Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 02, 2018

Afghanistan - A Pipeline, Peace And Many Spoilers

Peace negotiations in Afghanistan had long stalled. But that recently changed in a surprising way. Secret negotiations between many parties must have taken place to suddenly achieve these two results:

Both, the Taliban support for TAPI as well as President Ghani's offer are new. Just two weeks ago Ghani still rejected unconditional talks.


The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline has been negotiated about since the early 1990s. It is supposed to bring gas from Central Asia to Pakistan and India. Only Russian pipelines are currently connecting Turkmenistan and its large gas reserves to its export markets. This is one reason why the U.S. always pushed for the project. The U.S. company Unocal was heavily involved. One of its consultants was Zalmay Khalilzad who later became U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and then Iraq.

The pipeline project has a long unruly history. It was a major reason why the U.S. wanted to topple the Taliban. 9/11 gave it a pretext to invade Afghanistan and by late 2001 the Taliban government had ended.

But the $10 billion TAPI project took another 14 years before the first pipes were laid. After its Taliban client government in Afghanistan had been toppled Pakistan became hostile to the project. There were also disputes about prices and Indian-Pakistani hostilities. Pakistan then negotiated over gas supplies from Iran. But the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline was never finished. The U.S. had pressed on India to not commit to buying from Iran. Pakistan is now back at supporting TAPI. It is probably the reason why the Taliban have agreed to protect the project within the areas they control. But I suspect that there is more behind the move. Some wider agreement must have been found about future of Afghanistan. How many cabinet seats can the Taliban claim? How much influence is Pakistan allowed to have?

Construction for the TAPI pipeline in Turkmenistan began in 2015. Construction in Afghanistan started this year on February 24. The U.S. is in control of the financing of the whole project.

One should not bet on any date for the final commissioning of the pipeline. The U.S. support for the pipeline is aimed at diminishing Russian and Chinese influence in Central Asia. An analysis of the larger markets points at additional potential spoilers of the project:

TAPI is in direct competition not only to the Iranian IPI project, but also to LNG exporters, among which are such countries as Qatar, Australia, USA, Canada and Russia, together they export an estimated 30bn m³/yr to India.

By pursuing the TAPI pipeline the U.S. is trying to dominate in an area that is far from its shores and where it has little control. More than 25 years after the project was first envisioned it will still require tons of money, years of work and a lot of luck to succeed. There are many parties who might want to interfere with the project and who know the area much better than the U.S. ever will.

The biggest risk though is the aggressive militant approach the U.S. is still taking towards the Taliban. The intense U.S. air campaign against their interests and operations continues with little gain. Meanwhile the Taliban control nearly half of the country. A series of attacks against the central government in Kabul has undermined the public confidence in the Ghani government. Just today another suicide bomb hit the capital.

The recent announcements show that the peace negotiations and the pipeline are intimately connected. If the talks fail, the Taliban support for the pipeline will end too. If the pipeline does not become operable, the U.S. may finally leave. Many people may want to achieve that.

Posted by b on March 2, 2018 at 20:22 UTC | Permalink


If I recall, Russia wanted to monopolize the sales of Turkmen natural gas and Gazprom made a "pay or play" contract that was heavily loosing money when the oil prices went down. This lead to a series of pipeline accidents that were very difficult to repair, so Russia avoided paying twice what they were getting in Europe. Not to leave Turkmen with absolute poverty, the pipeline capacity through Kazakhstan to China was sufficiently increased.

Thus it is not precise to say that Russia controls Turkmen export -- if the importer is China than nothing obstructs the transactions (Kazakhstan has "no problem" foreign policy, being nice to Russia, China, Turkey and perhaps Iran too). The general observation is that "inconvenient" pipelines simply explode. The above pipeline map would be plausible if southern Afghanistan were converted into Taliban emirate that would be satisfied with transit fees. Or if Taliban were eliminated, a long term goal that does not progress as much as needed.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 2 2018 20:50 utc | 1

I wonder where IS in Afghanistan falls in this equation. If they're against the pipeline I would imagine it would be very hard to keep it running without being blown up.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Mar 2 2018 20:52 utc | 2

Personally, I am skeptical about a prospect of a negotiated agreement with Taliban. Pakistan tried that with their own Taliban and it ended in tears.

Feb 21, 2009 - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Taliban and the government of North West Frontier Province in Pakistan have agreed to a permanent cease-fire in the nation's volatile Swat Valley, an official said."

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 2 2018 20:57 utc | 3

As I checked on Swat, I found that it was a literary topic long time ago:

Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?

Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
The Akond of Swat?

Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
or HOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he drink his soup and his coffe cold,
or HOT,
The Akond of Swat?

Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk
or TROT,
The Akond of Swat?

Our understanding improved very little in the last 100+ years.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 2 2018 21:03 utc | 4

@1 piotor.

a country the size of europe with the population the size of israel cant real cause problems.

Posted by: pB | Mar 2 2018 21:05 utc | 5

The US is now following an energy war strategy against Russia and Iran. This is both economic gain for US market share (Trump's plan) and the continuation of hegemony (Cheney's old plan). Both are backed by CENTCOM and the neocon scheme to contain China and Russia and disrupt Eurasian Development and Belts and Roads Initiatives.

I think the one more year of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine issues just extended today by Trump signals he is all in the Afghan War for one more year. And the Syrian War just saw an expansion from 14 US bases to 20 bases in Syria, as well as 600 more troops to the base at alTanf. Trump is all in for more war in Syria.

The market the US covets is gas, natural gas and LNG. But there is also pressure on nations to not go with Russian nuclear energy. As well, we see everywhere nations indicate they prefer and are ready to purchase Russian military systems (S-400, jet fighters, helicopters, for instance), the US is pressuring them to not dare to purchase Russian goods.

So, for the next year at least, Trump won't take his foot off the accelerator. There wil be more of the seven wars, especially Syria and Afghanistan. Ukraine will go hot sooner or later. The US is all in for this proxy war.
Yemen looks as endless as ever.

And if somehow Bibi survives for the next year, he will cajole Trump to go against Hezbollah, knowing his IDF cannot handle that army on its own.

UK and Jordan are all in (sadly, the King has no cajones) for more ME war. There will be every kind of attempt to dislodge Assad.

Russia may have to face the hard truth that only a severe body bag episode against the US troops in Syria and Afghanistan (big enough to outrage and discourage the public in an election year) will change things.

Trump promised an end to US involvement. It is one of the promises unkept.

He will need every vote in 2018 and losing a large number of troops will reverse his policy.
Anything less, and those wars will go on and on.

Gas is the means to an end. The end is crippling Russia, Iran and China.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Mar 2 2018 21:11 utc | 6

This Pepe Escobar article I posted last Monday to the open thread, but it got overlooked it appears.

Lots of action behind the SCO curtain, and it seems TAPI is to become part of BRI. Other important stirrings as the longstanding impasse in relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is to be addressed in a Summit between the two nations leaders this month. Also action at the CSTO as it appears both Russia and China are pushing the Stans to iron out their differences so a common policy toward stamping out any vestige of a terrorist threat can move forward as a precursor to BRI activity.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 2 2018 21:17 utc | 7

This Asia Times article provides some additional information, including this interesting spin at its conclusion:

"The deal, however, does not make a clear mention of one of Taliban’s most prominent demands — the withdrawal of US forces.

"'A large number of foreign troops have already left and those here are here to help improve the capacity of the Afghan army,' Faisal said. 'Even if there was no war, or Taliban insurgency, or a single shot fired, we would still need to train our troops to protect our sovereignty.'

"The Taliban should not blame this on the US. 'This peace deal is a wholly Afghan-led process,' he assured."

Concerted push-back against the Outlaw US Empire is happening globally in a manner never before seen. For me, the key question is How long will the vassals cower in fear, particularly those speaking Spanish and Portuguese.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 2 2018 21:35 utc | 8

I see not much sense in that. US-Pakistan relations are bad, Chinese are building ports in Iran and Iran-Pakistan even India pipeline is now politically possible , the only advantage of Afghan pipeline now is on Russian side since they always wanted to export crude oil to India, and that was why we had first Afghan war of Soviet intervention few years after Afghan government sold concessions to western companies and that ended Soviet aim to supply friendly back then India with crude oil and increase influence providing security against US navy domination and ability of blockades.

Posted by: Kalen | Mar 2 2018 22:02 utc | 9

Kalen @9

Crude is transported by tankers very economically, unlike natural gas that has to be compressed, liquified and transported in ships that satisfy very high standards, or otherwise they explode. Strategic interest of Russia is completing Iran-Pakistan pipeline, so Iran gets a good market in the Indian subcontinent and decreases interest in European market. If that pipeline is complete, Turkmenistan can tap to it too, via Iran. Needless to say, the internal security in Iran is orders of magnitude better than in Afghanistan, so without American sabotage that project would be completed long time ago. In the same time, investing billions on the basis of an agreement with Taliban makes no commercial sense (they want carte blanche within Afghanistan and nothing less).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 2 2018 22:45 utc | 10

thanks b.. i kind of see it like @10 piotr here.. making a deal that is dependent on the taliban seems shaky.. what is the relationship between isis and taliban? i am sure the usa knows!

and, i mostly see it like @6 red ryder too... it is hard to read where we are at the moment in any different light, given the usa's unwillingness to cease and desist with it's present foreign policy agenda...

Posted by: james | Mar 2 2018 23:30 utc | 11

I read a report that the Chinese had quietly stationed 500 regular troops in extreme northern solve some security issues with the OBOR project...has any one else heard anymore? I believe it was Duff at VT...


Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 3 2018 0:09 utc | 12

The United States is doing what it can, but reality is: the situation now, in 2018, is completely different from 2001.

In 2001 the USA had plenty of cash to spend on infrastructure; in 2001 Russia was still on its knees (Putin had just taken over the mess Yeltsin -- the man who sold the USSR for two boxes of Jack Daniels -- left); in 2001, 2008 still hadn't happened; in 2001, the Belt and Road Initiative didn't exist.

Now, the situation is much more dire for the Americans than in 2001. Not only that, but in 2001 the USA had all the means necessary to consolidate the unipolar order, by carving up the Heartland, coopting India completely and directing all its resources to besieging China -- the last socialist bastion, and the true enemy. That's why you don't left for tomorrow what you can do today.

Posted by: VK | Mar 3 2018 1:19 utc | 13

I always assumed that ISIS in afghanistan was subcontracting to amerika, an effort to split the opposition to imperialism between the Taliban and ISIS in order to weaken the Taliban.
The agreement indicates that may be the case. It is important to remember that in organisations such as ISIS whatever 'the troops' think is irrelevant - remember how the first tranche of foreign fighters in Syria thought they were in Israel fighting zionism? decisions are made 'top down' where old men greedy for material return to boost their families can ignore internal contradiction with a drop of whataboutery eg "Well some of the taliban are traffickers of smack" blah blah. I dunno if there is any truth to that but I do know that pernicious gossip has taken hold among some afghans.

The Taliban are still a much more disciplined force than ISIS which is why the amerikan empire would like to cut a deal, but I cannot see the empire winning in the long term because this 'deal' opens em up to be vulnerable to the same sort of division they like to inflict on others. The Taliban should have little difficulty in pushing a wedge between the amerikan empire and the afghan government.

Then we'll see how viable this pipeline is.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 3 2018 1:34 utc | 14

Sergy Lavrov

...We agreed to step up efforts to build up trade and economic cooperation. We emphasised the importance of intensive activity by the Russian-Pakistani Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation, the fifth meeting of which was held in Moscow last November and produced solid results. The implementation of these things is crucial in bringing our bilateral trade to a level that better suits our countries’ potentials.

A commission on military-technical cooperation is being set up in keeping with last year’s intergovernmental agreement in this area.

We discussed prospects for energy cooperation, which is one of our priorities. Our flagship project is the construction of the North-South gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore under an intergovernmental agreement signed in 2015. Other opportunities are also being considered, including Gazprom liquefied gas supplies to Pakistan and the construction of regional pipelines, among them the Iran-Pakistan-India subsea gas pipeline.

Additional opportunities opened up after Islamabad joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a full member. As you know, at the SCO summit in Astana last June, India and Pakistan were admitted to the organisation. We agreed to build up our cooperation within the SCO framework. As our colleagues reaffirmed today, Pakistan will continue integrating itself into the SCO’s practical activities and across its entire broad agenda, including the promotion of security in the region...

...Sergey Lavrov: Yes, today we discussed Afghanistan and the roots ISIS is taking there. We are seriously concerned. Likewise, we are worried that the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan fail to mention this danger, deny facts and even claim that they are not true. According to the data available to us and our Pakistani colleagues, these facts are true. ISIS has established a considerable presence in northern and eastern Afghanistan – approximately a thousand terrorists – and continues to increase it. As for the dangers you mentioned regarding the border with our Central Asian neighbours, it is true that there is an increased risk of terrorists entering Central Asia, which is an easy route into Russia and other countries. We believe that efforts must be redoubled to preclude these developments.

Pakistan and India have recently become full members of the SCO, which now has all the key neighbours of Afghanistan among its members. Afghanistan has observer status in the SCO. The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which resumed operation last autumn at Russia’s initiative, will focus on these issues. The group has held its first meeting in Moscow and is preparing for the second meeting, which our Chinese colleagues will host.

I would like to mention the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, which we discussed today as well. We can use it to develop practical measures to curtail ISIS influence in Afghanistan and prevent it from spreading to Central Asia. As I have said, we will promote a reform of this anti-terrorist structure so that it will not only deal with counterterrorism but will also be used to fight the drug trafficking.

Regrettably, the years-long presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan has not reduced the terrorist threat, while the drug threat has grown manifold. This data has been provided by the UN and cannot be disregarded. We are still waiting for our US colleagues to answer the questions we have asked them many times regarding the public statements made by some regional Afghan leaders about unidentified helicopters making flights to the Afghan regions where terrorists have their bases. Nobody can explain the reason for these flights. These legitimate questions are being avoided....
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 3 2018 1:56 utc | 15

RR @ 6 said:"Gas is the means to an end. The end is crippling Russia, Iran and China."
Unless the empire maintains hegemony in the region, and the above mentioned goal can be achieved, no pipeline will be built.

Posted by: ben | Mar 3 2018 2:09 utc | 16

So is there really a US NAVY secret Space programe?
Do they eat fish and drink ouzo?
What does Putin know and what do Russians want?
Can you teleport a submarine between Langley Virginia and the Aegean?
Is there such a marine base that far inland inside the US in Virginia?
What do CERN scientists know?
Why do US warships keep bumping at sea tankers?
What does China know?
What ouzo has to do with all of this?

So.. let's begin the journey down the rabit... network...

Posted by: ha siktir | Mar 3 2018 4:03 utc | 17

Berman @ 4

Nice doggerel! Here's another one (by George Lanigan):

What, what, what,
What’s the news from Swat?
Sad news,
Bad news,
Comes by the cable led
Through the Indian Ocean’s bed,
Through the Persian Gulf, the Red
Sea and the Med-
Iterranean—he’s dead;
The Ahkoond is dead!

Posted by: FB Ali | Mar 3 2018 4:40 utc | 18

@ Piotr Berman

Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are totally different organizations in terms of operations and ideology. Afghan Taliban respect international borders, are open to a negotiated settlement of conflict, with US withdrawal as a precondition (and they are non flexibke on that). They have a form of diplomatic relations with other countries. They have a policy of not atacking civilians and take care to avoid civilian casualties although it does happen but that is the reality of war unfortunately. Although they are touted as proxies of pakistan, they are fiercely independent (for example, when they were in power, they refused to accept the Durand Line as official border with pakistan although both countries had excellent relations and it was a good opportunity to solve the longstanding issue).
Pakistani Taliban are a different organization although they have a similar name. They are a purely terrorist organization and very close in ideology to isis (that is why many isis recruits in afghanistan are formerly pakistani taliban who shifted to afghanistan after pakistani army carried out a big operation). They have a policy of kiling civilians and have carried out some of the most horrific attacks surpassing even isis, most prominent one where they attacked a school in pakistan and killed 130 children. Afghan NDS and indian raw have developed ties with them and NDS issued them travel documents to travel freely within afghanistan. Plus the mastermind of the school attack in peshawar, umar khalid khurasani was given treatment in India when he got seriously inhured. This was revealed by ehsan ullah ehsan who was spokesman of pakistani taliban and later surrendered to the pakistani state and his confessional videos are freely available. Thenegotiations you mentioned with them were held when they were evolving, their policies were not clear and they were considered as disgruntled tribals who could be talked to (back in 2006_2007).

Posted by: Bilal | Mar 3 2018 4:51 utc | 19

November 8, 1984.
Greece, Athens.
East Attica.
Penteli road.
Road connecting Athens to top of Penteli mountain towards secret US Naval research facility, part of three unnoficial US Naval research facilities active from (1977 to 1983) - then again 1989 until 1992) strategically located around the Marathon valey where the real battle of Marathon took place, where 11.000 Greek hoplites drive 110.000 attacking Persians back to the sea that were reportedly dissorientated and started killing each other, believing that apparritions of giants and other strange phenomena were attacking them.

Russian embassy motorcade, official Russian embassy plate numbers, rushing to reach the plateau of the US base, unexpectedly veering of the road all 3 of them. Events were officialy reported to Athens Traffic police including witnesses.
Convoy was targeted with a device from the naval base plateau.
It seems later on this technology would be leaked to the Chinesse.
Hence the ongoing "Arleigh Burke incidents".

Posted by: ha siktir | Mar 3 2018 5:06 utc | 20

This is a very odd story because the Taliban have been threatening to blow up any pipeline project for over a decade. A little on background:

In 2010, Exxon was trying to get into the Turkmenistan gas field (Galkynysh):

Oct 27 2010
“(Reuters) - U.S. energy major ExxonMobil (XOM.N) has reopened its office in Turkmenistan and said it was keen to develop its giant natural gas resources. Turkmenistan, Central Asia’s largest natural gas producer estimated to hold the world’s fourth-largest reserves of the fuel, is eager to triple its current annual output of some 75 billion cubic metres (bcm) within 20 years.”

For whatever reason, this effort by Exxon failed and China came in:
Sep 4 2013
“GALKYNYSH GAS FIELD, Turkmenistan (Reuters) - China’s President Xi Jinping helped inaugurate the world’s second-largest gas field in Turkmenistan on Wednesday, showing Beijing’s growing clout in Central Asia as it seeks resources for the Chinese economy. . .Galkynysh, which means“Renaissance” in Turkmen and holds an estimated 13.1 trillion to 21.2 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves, will supply an additional 25 bcm a year to China by 2020 on top of existing contracts to increase shipments by 20 bcm in coming years.”

So, if the Taliban are still in alliance with Pakistani’s ISI (see Steve Coll’s recent “Directorate S” talks on youtube) and Pakistan wants the gas pipeline to go through, and China is now a close economic ally of Pakistan. . .

Could this all be a part of the expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative? The US/British oil & gas consortiums seem to be entirely out of the picture; Russia is not really an important player; this looks to be entirely a China project. Here’s something else supporting that picture:

Dec 26 2017,
“BEIJING: Ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and China met in Beijing on Tuesday where they agreed to work together to tackle the threat of terrorism. The first trilateral meeting of foreign ministers from the countries comes as China steps up its investment in its neighbouring nations as part of its trillion-dollar One Belt One Road investment initiative.”

That’s a sign that China’s economic push is driving this, I think. Russia and the US are on the sidelines.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Mar 3 2018 6:31 utc | 21

Red Ryder 6
The levels of anti- Chinese rant and obfuscation in Australia are reaching ridiculous proportions. Today's broadsheet ' The Australian' had nigh on three pages of tendentious propaganda - amongst which was a column syndicated from London's 'The Economist' . A page long expose of how China's power and reach across the millennia has been exaggerated - therefore the implicit argument is that China is not so central to Australia's future - left me smiling . What other national system exists that can be discussed in terms of a continuity over many thousands of years?
I fear all of this bodes ill for the unfolding of events in the Asia-PACIFIC!

Posted by: ashley albanese | Mar 3 2018 7:38 utc | 22

Afghanistan - A Pipeline, Peace And Many Spoilers

...just don't hold any grudges when you plan your next trip.

Posted by: john | Mar 3 2018 12:05 utc | 23

Oldenyoung @12:

(Chinese troops in Northern Afganistan)

Pepe Escobar talked about it somewhat: China’s latest move in the graveyard of empires. I had seen another report on this, but can’t locate it atm.

Posted by: Philippe | Mar 3 2018 13:33 utc | 24

the taliban were in houston for negotiations in the 90's.

who were guarding the oil blocks in iraq when isis ran it over should be made known too.

who came back as soon as iraq liberated itself?

the pipeline to supply india from the middle east will be made regardless of other's meddling. i suspect india will see that their friends are actually throwing a blockade on not just iran but india to stop her from regional power by ways of petroleum. the nuke test from india proved she woke up to british and us dreams of pakistan india conflict.

but after putin announcements, i suspect India will too seeing as how phillipines and south korea are just killing zones not far from japan guam hawaii and ultimately seattle and the entire mainland of united states of america.

Posted by: json1490 | Mar 3 2018 13:34 utc | 25

The US is shipping ISIS to Afghanistan to 'justify' its continued occupation of Afghanistan, irrespective of the wishes of the Taliban or whatever. Even if the pipelinbe doesn't get built to operational status, the beserkers in the US would regard it as a 'win' if Russia/China was also stopped. Continued destabilisation of Afghanistan is an ongoing profit center for the USMIC which won't go away if they can help it

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 3 2018 14:12 utc | 26

Gareth Porter explains the deliberately biased CIA analysis of Iran nuclear program, including the refusal to consider information provided by reliable Iran spy, and reliance instead upon MEK/Israel false information.
Operation Merlin is the perfect example of powerful bureaucratic interests running amok and creating the intelligence necessary to justify their operations. The net result is that Jeffrey Sterling was unjustly imprisoned and that the United States has gone down a path of Iran policy that poses serious – and unnecessary – threats to American security.

Posted by: mauisurfer | Mar 3 2018 16:46 utc | 27

Strange news indeed:

The past US support for TAPI was definitely connected to the Exxon/Chevron drive to control the major Turkemenistan gas field; but they lost that bid to China in 2013, which may have changed the whole picture. China now looks like Pakistan’s major ally. . .

Could be that the US will try to use proxy ISIS forces to destablize the growing economic cooperation with China? That was the play in Syria with the aim of disrupting the Iran-Syria-Lebanon economic cooperation.

Looks like the USA’s only remaining economic game plan is the Tonya Harding strategy, doesn’t it?

Posted by: nonsense factory | Mar 3 2018 17:06 utc | 28

Another gem from Gareth Porter:

another GP germ

> Furthermore, Israeli officials are refusing to acknowledge that Iran's objective in building up and improving Hezbollah's missile force has always been the deterrence of Israeli or US military attack on Iran or an Israeli attack on Hezbollah. Iranian officials began providing thousands of rockets to Hezbollah to bolster its own deterrent capacity when its own missile deterrent force was still in its infancy. At that time, Israel's anti-missile system might well have intercepted any missiles it might fire at Israel, as Ephraim Kam, a specialist on Iran at Israel's Jaffe Centre for Strategic Studies, observed in December 2004.
> Israeli officials have long boasted that they have effectively deterred Hezbollah from a missile attack on Israel. But what is never discussed is the need to deter Israel's use of military force. The IDF began planning its attack on Hezbollah in detail more than a year before the 2006 campaign. One of Israel's aims in launching the attack, according to strategic analyst Edward Luttwak, who has deep ties with Israel, was to destroy enough of Hezbollah's missile force in a lightning offensive to persuade the George W. Bush administration to drop its opposition to an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites

> Although Israeli officials would never admit it officially, by thwarting Israel and building an increasingly powerful arsenal of missiles, Hezbollah has established a relatively stable peace with Israel for more than a decade. As Seth Cropsey of the pro-Israel Hudson Institute has reluctantly acknowledged, "Hezbollah is the only force that Israel has faced that has extracted an operational and strategic stalemate from the IDF."
> The war that Israel is planning in Syria is at least in part a response to its inability to use force against Hezbollah in Lebanon. And it is not going to alter the fundamental power equation either in Syria or between Israel and Hezbollah

Posted by: mauisurfer | Mar 3 2018 17:37 utc | 29

By the way, this TAPI pipeline is not going to lift Turkmenistan out of the "absolute poverty" that Piotr @1 mentions, because the problem is not gas export pipelines. I know the country moderately well, having done a project there in 2012, after other work in 96. The problem is the regime, who go to extremes in the character of an oil-state, in that all the gas revenues are paid to the state, who put it in their pocket. The population of Turkmenistan is very small, and even the present systems of export should allow moderate prosperity. But it hasn't happened. Instead the state paid the French company Bouygues Construction to build golden-domed public buildings, and apartment blocks lining the avenues, which remain empty because nobody can pay the rent.

The dictatorship is Stalinian on the surface, but actually underneath much like the Central Asian Khanates of the late medieval period. The Turkmens are very calm people - I much liked an an Iranian film about Turkmens called "Frontier Blues" (in English) - that's why such oppression succeeds.

I always doubted that pipelines play much of a role in international politics, because so vulnerable. I would have thought that the Afghan government are parlaying with the Taliban because they are losing, in a serious way, and can't admit it to the Americans.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 3 2018 19:33 utc | 30

“I always doubted that pipelines play much of a role in international politics, because so vulnerable.” - Laguerre

Err, that’s why they try to put in strong military regimes in these countries, so they can get their natural resources out without having the pipelines and other infrastructure sabotaged, blown up, etc. Clearly pipelines have played major roles in the late 1990s Balkan conflict, in the 2008 Georgian conflict, in the coup in the Ukraine, in the regime change operation in Syria, in the sanctions regime targeting Iran (to block the IPI pipeline), and in the persisitent efforts of Bush/Condi Rice and then Obama/Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan.

I’m pretty surprised that the Taliban pledged to protect TAPI though, it has to mean something major has changed. The Pakistani ISI must be backing the TAPI pipeline now, and that must have something to do with China and Pakistan’s growing alliance.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Mar 3 2018 23:08 utc | 31

Oil and gas are often of little benefit to the masses of people who live where they are produced. We have seen this in Africa as well.

And rural communities in America along pipeline routes see a brief economic boom, followed by a spike in housing costs (nobody is going to invest in building permanent housing for temporary workers) and then another period of bust.

Norway seems to be an exception: instead of just providing cheap oil and gas for its people, they are investing it in a national trust fund to promote renewable, future-proof industries and technologies.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 4 2018 13:15 utc | 32

Perhaps the end of IS will come at the hands of the Taliban.

Posted by: morongobill | Mar 4 2018 15:22 utc | 33

re 31

Haven't you figured it out that it's not worth it? You can't "create" the necessary security for a pipeline. You can only exploit security which exists. The idea that it's pipelines as motive is typical of conspiracy theorists on blogs like this. I've literally never seen the explanation in professional analyses, though I suppose there might be some nutters somewhere. There's an awful lot of poor analysis of M.E. questions.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 4 2018 16:29 utc | 34

I always doubted that pipelines play much of a role in international politics, because so vulnerable - Laguerre.

Yes, energy is super vital. Its transport, e.g. pipelines, as well.

But not to a point of supreme importance. For ex. in the USA the PTB cares not a whit if citizens starve, kill each other, are killed by State Agents (Police State, Prison Industry), work or not, vote left or right, etc. etc. The PTB gave up long ago on keeping the population joining the so called ‘middle class’, so ‘growth’ is dead as well, etc., though pretense is offered up.

The control and apportioning and managing and profiting from Energy (fossil fuels, free bounty from the Earth) is no longer the purview of one Nation against another, but that of a very large cast of actors - multiple Cos. and their shareholders, Nation state proprietors, mixed agreements, and all the lobbyists, etc.

They actually rail against war (e.g. the invasion of Iraq) because it disrupts the consequent *huuge* investments made for extraction, refining, transport, selling, shunting to the end point customer. Small disruptions are bad - war is terrible.

All extractive energy industries require very long term, at least 15-20 years, stability to exploit, extract, and return profits. Since 1975.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 4 2018 16:51 utc | 35

Laguerre@ 34

To understand the pipeline war issue one must understand the principles of globalism. Globalism is based on control of resources and their flow, transportation routes and free movement of labor and capital for the benefit of the "Masters of the Universe". I am not speaking of Macron or Trump as they are just easily controlled puppets of the men/women behind the curtain just as in the ORIGINAL story of the Wizard of OZ.

One must also understand the concept of delay loops in system dynamics as it applies to pipeline geopolitics. Those who were actively connected the Caspian oil connection the Western wars against FRY such as Dirtboy, Hamiltonian and RobbinsJ4 understood the delay loop between discovery of the sweet oil of the Caspian Sea and the war plans to control the oil and its transportation routes into Europe. While while the wars against FRY were somewhat successful the CIA destabilisation of Dagestan and Chechnya failed. The previous USGS Caspian oil estimates of 200 BBL were later found to be at least five time too high and much of it turned out to be high sulfide sour oil resulting in the pipelines failing due to corrosion.

Returning to the Afghanistan pipeline war one must understand the CIA years of preplanning of the war against the USSR using proxy forces of the southern Pashtun mountain people and the Pakistan intelligence services against the USSR supported northern Pashtun and the other ethic peoples of Afghanistan that the USSR saved from the previous Maoist regime. Those who followed this conflict closely will recognize that the opposition to the US armed and equipped Taliban pashtun terrorists was armed by Russia and Iran.

The Turkmanistan pipeline to Pakistan via Afghanistan reason for the US invasion was first discussed by the first education minister for Afghanistan. This occurred just following the defeat of the Previously US supported southern Pashtun forces backed by US and Al Qaeda shock troops under Bin Laden with Saudi funding. The Minister in question was a professor from George Fox University and the lectures where he presented this case were held at Oregon State University.

Following the conquest of Afghanistan the pipeline route remained insecure and the US and their European allies encouraged and protected the poppy production and smuggling in order to destabilize Russia and Iran. Iran alone has lost thousands of troops in fights with the smugglers. The smuggling routes across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Mak(c)adonia, Albania and into Italy have been widely reported on and contributed to the US support for the KLA mafia terrorists in their war against the FRY in Kosovo (not Kosova).

The reason that most people do not understand the resource wars is that they do not realise the delay loops which are meant to cover the trail of planning for the war.

Posted by: Krollchem | Mar 5 2018 1:26 utc | 36

@36 Krollchem.. thanks for that..

related to afgan/pakistan and etc..
an interesting briefing from the usa press dept today for anyone who is interested and might miss it..

an example

" MS WELLS: I can’t speak to arming of the Taliban. What I can speak to are concerns that we have by Russia and by Iran that justify the Taliban on the basis that they are opposed to ISIS Khorasan. And this breakdown in consensus against the Taliban and the idea that there should be diplomatic intelligence liaison with the Taliban, we think, is quite detrimental to peace and prospects for peace because it sustains a Taliban ecosystem that has encouraged and supported these terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

The way to defeat ISIS Khorasan is to strengthen the Government of Afghanistan and to work with the Government of Afghanistan to defeat ISIS. It’s not to support the Taliban. And so that’s our concern over what we’ve seen as hedging behavior by countries in the region."

Posted by: james | Mar 6 2018 3:34 utc | 37

Pakistan and India have recently become full members of the SCO, which now has all the key neighbours of Afghanistan among its members. Afghanistan has observer status in the SCO. The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which resumed operation last autumn at Russia’s initiative, will focus on these issues. The group has held its first meeting in Moscow and is preparing for the second meeting, which our Chinese colleagues will host.

I would like to mention the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, which we discussed today as well. We can use it to develop practical measures to curtail ISIS influence in Afghanistan and prevent it from spreading to Central Asia. As I have said, we will promote a reform of this anti-terrorist structure so that it will not only deal with counterterrorism but will also be used to fight the drug trafficking.

Posted by: تابلو برجسته | Mar 21 2018 19:59 utc | 38

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