[OPE-L:6051] war

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 12:54:38 EDT

the problem that the US confronts in Afghanistan is the 
setting up of a legitimate govt that somehow keeps the Persian speaking Afghani 
ethnic groups (the Hazaras and the Tajiks) out of power. The US had supported 
the Taleban because it could rely on this Pakhtoon based govt to protect its 
oil interests from Iran. At present, the US has been trying to run the 
pipelines East-West, and through Turkey. Iran poses a problem because it is the 
lowest cost route to Asia, and the Norwegian oil firms have shown an interest 
in going through Iran from Turkmenistan which the US will probably try to 
pressure using the carrot of the security services which it can offer. The US 
has been seeking to keep Iran out of the pipeline business (remember the US 
retains sanctions on Iran, Libya and Iraq--which has decreased supply into US 
markets). Because of a fear of Iranian influence,  the US has not been willing 
to allow a  multi-ethnic, democratic govt to gain power  in Afghanistan.  Oil 
and gas must flow through Iran and Afghanistan to meet demand in Asia most 
efficiently, but the profits are not to be shared with  Iran. 

The first Unocal consortium for the pipeline through Afghanistan included 
Japan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, but Iran was excluded. It's not reasonable that 
Iran will stand aside as the massively profitable Caspian Sea pipeliness 
business is developed, but this has indeed been the goal of US policy. The US 
would obviously like to ensure that the Afghani govt comissions  American 
companies for the pipelines that go through its country. Whether the US can 
install an unequivocally pro US (anti Iranian) Afghani govt that is both  
internationally recognized and capable of keeping ethnic stability remains to  
be seen. Does not seem to be much basis for optimism.I can't see how the US 
lives the Northern Alliance, however much it may rely on the Northern Alliance 
in the short term. It would seem that the US would like to split the Pakhtoon 
based Taleban govt and and hook them up with the Uzbeks who are not Persian 
speaking. This will also pacify Pakistan which has wanted Pakhtoon chauvinist 
govt to its North.  But the US interest in  setting up a stable, albeit anti 
Iranian,  govt seems to explain why the US has been so eager to extend  its war 
against al Qaeda to the Taleban govt itself.


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