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Are the Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Really About Oil?

The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil … They’re Also About GAS

The Iraq war was really about oil, according to Alan Greenspan, John McCain, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, a high-level National Security Council officer and others.

Dick Cheney made Iraqi’s oil fields a national security priority before 9/11.

The Sunday Herald reported:

Five months before September 11, the US advocated using force against Iraq … to secure control of its oil.

The Afghanistan war was planned before 9/11 (see this and this).   According to French intelligence officers, the U.S. wanted to run an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to transport Central Asian oil more easily and cheaply. And so the U.S. told the Taliban shortly before 9/11 that they would either get “a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs”, the former if they greenlighted the pipeline, the second if they didn’t. See this, this and this.

Congressman Ed Markey said:

Well, we’re in Libya because of oil.

Senator Graham agreed.

And the U.S. and UK overthrew the democratically-elected leader of Iran because he announced that he would nationalize the oil industry in that country.

It’s a War for GAS

But it’s about gas as much as oil …

As key war architect John Bolton said last year:

The critical oil and natural gas producing region that we fought so many wars to try and protect our economy from the adverse impact of losing that supply or having it available only at very high prices.

For example, the pipeline which the U.S. wanted to run through Afghanistan prior to 9/11 was to transport gas as much as oil.

John C.K. Daly notes:

The proposed $7.6 billion, 1,040 mile-long TAPI [Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India … admittedly a mouthful, but you’ll be hearing a lot about it in the coming months] natural gas pipeline has a long regional history, having first been proposed even before the Taliban captured Kabul, as in 1995 Turkmenistan and Pakistan initialed a memorandum of understanding. TAPI, with a carrying capacity of 33 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas a year, was projected to run from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gas field across Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate at the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka.

TAPI would have required the assent of the Taliban, and two years after the MoU was signed the Central Asia Gas Pipeline Ltd. consortium, led by U.S. company Unocal, flew a Taliban delegation to Unocal headquarters in Houston, where the Taliban signed off on the project.

The Taliban visit to the U.S. has been confirmed by the mainstream media.  Indeed, here is a picture of the Taliban delegation visiting Unocal’s Houston headquarters in 2007:

078 taliban in texas2050081722 8583 The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

U.S. companies such as Unocal (lead on the proposed pipeline) and Enron (and see this), with full U.S. government support, continued to woo the Taliban right up until 2001 in an attempt to sweet-talk them into green-lighting the pipeline.

For example, two French authors with extensive experience in intelligence analysis (one of them a former French secret service agent) – claim:

Until August [2001], the US government saw the Taliban regime “as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia” from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. Until now, says the book, “the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that.”

Pepe Escobar notes:

Under newly elected president George W Bush… Unocal snuck back into the game and, as early as January 2001, was cozying up to the Taliban yet again, this time supported by a star-studded governmental cast of characters, including undersecretary of state Richard Armitage, himself a former Unocal lobbyist.

***

Negotiations eventually broke down because of those pesky transit fees the Taliban demanded. Beware the Empire’s fury. At a Group of Eight summit meeting in Genoa in July 2001, Western diplomats indicated that the Bush administration had decided to take the Taliban down before year’s end. (Pakistani diplomats in Islamabad would later confirm this to me.) The attacks of September 11, 2001 just slightly accelerated the schedule.

Soon after the start of the Afghan war, Karzai became president (while Le Monde reported that Karzai was a Unocal consultant, it is possible that it was a mix-up with the Unocal consultant and neocon who got Karzai  elected, Zalmay Khalilzad).  In any event, a mere year later, a U.S.-friendly Afghani regime signed onto TAPI.

India just formally signed on to Tapi. This ended the long-proposed competitor: an Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline.

Competing Pipe Dreams

Virtually all of the current global geopolitical tension is based upon whose vision of the “New Silk Road” will control.

But before we can understand the competing visions, we have to actually see the maps:

bw The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GASgasSupplyAndDemand The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

bw The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GASsouthAndBluestream The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

And here are the competing pipelines backed by the U.S. and by Iran, before India sided with the U.S.:

TAPI%2Band%2BIPI%2BPipelines The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GASWith maps in hand, we can now discuss the great geopolitical battle raging between the U.S. and its allies, on the one hand, and Russia, China and Iran, on the other hand.

Iran and Pakistan are still discussing a pipeline without India, and Russia backs the proposal as well.

Indeed, the “Great Game” being played right now by the world powers largely boils down to the United States and Russia fighting for control over Eurasian oil and gas resources:

Russia and the USA have been in a state of competition in this region, ever since the former Soviet Union split up, and Russia is adamant on keeping the Americans out of its Central Asian backyard. Russia aims to increase European gas dominance on its resources whereas the US wants the European Union (EU) to diversify its energy supply, primarily away from Russian dominance. There are already around three major Russian pipelines that are supplying energy to Europe and Russia has planned two new pipelines.

The rising power China is also getting into this Great Game:

The third “big player” in this New Great Game is China, soon to be the world’s biggest energy consumer, which is already importing gas from Turkmenistan via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to its Xinjiang province — known as the Central Asia-China Pipeline — which may tilt the balance towards Asia. Pepe Escobar calls it the opening of the 21st century Silk Road in 2009 when this pipeline became operational.  China’s need for energy is projected to increase by 150 per cent which explains why it has signed probably the largest number of deals not just with the Central Asian republics but also with the heavily sanctioned Iran and even Afghanistan. China has planned around five west-east gas pipelines, within China, of which one is operational (domestically from Xinjiang to Shanghai) and others are under construction and will be connected to Central Asian gas reserves.

China is also pushing for an alternative to TAPI: an Turkmenistan-Afghan-China pipeline.

Iran is also a player in its own right:

Another important country is Iran. Iran sits on the second largest gas reserves in the world and has over 93 billion barrels of proven oil reserves with a total of 4.17 million barrels per day in 2009. To the dislike of the United States, Iran is a very active player. The Turkmenistan-Iran gas pipeline, constructed in 1997, was the first new pipeline going out from Central Asia. Furthermore, Iran signed a $120 billion gas exploration deal, often termed the “deal of the century” with China. This gas deal signed in 2004 entails the annual export of approximately 10 million tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China for 25 years. It also gives China’s state oil company the right to participate in such projects as exploration and drilling for petrochemical and gas industries in Iran. Iran also plans to sell its gas to Europe through its Persian Gas pipeline which can become a rival to the US Nabucco pipeline. More importantly, it is also the key party in the proposed Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, also formerly known as the “peace pipeline.” Under this pipeline plan, first proposed in 1995, Iran will sell gas from its mega South Pars fields to Pakistan and India.

China’s support for Iran is largely explained by oil and gas:

Referring to China, Escobar states “most important of all, ‘isolated’ Iran happens to be a supreme matter of national security for China, which has already rejected the latest Washington sanctions without a blink” and that “China may be the true winner from Washington’s new sanctions, because it is likely to get its oil and gas at a lower price, as the Iranians grow ever more dependent on the China market.”

China has also shown interest in the construction of IP on the Pakistani side and further expanding it to China. This means that starting at Gwadar, Beijing plans to build another pipeline, crossing Balochistan and then following the Karakoram Highway northwards all the way to Xinjiang, China’s Far West. China is also most likely to get the construction contract for this pipeline. As stated above, Chinese firms are part of the consortium awarded the contract for the financial consultancy for the project. Closer participation in the Asian energy projects would also help China increase its influence in the region for its objective of creating the “string of pearls” across the region — which has often scared India as an encirclement strategy by the Chinese government.

Why Syria?

You might ask why there is so much focus on Syria right now.

Well, Syria is an integral part of the proposed 1,200km Arab Gas Pipeline:

1l image The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

Here are some additional graphics courtesy of Adam Curry:

arabGasPipeline The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

syria turkey The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

levantprovince2 The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... Theyre Also About GAS

So yes, regime change was planned against Syria (as well as Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan and Iran) 20 years ago.

And yes, attacking Syria weakens its close allies Iran and Russia … and indirectly China.

But Syria’s central role in the Arab gas pipeline is also a key to why it is now being targeted.

Just as the Taliban was scheduled for removal after they demanded too much in return for the Unocal pipeline, Syria’s Assad is being targeted because he is not a reliable “player”.

Specifically, Turkey, Israel and their ally the U.S. want an assured flow of gas through Syria, and don’t want a Syrian regime which is not unquestionably loyal to those 3 countries to stand in the way of the pipeline … or which demands too big a cut of the profits.

Pepe Escobar sums up what is driving current global geopolitics and war:

What you’re really talking about is what’s happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It’s there that the liquid war for the control of Eurasia takes place.

Yep, it all comes down to black gold and “blue gold” (natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond compare, and so it’s time to trek back to that ever-flowing wonderland – Pipelineistan.

Postscript: It’s not just the Neocons who have planned this strategy. Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser helped to map out the battle plan for Eurasian petroleum resources over a decade ago, and Obama is clearly continuing the same agenda.

Some would say that the wars are also be about forcing the world into dollars and private central banking, but that’s a separate story.

Four Stories This Week Prove that the War On Terror Is a Farce

Washington’s Blog strives to provide real-time, well-researched and actionable information.  George – the head writer at Washington’s Blog – is a busy professional and a former adjunct professor.

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Executive Summary: Two members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ‘dis America’s hyper-aggressive imperialism … Newly-leaked documents show that innocent people were thrown into Gitmo because they wore Casio watches or were Al Jazeera reporters … Al Qaeda assassin worked for MI6 … And – yes – the Iraq war was for oil.

Four stories from the last week confirm what many have been saying for years: the war on terror is a farce.

Military Brass Say Imperial Wars of Aggression are Hurting America

I’ve said for years that the war on terror is weakening America.

I’ve pointed out that experts say that the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

As I noted last year:

The very hawkish and pro-war Rand Corporation – released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida“.

The report confirms that the war on terror is actually weakening national security. As a press release about the study states:

“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”

Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”. And Newsweek has now admitted that the war on terror is wholly unnecessary.

***

As American reporter Gareth Porter writes in Asia Times:

Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions. Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.

Feith’s book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing “new regimes” in a series of states…

***

General Wesley Clark, who commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the Kosovo war, recalls in his 2003 book Winning Modern Wars being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya [yes, Libya], Sudan and Somalia [and Lebanon].

***

When this writer asked Feith . . . which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, “All of them.”

***

The Defense Department guidance document made it clear that US military aims in regard to those states would go well beyond any ties to terrorism. The document said the Defense Department would also seek to isolate and weaken those states and to “disrupt, damage or destroy” their military capacities – not necessarily limited to weapons of mass destruction (WMD)…

Rumsfeld’s paper was given to the White House only two weeks after Bush had approved a US military operation in Afghanistan directed against bin Laden and the Taliban regime. Despite that decision, Rumsfeld’s proposal called explicitly for postponing indefinitely US airstrikes and the use of ground forces in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in order to try to catch bin Laden.

Instead, the Rumsfeld paper argued that the US should target states that had supported anti-Israel forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

***

A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.

And our top military and intelligence leaders – as well as Nobel prize winning economists – say that war is destroying our economy. The amount we’re spending is insane. For example, I’ve previously noted that the rational for a large-scale war in Afghanistan doesn’t make sense:

The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes:

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.

With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year…

This week, two senior members of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff – Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy and Colonel Mark Mykleby of the Marine Corps – agreed that America is on the wrong track. As Fareed Zakaria summarized their report yesterday:

That the United States has embraced an entirely wrong set of priorities, particularly with regard to its federal budget. We have overreacted to Islamic extremism. We have pursued military solutions instead of political ones.

***

We are underinvesting in the real sources of national power – our youth, our infrastructure and our economy. The United States sees the world through the lens of threats, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world… Above all we must invest in our children. Only by educating them properly will we ensure our ability to compete in the future.

***

It’s likely that the essay had some official sanction, which means that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or perhaps even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had seen it and did not stop its publication.

***
Washington needs to make sure that the United States does not fall into the imperial trap of every other superpower in history, spending greater and greater time and money and energy stabilizing disorderly parts of the world on the periphery, while at the core its own industrial and economic might is waning.

We have to recognize that fixing America’s fiscal problems – paring back the budget busters like entitlements and also defense spending – making the economy competitive, dealing with immigration and outlining a serious plan for energy use are the best strategies to stay a superpower, not going around killing a few tribal leaders in the remote valleys and hills of Afghanistan.

Iraq: A War for … Oil?

As I’ve repeatedly noted, Alan Greenspan, John McCain, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, a high-level National Security Council officer and others all say that the Iraq war was really about oil.

Former CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its justifications for invading Iraq. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11. (The government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 as well. See this and this).

The Independent confirmed last week:

Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

***
The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

***

Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

The minister then promised to “report back to the companies before Christmas” on her lobbying efforts.

The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq “post regime change”. Its minutes state: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.”

After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: “Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future… We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq.”

Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had “no strategic interest” in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was “more important than anything we’ve seen for a long time”.

BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf’s existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world’s leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take “big risks” to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.

Over 1,000 documents were obtained under Freedom of Information over five years by the oil campaigner Greg Muttitt. They reveal that at least five meetings were held between civil servants, ministers and BP and Shell in late 2002.

The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq’s reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil …

The Independent also notes that one of the main movers and shakers for the Iraq oil shenanigans has been mucky around in Libya as well:

Lady Symons, 59, later took up an advisory post with a UK merchant bank that cashed in on post-war Iraq reconstruction contracts. Last month she severed links as an unpaid adviser to Libya’s National Economic Development Board after Colonel Gaddafi started firing on protesters …

Imprisoning Innocents at Gitmo

As I noted in 2009:

One of the main excuses used to justify torture is that the people being tortured were bloodthirsty terrorists, who would do far worse to us if we didn’t stop them.

Is that true?

Judge for yourself:

  • The number two man at the State Department under Colin Powell, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, says that many of those being held at Guantanamo Bay were innocent, and that top Bush administration officials knew that they were innocent. Moreover, he said:

    “This philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance (this general philosophy, in an even cruder form, prevailed in Iraq as well, helping to produce the nightmare at Abu Ghraib). All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals–in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.Thus, as many people as possible had to be kept in detention for as long as possible to allow this philosophy of intelligence gathering to work. The detainees’ innocence was inconsequential. After all, they were ignorant peasants for the most part and mostly Muslim to boot.”

    (see this and this). Indeed, Wilkerson signed a declaration under penalty of perjury stating that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld covered up the fact that hundreds of innocent men were sent to Guantanamo because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

This has been confirmed by the recent release of U.S. military files. As the Guardian reported yesterday:

The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how … many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment.

The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

Anyone who was affiliated with Pakistan’s national intelligence service, or that had been held as a prisoner in a Taliban jail, or that wore a certain type of watch, was considered a terrorist:

US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence.

Interrogators were told to regard links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity.

***

A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton … was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques.

***

Another 17-page file, titled “GTMO matrix of threat indicators for enemy combatants”, advises interrogators to look out for signs of terrorist activity ranging from links to a number of mosques around the world, including two in London, to ownership of a particular model of Casio watch.

“The Casio was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bombmaking training courses in Afghanistan,” it states.

Others were held because they led religious services or drove cabs in certain geographic regions, or because they were Al Jazeera reporters:

One man was transferred to the facility “because he was a mullah, who led prayers at Manu mosque in Kandahar province, Afghanistan … which placed him in a position to have special knowledge of the Taliban”.

***

Another prisoner was shipped to the base “because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver”.

The files also reveal that an al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years, partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network.

His dossier states that one of the reasons was “to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL”.

Al Qaeda Assassin and … Green Beret?

The Guardian points out today that U.S. military reports indicate that an Al Qaeda assassin worked for the Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency.

You decide whether this connotes hanky panky or incompetence by Western intelligence services.

As I’ve previously noted, a former Pakistani president alleged that another prominent Al Qaeda terrorist also worked for MI6.

I’ve also noted:

  • One of al-Qaeda’s top trainers in terrorism and how to hijack airplanes, who was a very close associate of Bin Laden, was an American citizen who was an operative for the FBI, the CIA, and the Army, and a green beret (see this article from the San Francisco Chronicle and this article from the Globe and Mail). Indeed, while he was acting as an FBI informant, he smuggled Bin Laden in and out of Afghanistan, helped plan the attacks on US embassies in Africa, and apparently played a pivotal role in planning 9/11.

According to a 1995 Boston Globe report, his entry into the country was made possible by “clandestine CIA sponsorship.” According to West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center, the terrorist was:

Given a visa waiver under a “little known visa waiver program that allows the CIA and other security agencies to bring valuable agents into the country, bypassing the usual immigration formalities.” While perhaps “little known,” this authority was granted to the Director of National Intelligence by the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 and codified in 50 U.S.C. §403h, which states that if “the admission of a particular alien into the United States for permanent residence is in the interest of national security or essential to the furtherance of the national intelligence mission, such alien and his immediate family shall be admitted to the United States for permanent residence without regard to their inadmissibility under the immigration or any other laws and regulations….”

Even assuming that such shenanigans are due to sheer incompetence only reaffirms that the war on terror has been one of the biggest farces in history.