives ready for the inevitable realisation on the part of Iranians that they are just pissing in the wind.

It will be in both amerika and Iran's leaders interests to delay that moment until after the Iranian elections. amerika because it imagines that if Khatami wins they may manage to manouver him into a spot where they can blackmail him, get him caught in some subterfuge by using third party envoys, then threaten to expose him as a traitor unless he continues to go along with their program. This is a big ask. Khatami was terrified of that possibility last time and that concern, along with amerikan stubbornness, was the theme of his last prezdency.

Iran's leaders know that most Iranians have had enough, that they want to be able to become fully fledged consumerists just like many of the other "less civilised" places in the world can.

The current leadership will make this concession to amerika so they can boast to their public that rapprochement with corporate capitalism is just around the corner, even if they realise deep down the impossible conundrum Iran is in. If the mullahs can convince voters this is the case voters are likely to elect a more mainstream, more "reliable" prez than Khatami.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 20 2009 23:53 utc | 9

nice ability to politically squeeze the U.S. whenever it needs to.

Oh, dream on, little b.

Your rump of the empire country doesn't want "taliban" with nukes. Neither does your hero Putin. Nor Iran. Nor China. Nor India.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 21 2009 1:12 utc | 10

This is the revenge of the Russians, with those same relying upon the same take as Osama Bin Laden, that is, by making it easier for US imperialism to destroy the US economy, the Russians have guaranteed the continuation of that policy by politicos in the US. Overreaction by politicians relying upon fear to get elected will drag the US down just like the arms race brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Osama said this was the way to do it. The Russians know this, and are playing along to keep the US over-extended so that it continues its financial hemorrhage.

Posted by: Gregorio | Feb 21 2009 2:32 utc | 11

Iran lacks the refining capacity to meet its domestic demand in gasoline gasoil and jet fuel. the only refined product it exports in any meaningful quantity is heavy fuel oil (resid) which as marine fuel is unuseable to the military in afghanistan. there's no way its exporting gasoil or kerosene to NATO while hoarding and rationing these fuels at home, relying itself on imports from India, Singapore etc.

Posted by: v. l. | Feb 21 2009 3:07 utc | 12

@v.l. - there's no way its exporting gasoil or kerosene to NATO while hoarding and rationing these fuels at home, relying itself on imports from India, Singapore etc.

Why not? Why can't Iran import for $X per barrel and sell to the U.S. for $X+Y?

Hey - did you notice that Pakistan has been rationing for years and lacks refining capacity while delivering lots of fuel to the U.S. in Afghanistan?

@Alex - you are right that the Panjshir was Masoud's territory and that he was the main force against the Salang route. But the Salang is such a juicy target that it will attract lots of notice from other folks from down South.

It is too easy to attack to not be attacked. Just send a truck into the tunnel and blow it up ...

Posted by: b | Feb 21 2009 4:58 utc | 13

Moscow invites Turkey to Shanghai forum on Afghanistan

Russia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), has invited NATO member Turkey to an SCO conference on the situation in Afghanistan, scheduled to be held in Moscow on March 27.

A statement released Thursday by the Russian Foreign Ministry said the meeting would discuss the "situation in Afghanistan and its influence on neighboring states, boosting joint efforts by the international community to counteract terrorism, illegal drug trade and trans-border organized crime from Afghan territory." The SCO regional security group is made up of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Russia took over the presidency of the organization last August. Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.

The meeting in Moscow will come only days before a key NATO summit on April 3-4, when heads of state from NATO member nations will discuss the issue of committing more forces to Afghanistan.

Posted by: a | Feb 21 2009 6:32 utc | 14

"amerika will accept anything on offer from Iran, but just as they have done over Iran's assistance in Iraq, there will be no real quid pro quo apart from a few luke warm words then a return to denouncing Iran at every turn. The jetfuel will be regarded as a plus but amerika will be ensuring that it has alternatives ready for the inevitable realisation on the part of Iranians that they are just pissing in the wind."

Debs, it would be great if you would allow me to disagree with you without your calling me a 'Capitalist tool' only interested in feathering my own nest, as you have in the past:

Your brief history of post 1978 U.S.-Iran relations is accurate. But nothing is written in stone and history doesn't always repeat itself. But just to get the ball rolling let us begin with something we can both agree on, namely, that the U.S. doesn't want a strong Iran. Of course it doesn't, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Now comes the next, far more pertinent question:

"Can the U.S. prevent a 'strong Iran'?" And here's where we differ because my answer is 'No'. I qualify my 'No' with the additional phrase: " ....... unless the U.S. or Israel bomb Iran (and by this I mean not just Natanz but the whole of Iran) back to the Stone Age". Assuming this doesn't happen, I've given numerous reasons in previous posts and on other threads, ranging from America's indispensable need of Iran's help on 5 different war fronts to the growing economic, political and military might of Iran at precisely the time when the U.S. is declining in all 3. Essentially, time is on Iran's side, not on America's, and Iran is cleverer enough to discern whether the Democrats are negotiating more honestly this time than the Reagan and Bush administrations have behaved in the past. There are numerous hardliners who will raise Hell at the first sign of U.S. treachery.

The problem for you is that a genuine rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. would represent a victory for Capitalism and a defeat for Socialism and political Non-Alignment, as you firmly believe the U.S. Empire is not in decline but actually growing in strength and that, as a result, Iran will be enslaved and unable to represent "The Oppressed" any longer. In doing so, you ignore America's global unpopularity, its unprecedented economic weakness, the fraudulence of "Shock and Awe", the lightening growth of alternative economic and political axes that didn't exist barely a decade ago and, finally, the widespread acknowledgment of U.S. foreign policy as entirely self-defeating.

It sometimes helps to look at the Big Picture. Sure, there will be setbacks, some of them major ones, but time is on Iran's side, not America's, and America will have to play with the cards it has been dealt in 2009, not with the cards it possessed in 1951 or 1991 and, believe me, America's new hand holds very few trumps.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 21 2009 7:15 utc | 15

P15) If Iraq controls its own airspace now, and US refuses to refuel Israeli attack planes, please explain how Israeli can bomb Iran back to the Stone Age, unless they send a suicide mission and promise those Israeli kamikazes seven shekels of silver,
or fully automate the fighters, as the 9/11 TFHs claim was done to the commercials,
or use their new submarine fleet to lob nukes into Tehran from the Indian Ocean and
suffer a dog's death at the hands of a US fleet doing some sonar target practice.
?What submarines? Plausible deniability. Unclaimed mountains of shekels in Hebron.
DOD's a business! Shock and awe on American & Isreali citizens! Last year the
Americans were conned out of 50,000,000 pounds of pure 24ca gold, paid to "Defense".
Audit DOD-DHS-NASA-GWOT budget in gold bars, and King Midas would have penis envy.
GWOT is just a massive, gigantic, apartheid con against American/Israeli taxpayers.

Posted by: Shak Ratlnrol | Feb 21 2009 8:43 utc | 16

#16, I fully agree with you but was obliged to account for the mathematical possibility that somebody does something crazy. It was purely hypothetical and intended, in fact, to prove that the U.S. has no choice other than to make peace with Iran and to stop trying to subjugate it.

I would welcome your comments on the rest of the post rather than just on that one line. Do you believe the U.S. will negotiate with Iran as an equal (at least in Iran's own backyard), or do you believe a permanent state of hostility will occur?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 21 2009 9:12 utc | 17

Blast hits NATO supply tanker, kills one

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A supply tanker for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan was attacked in northwestern Pakistan, and one passer-by was killed, local media reported on Saturday.

A road bomb was detonated in Pakistan's Khyber tribal agency and damaged an oil tanker destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan, The News website said.

Posted by: b | Feb 21 2009 9:12 utc | 18

Current events lend credibility to the last para of my post #15, in which I stated the America has a weak hand and cannot reverse the course of history:

In addition to softening her tone on Iran, Hillary Clinton, just one rung below Joseph Lieberman on the 'Democrat-Neocon' ladder, has now softened her tone on China too, conceding that human rights are of zero concern to an America desperate for Chinese funds:

Clinton softens tone on China

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 21 2009 9:59 utc | 19

Obama Widens Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan

WASHINGTON — With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government.

The missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft. Under President Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mr. Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.


Mr. Mehsud was identified early last year by both American and Pakistani officials as the man who had orchestrated the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and the wife of Pakistan’s current president, Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Bush included Mr. Mehsud’s name in a classified list of militant leaders whom the C.I.A. and American commandos were authorized to capture or kill.

It is unclear why the Obama administration decided to carry out the attacks, which American and Pakistani officials said occurred last Saturday and again on Monday, hitting camps run by Mr. Mehsud’s network. The Saturday strike was aimed specifically at Mr. Mehsud, but he was not killed, according to Pakistani and American officials.


For months, Pakistani military and intelligence officials have complained about Washington’s refusal to strike at Baitullah Mehsud, even while C.I.A. drones struck at Qaeda figures and leaders of the network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a militant leader believed responsible for a campaign of violence against American troops in Afghanistan.

According to one senior Pakistani official, Pakistan’s intelligence service on two occasions in recent months gave the United States detailed intelligence about Mr. Mehsud’s whereabouts, but said the United States had not acted on the information. Bush administration officials had charged that it was the Pakistanis who were reluctant to take on Mr. Mehsud and his network.

Posted by: a | Feb 21 2009 10:56 utc | 20

Why are they going after Baitullah Mehsud now, after for over two years he has caused so much mayhem in Pakistan, and the us just stood by and did nothing.

My calculated guess would be that Baitullah is now planning to target Zardari, and the us is acting preemptively to protect one of their biggest assets in the region.

Posted by: a | Feb 21 2009 11:04 utc | 21

If I was a Taliban Afghan Resistant, I'd just put a car/truck bomb in the tunnel. To see how effective that could be, read the report about the fire which blocked the traffic of the Mont-Blanc tunnel in the Alps in 1999. Tunnels transform themslelves into backofen in case of fire.

So this tunnel of Salang looks like a great vulnerability...

Posted by: Christiane | Feb 21 2009 12:31 utc | 22

Sorry, I forgot the link to the description of the fire of the Mont-Blanc tunnel fire of the Mont-Blanc tunnel

Posted by: Christiane | Feb 21 2009 12:33 utc | 23

Looking at Uncle $cam's link on another thread I noticed more commentary supporting my theory that perhaps, maybe, the U.S. will have to make peace with Iran out of sheer desperation, the kind of despair that has led to an about-turn on human rights in China, It looks very much that the Emperor has no clothes:

Amnesty 'Shocked' By Hillary's China Human Rights Remark

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 21 2009 12:51 utc | 24

Doubly sorry.. the link doesn't seem to work, here is another

or the direct address to paste :

Posted by: Christiane | Feb 21 2009 13:05 utc | 25

Hey - did you notice that Pakistan has been rationing for years and lacks refining capacity while delivering lots of fuel to the U.S. in Afghanistan?

None of the goods that pass through Pakistan (fuel included) are supplied by that country but by NAMSA in Luxembourg and shipped by NATO flagged vessels. Pakistan doesn't broker or supply fuel as you are suggesting for Iran.

What documentation of Iran's involvement is there other than this unsourced document on what seems to be a public bulletin board?

Posted by: v.l. | Feb 21 2009 14:04 utc | 26

Swoop: Central Asia: An Uncomfortable Logistical Dependency on Moscow

Despite Washington’s need for a revised Central Asia policy and continued US-Russian tensions in the energy realm, top US officials are hoping for improved relations with Moscow. As part of a wider private exchange the Administration is said to have indicated a deceleration in NATO accession talks for Georgia and the Ukraine as well as a milder rhetoric with regards to the planned U.S. missile shield system in Eastern Europe. Even though President Obama has made clear that it will handle Russia more pragmatically than the Bush Administration, disagreement over the degree to which the new President will reverse his predecessor's policies and how that will affect U.S. interests and the Eurasian region prevails. Nevertheless, deep concern has arisen at the Pentagon about supply lines, reflected in the following private comment to us from an official at the policymaking level in the Defense Department: “The idea that we can wage an effective military campaign in this landlocked country without safe and dependable logistical support is crazy.”

Posted by: b | Feb 21 2009 14:15 utc | 27

Great post B. Who'd have thought the Taliban would promote such co-operation between the U.S., Russia and Iran? Or, more accurately, that they would put Washington over such a barrel that they have little choice.

One quibble. You mention "Balad Airbase near Kabul", when in fact Balad is in Iraq. I'd guess you were thinking of Bagram.

Posted by: Ron F | Feb 21 2009 14:28 utc | 28

@v.l. - None of the goods that pass through Pakistan (fuel included) are supplied by that country but by NAMSA in Luxembourg and shipped by NATO flagged vessels.

Nonsense: A bit older but from a usually reliable German thinktank: Logistical Vulnerabilities and the Afghanistan War - The Pakistan Fuel Connection

The U.S. military is now burning about 575,000 gallons of fuel per day in Afghanistan . And about 80 percent of that fuel is coming from refineries in Pakistan. Without the support of Musharraf and the Pakistani military, U.S. forces in Afghanistan would have only one fuel supply, and it would be coming via a precarious logistics line that extends more than 1,000 miles from northern Afghanistan all the way to refineries in Baku, Azerbaijan and Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan.
Also here or maybe you want to check this U.S. government Request for Information
DESC Bulk Fuels, Overseas Contracting Division (DESC-BFA) is currently considering a solicitation for the acquisition of "Transportation" via tank truck delivery of DESC owned petroleum products from various refineries throughout the country of Pakistan. Upon loading, the tank trucks transport the petroleum products to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border crossings at Torkham and Chaman and then on to various locations inside Afghanistan.

You are indeed correct to doubt the source in that piece by a journalist from Peshawar about jet fuel supplies from Iran.

Usually the jet-fuel would come from Pakistani refineries and seems to come again(?) coming from Pakistani refineries.

But note that the piece speaks of last summer when oil prices were sky-high and Pakistani refineries did not have money to buy crude oil on the market because their domestic customers could not pay. So I doubt that the report is baseless.

Posted by: b | Feb 21 2009 14:43 utc | 29

maybe, the U.S. will have to make peace with Iran out of sheer desperation, the kind of despair that has led to an about-turn on human rights in China

another case of "We hate you but we can't do without you"

i recommend the badger's latest post, a translation of a report by Beijing-based reporter Federico Rampini in La Reppublica

The seething resentment in these words does not yet mark the end of Chimerica. With Mrs Clinton the regime's leaders will rehearse the continuation of a constructive dialogue, convinced as they are that aggravating the global recession would benefit no-one. But in the light of mainstreet America's increasing hostility towards them, the leadership of the People's Republic is studying a "Plan B". Its most audacious moves include using the country's massive currency reserves for new purposes: to finance buy-ups of deposits of raw materials in other countries, ranging from Australia to Africa to Latin America. A reconversion that would have heavy consequences: a blow to the stability of the dollar, a worrying shortfall in treasury funding for Washington. However, the decision to step over this fatal threshhold has not yet been reached: "We hate you but we can't do without you" is still the key sentiment in the present phase. But even Confucian patience has its limits.

Posted by: annie | Feb 21 2009 16:30 utc | 30

@RonF - You mention "Balad Airbase near Kabul", when in fact Balad is in Iraq. I'd guess you were thinking of Bagram.

You are right - my mistake - I now corrected that.

Posted by: b | Feb 21 2009 16:41 utc | 31


Most of the time around here I feel like a undergrad sitting in on a discussion between post Doc’s who occasionally tolerantly my starry-eyed and naive comments. Without doubt I am learning something most of the time I’m this bar, but to be adjunct of a to your coherent, articulate, cosmopolitan yet culturally imbued voice expounding on one of today’s most important political issues, with the rest of the faculty, is astounding. This thread and your other thread participations have been worth four undergraduate years of history and political science for me on a topic of utmost relevance rolled up in a few concentrated days. I hope my daughter runs into someone like you in her college career.

Posted by: Juannie | Feb 21 2009 18:48 utc | 32

@Parviz The problem for you is that a genuine rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. would represent a victory for Capitalism and a defeat for Socialism and political Non-Alignment, as you firmly believe the U.S. Empire is not in decline but actually growing in strength and that, as a result, Iran will be enslaved and unable to represent "The Oppressed" any longer. In doing so, you ignore America's global unpopularity, its unprecedented economic weakness, the fraudulence of "Shock and Awe", the lightening growth of alternative economic and political axes that didn't exist barely a decade ago and, finally, the widespread acknowledgment of U.S. foreign policy as entirely self-defeating.
Since that statement contradicts just about everything I have ever written about the amerikan empire I would be interested to know exactly what you are basing those statements on.

Why is that you always resort to ad hominem attacks on posters you disagree with rather than dealing with their arguments? Could it be your points are weak influenced as they are by personal involvement? Rather ironic really since you keep accusing me of only seeing what I want to see, when it is you that is dreaming of a world that doesn't exist.

I didn't call you a capitalist tool I did ask if that was where your sympathies lay since you were an advocate of the neo-liberal capitalist model which amerika brings to client states, and that class of person is the only type that usually benefits from such arrangements. Equally you could be misguided, I don't know and don't particularly care Parviz. I do know that if Iran tries to deal with amerika before Iran is stronger and amerika is much weaker, a lot more Iranians will suffer than otherwise would.

I have no idea whether Iran has nuclear weaponry is trying to build it or not, but I do know that the acquisition of nuclear arms is the only thing likely to save them in the short run. It annoys me and deeply saddens me to say that but the reality of the world we live in is only those nations which have nuclear weapons are accorded the rights of a sovereign nation. However perhaps that will change. Pakistan doesn't have a delivery system which can get its warheads close to any people that matter in the eyes of the west's leaders so Pakistan is not inviolate, perhaps not even nuclear weapons can prevent the inevitable showdown between Iran and the amerikan empire. Although Israel could be hit by Iran, maybe amerika will just hire Raytheon to spend a few billion dollars on a boondoggle meant to stop the Iranian rockets like they did last time.

Whatever happens until amerika gets much weaker, as it will, I have no doubt about that, and I don't know where you get the idea I imagine it won't, the notion of Iran being able to deal with amerika on some sort of reciprocal basis and be treated fairly and honestly is just plain silly.

Nations don't have feelings, they have interests. You and I can be as pissed about that as we want to be but that is the fact of the matter Parviz and any attempt by Iran to give aid to amerika won't be received with gratitude, it will be played in an effort to destabilise the government that tried to be friendly.
As I have said so many times before, the only regime that amerika won't spit in the face of is a client, puppet regime, it shits on those in order to save spittle for 'real opponents'.
Amerika's whole economic strategy going forward has been based upon Iran being a plaything. It has been that way since the 1940's and will not change until major changes occur within amerika and in amerika's relations with the rest of the world. Every move amerika has made in the ME in the last 20 years has been as part of a long term plan to get Iran back. From supporting Saddam in the Iran/Iraq war, maybe even planting the seed in Saddam's head, that was a first attempt when the amerikans foolishly thought they could get back in easy using someone else's cannon fodder. Then offering Iraq Kuwait then denying the offer, as an excuse to go to war with Iraq was the next phase. The long term way that amerika approched the Iraq invasion gives an idea of the scope of this strategy, but as you alluded to Parviz, amerika is weakening so maybe the timelines are out of kilter, but even so amerika is nowhere near weak enough yet for a regional power such as Iran to be able to face down, with or without nuclear weapons.

The nuclear weapons may prevent an invasion, which is what the next step in the plan is meant to be. Of course amerika pretends that nuclear weapons would cause an invasion, but since amerika is not in a condition to invade at the moment, manufacturing as many termo-nuclear devices as possible in a short time frame, seems to be the smart thing for Iran to do.

If amerika manages to rebound from it's seeming death cycle, Iran will be slowly strangled with sanctions until amerika believes it weak enough, imagines the time is right politically ie some new distraction will make their masses forget the Iraq mess, and has created a suitable provocation. Probably by cranking up a minority to commit an atrocity then remonstrating with Iran for punishing the terrorists.

I hope it never comes to that but unfortunately, that determination is largely outside the power of Iran to effect. Any attempts at rapprochement will either be turned against Iran or be ignored. Remember the way that Iraq's information minister, the bloke who rushed about trying to prove a negative, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, was regarded by western media? They played him as a joke and his message never got out.

You don't write much about the amerikan special forces terror attacks into Iran Parviz? Are they too remote from Tehran?

Iran is between a rock and a hard place it is no fun living under the mullahs, but any alternative would have been crushed by amerika years ago, only Iranians can know whether they prefer life under the current mob to life back as an amerikan puppet but the fact that you have a choice and can state your preference should tell you something Parviz. There are many people living in other parts of the ME, parts which are ruled by amerikan puppets where spruiking for a change of government wouldn't be wise. What did happen to poor Riverbend?

Back to the point. Arguing for a return to amerikan slavery or sticking with the current mob are the only real alternatives on offer at the moment. Anything else is illusory as amerika is nowhere near weak enough yet to accept an independent Iran, and arguing that a third way is possible is either foolish or duplicitous.

Be angry at me if you must Parviz but that won't change the sad reality that living in a world dominated by one 'superpower' is.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 21 2009 20:17 utc | 33

I'm not angry at you, Debs, I'm debating with you. And you have a lot to offer, particularly on historical background, as I happily conceded in my post #15.

Where we differ is in our prophecy for the future, not in our assessment of the past. That's all.

As for ad hominem attacks, you started them, I responded, as even a neutral observer (Donald) conceded on another thread, so please re-examine your statements about my being blinded by consumerism and being a tool of capitalism, etc.,. simply because I disagree with you. In fact, here are your statements which I found both exceedingly presumptuous and shamelessly provocative:

"I understand if you don't class yourself in with ordinary working people and are eager to bite the cherry of middle class consumerism just like the glossy magazines and TV shows present it"


"If you see yourself in the small group of haves, fine Parviz,....."

Either you've got Alzheimers and forgot what you wrote, or you consider your provocations fair and my responses unfair. For your personal information, I'm trying to improve things from the inside, right here in Iran, rather than pontificating from a safe distance.

Anyway, we're arguing in circles so let's put it to bed. You believe the 'Amerikan' empire, unlike every empire before it, is so strong that it can force every other nation to bend to its will. You also believe that the Islamic Government is 'better' than the Western variety despite all the evils I've described, including a system that denies the existence of homosexuals yet hangs them by the dozens, a system that transfers the nation's wealth into private offshore accounts, a system that tortures and executes Bahais, a system that has turned one of the world's wealthiest countries into the world's biggest under-achiever, a country that has managed to HALVE per capita income over 30 years and has 25 % unemployment despite over $ 100 billion of foreign exchange revenues in 2008, etc.,.. So let's agree to differ. You fix your country, whatever it is, and let me fix mine, because I can only conclude that you don't have the faintst idea of the problems faced by ordinary Iranians today and yet praise the Islamic Government to the Heavens on the sole basis that it stands up to Israel and America. The people are fed up with this situation and need more than that.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 21 2009 22:11 utc | 34

Thanks, Juannie (#32), I'm too old for anyone's daughter but appreciate your kind words. I get as much as I give on this wonderful Blog, so we're all learning from each other.

What I find most interesting, and slightly unnerving, is the category I've been pigeon-holed into by some bloggers. I always vote my conscience, so I'm anti-Shah and anti-Khomeini, anti-Communist but also anti-Extreme Capitalist. I admit the U.S. has caused nothing but trouble in the past but doubt its ability to continue doing so in the future.

However, I listen to those who also state that things will never change and that politics will remain exactly the same as it has for the past 100 years. I don't agree with them, but if I didn't value their intellect I wouldn't even bother debating with them as fiercely as I have done. So it's often frustrating but I too have learned a lot in the process.

Good luck, and make sure your daughter marries an Islamic-Jewish-Presbyterian banker specialized in micro-finance rather than derivatives!

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 21 2009 22:20 utc | 35

I meant as a professor and not as a potential spouse, but I think she would go for a Islamic-Jewish-Presbyterian-Buddhist small scale organic farmer and not the banker type. :-)

Posted by: Juannie | Feb 21 2009 22:58 utc | 36

Juannie, I agree, your mix is far better, both for the profession and the added Buddhist ingredient!

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 5:26 utc | 37

Debs is dead @9 your analysis is really really tight. Thanks!

Posted by: barfly | Feb 22 2009 5:47 utc | 38

And Debs, if the 'Amerikan' Empire is so 'strong', please explain

--why Hillary Clinton grovelled (literally) before the entire Chinese nation and publicly admitted that China's financial assistance to a bankrupt America is far more important than the encouragement of human rights;

-- why the U.S. allowed Zardari to grant the Taleban, which has just imposed Sharia Law in North-West Pakistan, self-rule and a formal refuge in SWAT (an offer which the 'weakened' Taleban has not even accepted but is merely 'considering' (!?!);

-- why the U.S. suddenly did a 'volte-face' on Afghanistan and no longer rages about corruption in the Karzai government;

-- why it sent Kerry to 'evil' Syria, arch enemy of both Lebanon AND Israel, to sound out a peace deal;

-- why Hillary Clinton praised Iran's assistance in the rebuilding of Afghanistan during her visit to Indonesia;


And here's Kerry's very meaningful statement in Damascus:

"Unlike the Bush administration that believed you could simply tell people what to do and walk away and wait for them to do it, we believe you have to engage in a discussion,"

Debs, your English is superior to mine, so kindly explain the significance of the above sentence, especially the words "have to". Or maybe you think it was just a 'Freudian Slip'?

Next the U.S. will offer citizenship to all Saudi Wahhabi Muftis, with the laudable aim of "having to" try diplomacy......

If it looks like a declining empire, walks like a declining empire and talks like a desperate empire ............ it is both 'in decline' and 'desperate', even if in denial.

So your pathological fear of what the U.S. can do to Iran is not shared by the undersigned, and I would prefer to develop Iran's economy while the U.S. is weak (via Europe, Brazil, South Africa, China, Russia, Malaysia and the NAM which contitutes 2/3 of the world's population) than to fall further behind the rest of the world and see my nation's economy crumble and trigger a civil war. Iran doesn't need the advice of well-intentioned but misguided intellectuals, thank you very much. And be happy that I give you credit for at least being honest and 'well-intentioned', which is far more than you credit me with.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 6:09 utc | 39

"You don't write much about the amerikan special forces terror attacks into Iran Parviz? Are they too remote from Tehran?"

That was a disingenuouly misleading comment, another false accusation, which shows you write more than you read, otherwise you would have noted my comments on the CIA's financing of the Al-Qaeda backed Jundullah trying to foment partition in Iran's Baluchestan Province.

If you doubt my words I'll dig up the link. I think it's in the "right to choose" thread.

"Too far from Tehran"? No, Debs, it's YOU who is "too far from Tehran", which explains your romanticized nonsense about the Islamic regime which is one of the most corrupt on Earth.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 6:15 utc | 40

barfly (#39), I agree with you about Debs's post #9. It's generally superb and I praised it myself at the beginning of my post #15.

It's his post #33 that I think is unadulterated, paranoid rubbish designed to keep my country backward.

In 1978 my country had a higher per capita income than South Korea, we had already put down a Communist rebellion in Oman (sorry, r'giap, but they weren't the kind of Communists you would have liked), we were rapidly developing our non-oil industry and had a major nuclear energy project under way with Framatome and KWU, we had the 5th most powerful army in the world and nobody dared to attack us, not Saddam, not Israel, nobody. We had a massive reverse brain drain, plus women's rights (including women judges and cabinet ministers). We had full employment. Religious freedom was far greater, with the Bahais left in peace and the Sufis/Rumis granted the respect they deserve (their place of worship was bulldozed in Isfahan this week by the Islamic regime).

And Debs has the nerve to tell me that I don't write about things "too remote from Tehran"?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 6:27 utc | 41

And my Sunday question to anyone:

Can anybody name me a single country that has grown strong and managed to resist bullying by a foreign empire, over a lengthy period of time, without the benefit of a strong economy fuelled by foreign investment?

I think you get my point: I see FDI as a way of empowering both my people and my nation. I have never heard of an economically weak nation being able to withstand bullying. The USSR collapsed because of a weak economy, Cuban banks recently defaulted because of a lack of foreign investment, China has the U.S. on bended knee BECAUSE OF decades of STRONG foreign investment, the Turkish P.M. could afford to publicly slam and walk out on Peres at Davous because of the strong, booming Turkish economy, while Brazil has not only become the world's 10th largest economy as a result of FDI but is pursuing a policy of non-alignment aimed at assisting other South American nations rather than following U.S. dictates.

I really fail to see why Iran shouldn't be able to play the same role in the Middle East that Brazil is playing in South America and China is playing in the Far East. We certainly have the political will, the geo-strategic advantage and the economic potential to do it.

But no, some on this Blog would prefer Iran to remain economically backward, religiously indoctrinated, stiflingly oppressive to the younger generation, closed to tourism and 'evil foreign influences', its economy monopolized by the Revolutionary Guards and its populace drugged or degenerate, its people on a permanent war footing, the nation subjected to horrific Western propaganda and lies, its ministries run by illiterates chosen purely for their religious connections, homosexuals executed and with no recourse to international human rights because the nation's nuclear programme has turned it into a 'pariah state', 25 % unemployment despite foreign exchange revenues last year topping $ 100 billion, "free' elections as long as candidates are found 'religiously acceptable' to the unelected vetting bodies, my nation's wealth being stolen by Qatar which is developing our joint South Pars/North Dome gas field (the world's largest) at triple the rate of Iran because of Qatar's easy access to funding and technology, etc.,.

........ and all because some people on this Blog want Iran to "stand up to amerika". Get a life! Iran can stand up much better to 'amerika' if it's economically strong, because it will not only have the means to develop its military deterrent but will also have a fully employed population behind it, guaranteeing national unity and political stability.

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 9:29 utc | 42

And if even Iran's State Expediency Council Chairman wants to make peace with the U.S.A., who is anyone on this Blog to complain?

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 9:47 utc | 43

Here was the link that was supposed to have accompanied #44

Rafsanjani encourages U.S. peace initiative

Posted by: Parviz | Feb 22 2009 9:49 utc | 44

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