Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 28, 2012

How The U.S. Military In Afghanistan Is Breaking The Sanctions On Iran

The U.S. military in Afghanistan uses about 110 liters (30 gal) fuel per soldier per day. About half of that was coming through Pakistan until its border with Afghanistan was closed. For two month now the military lives off in-country reserves but it has now also started to purchase gasoline on the local Afghan market. But much of the fuel available on the Afghan market is actually coming from Iran. The military is thereby indirectly breaking U.S. sanctions against oil purchases from Iran.

Early 2011 Iran shut down all official fuel exports to Afghanistan. Fuel in Iran was at that time subsidized and often smuggled across the border. This close down was rumored to also be a response to sanctions the U.S. had put up against Iran. There was suspicion in Iran that exports to Afghanistan were used by the U.S. military.

During 2011 Iran abolished fuel subsidies and in December 2011 Iran signed a new agreement with Afghanistan to provide it with a million ton per year of gasoil, gasoline and jet fuel.

After the U.S. military killed 26 Pakistani troops in a border incident on November 26 the Afghan-Pakistani border is closed to all traffic. The fuel supply the U.S. military in Afghanistan received from and through Pakistan is cut off. Since the in-country reserves are limited and supply through the Northern Distribution Network is much more expensive as well as congested the military started to acquire petroleum products on the local market.

US officials say 85 per cent of the fuel for the military now come from the north.

Afghan businessmen say the international force is topping this up with purchases inside the country. This is affecting the market, forcing up prices and making petrol and public transport more expensive for the locals.

Farid Alokozay, head of the government agency responsible for petroleum products, said NATO was increasingly buying in fuel from domestic firms.

Mohammad Qorban Haqjo, chief executive of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, confirmed that 20 local firms had signed a lucrative fuel supply deal with NATO.

“The contract was signed recently and is worth one billion dollars,” he said, adding that some of the firms belonged to relatives of senior Afghan officials.

The additional purchase from the Afghan market leaves the local people short of fuel:

“Since NATO forces started buying on the domestic market, not only have prices increased, but fuel is no longer available consistently,” Hajji Sayed Ahmad, who owns a petrol station in the city’s Deh Mazang district.

The shortage has prompted him to raise his prices, much to the annoyance of his customers.

“We have fights with dozens of people every day,” Ahmad said. “They think it’s our choice to increase fuel prices.... The general public don’t realise that fuel isn’t widely available and that the foreigners are buying it up.”

Kabul taxi drivers have increased their fares, leaving people queuing in the freezing cold for hours as they wait for cheaper but more erratic bus services. Once on the buses, they find that ticket prices have also increased.

As the military can only get 85% of it needs from the north supply from there is obviously limited. The border with Pakistan to the east and south is closed. The only source for additional fuel imports is thereby from Iran.

While it buys through Afghan middlemen the U.S. military will surely know where the fuel actually comes from. One wonders how long Iran will allow this to continue.

Posted by b on January 28, 2012 at 5:03 UTC | Permalink


How long will it continue, Iran being in control? To ask the question is to answer it.

How Iran Controls Afghanistan

Iranian influence is all encompassing--the Islamic government funds Afghan Shiite sects and politicians, has invested in building roads and providing fuel and transport, and is fighting hard against the Afghan opium trade that supplies millions of addicts. But Iran’s lasting power on Afghanistan is cultural as well as political, broadcasting state radio and television programs inside Afghanistan.

Yet the country’s biggest cultural influence is not imposed by the Iranian government. The more than one million repatriating Afghan refugees from Iran – tens of thousands have been deported –bring the dialect, food, music, and clothes particular to Iran.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2012 5:40 utc | 1

there seems to be some confusion here. i don't think the military uses much gasoline at all. seems it's mostly JP-8. it's diesel-like, and so that pdf in the older article from MoA is discussing (petroleum)diesel alternatives: biodiesel (not gasoline, aka petrol). also found some fun charts here, where it does speak of gasoline equivalents, but most of their fuel use is not gasoline, and gasoline use appears to be for non-tactical fleet.

i wouldn't be surprised that they're having fuel shortages in Afghanistan, but i don't understand what it's got to do with gasoline specifically. unless Afghanistan's got a large non-tactical fleet.

Posted by: Proton Soup | Jan 28 2012 7:16 utc | 2

yes, the fuel used for all aircraft, tanks, trucks, generators, and buses is JP8. it is a type of diesel which can be used in jet engines. this changeover took place many years ago so that the military would not have to have supplies of regular and premium gasoline, diesel fuel (summer and winter blends), aviation gas, and JP4 which was the primary jet fuel though the US Navy used JP8.

what might account for demand for gasoline is the US's love for SUVs. As far as I know they are all powered by gasoline engines and everybody has one. no one except regular Army grunts travel in HMMWVs (Humvee). Quads are used a lot as well and some but not all are gasoline powered.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 28 2012 11:02 utc | 3

It doesn't matter which fuel. The available numbers are for "petroleum products". If the U.S. military in Afghanistan sources 15% of what it needs in country it must come from somewhere and the only possible source seems to be Iran. And as every soldier uses a large multitude of what any Afghan uses this will certainly be felt in local market.

Posted by: b | Jan 28 2012 12:57 utc | 4

Is a more likely explanation for high demand for gasoline in Afghanistan the number of "private contractors" working for the American government in Afghanistan? Are they supplied with fuel by the US government? If they're not then wouldn't it be more likely for them to use gasoline rather than JP8? Could the American occupation of Afghanistan continue without all those "private contractors"? Probably not.

It's also important to remember that kerosene is widely used for heating and cooking in many under-developed countries such as Afghanistan so a sharp increase in price has a dramatic impact on all not just those fortunate enough to own motor vehicles.

Posted by: blowback | Jan 28 2012 15:13 utc | 5

Along the line of military expenditures.....

"b" may recall that I posted a reference to an article in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks back about the manpower required to keep a large drone in the air for 24 hrs. Seems to me it was 300 and some odd hours, as opposed to 60 some odd for a manned aircraft. Might have the figures wrong, but it was eye opening, enough so that b linked to the article subsequent to my comment.

Well, the same paper, Thursday, touting the new drone being developed, (which will operate with unprecedented autonomy), stated in their article that these drones are far cheaper to operate than manned aircraft. Hmmmmmm. 300 peeps, versus 60??? Doesn't really compute, does it?

Bottom line, whether we are flying drones, or fueling our military mis-adventures with Iranian oil, the whole military machine is kept alive with lies and illusion. It has reached the point where we cannot believe one single snippet of info that flows out of DC, the Pentagon, or the whores in our media that are tasked to sell us this wad of shit. If we really knew "the truth", we woulda probably burnt Washington DC to the ground many decades ago, and started over with a REAL "representative form of government".

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 28 2012 15:29 utc | 6

TEHRAN - Iran signed an agreement with Afghanistan on Monday to export one million tons per year of gasoil, gasoline and jet fuel to the neighbouring country starting next year, the official IRNA news agency reported.


Iran has exported gasoil to Afghanistan over the past years but the export of gasoline and jet fuel will begin next year," IRNA quoted Ali Reza Zeighami, managing director of the National Iranian Refining and Oil Products Distribution Company, as saying.


Shipping data obtained by Reuters in November showed Iran's October gasoline imports rose more than 21 percent to 63,279 barrels per day from 51,986 bpd in September.

KABUL, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Afghanistan signed a deal with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) on Wednesday for the development of oil blocks in the Amu Darya basin, a project expected to earn the war-torn state billions of dollars over two decades.

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Jan 28 2012 16:00 utc | 7

what is Europe going to do without Iranian oil? :-))

Posted by: somebody | Jan 28 2012 16:09 utc | 8

I gotta run, but for those interested here are some articles on Class III (petroleum, oil & lubricants) supply in Afghanistan. (no smoking gun that I saw)

Petroleum Support in the U.S. Central Command

Challenges of Bulk Fuel Operations

ISAF Logistics

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2012 16:32 utc | 9

now let us all remember this - Thermophylae

yes US you had not been discovered by Vikings yet

yes Germany - you were inhabited by Celts then

actually it is fun to compare with the Wikipedia account of who won :-))

what I really love about globalization is comparing historical accounts ...

now for all the guys- no human ever wins - we all end in the grave ...

Posted by: somebody | Jan 28 2012 17:22 utc | 10

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