Is an Oil Pipeline Behind the War in Afghanistan?

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Testimony
before the US Congress is circulating on the internet. It pertains
to a proposed oil pipeline through Central Asia that is applicable
to the current war in Afghanistan.

On
February 12, 1998, John J. Maresca, vice president, international
relations for UNOCAL oil company, testified before the US House
of Representatives, Committee on International Relations. Maresca
provided information to Congress on Central Asia oil and gas reserves
and how they might shape US foreign policy. UNOCAL’s problem? As
Maresca said: “How to get the region’s vast energy resources to
the markets.” The oil reserves are in areas north of Afghanistan,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Routes for a pipeline
were proposed that would transport oil on a 42-inch pipe southward
thru Afghanistan for 1040 miles to the Pakistan coast. Such a pipeline
would cost about $2.5 billion and carry about 1 million barrels
of oil per day.

Maresca
told Congress then that: “It’s not going to be built until there
is a single Afghan government. That’s the simple answer.”

Dana
Rohrbacher, California congressman, then identified the Taliban
as the ruling controllers among various factions in Afghanistan
and characterized them as “opium producers.”

Then
Rohrbacher asked Maresca: “There is a Saudi terrorist who is infamous
for financing terrorism around the world. Is he in the Taliban area
or is he up there with the northern people?”

Maresca
answered: “If it is the person I am thinking of, he is there in
the Taliban area.” This testimony obviously alluded to Osama bin
Laden.

Then
Rorhbacher asked: “… in the northern area as compared to the place
where the Taliban are in control, would you say that one has a better
human rights record toward women than the other?”

Maresca
responded by saying: “With respect to women, yes. But I don’t think
either faction here has a very clean human rights record, to tell
you the truth.”

So
women’s rights were introduced into Congressional testimony by Congressman
Rohrbacher as the wedge for UNOCAL to build its pipeline through
Afghanistan. Three years later CNN would be airing its acclaimed
TV documentary “Under The Veil,” which displayed the oppressive
conditions that women endure in Afghanistan under the rule of the
Taliban (a propaganda film for the oil pipeline?).

Rohrbacher
then went on to say that a democratic election should take place
in Afghanistan and “if the Taliban are not willing to make that
kind of commitment, I would be very hesitant to move foreward on
a $2.5 billion investment because without that commitment, I don’t
think there is going to be any tranquility in that land.”

Beginning
in 1998 UNOCAL was chastized, particularly by women’s rights groups,
for discussions with the Taliban, and headed in retreat as a worldwide
effort mounted to come to the defense of the Afghani women. This
forced UNOCAL to withdraw from its talks with the Taliban and dissolve
its multinational partnership in that region. In 1999 Alexander’s
Gas & Oil Connections newsletter said: “UNOCAL company officials
said late last year (1998) they were abandoning the project because
of the need to cut costs in the Caspian region and because of the
repeated failure of efforts to resolve the long civil conflict in
Afghanistan.” [Volume 4, issue #20 - Monday, November 22, 1999]

Three
days following the attack on the World Trade Centers in New York
City, UNOCAL issued a statement reconfirming it had withdrawn from
its project in Afghanistan, long before recent events. [www.unocal.com
September 14, 2001 statement]

UNOCAL
was not the only party positioning themselves to tap into oil and
gas reserves in central Asia. UNOCAL was primary member of a multinational
consortium called CentGas (Central Asia Gas) along with Delta Oil
Company Limited (Saudi Arabia), the Government of Turkmenistan,
Indonesia Petroleum, LTD. (INPEX) (Japan), ITOCHU Oil Exploration
Co., Ltd. (Japan), Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd.
(Korea), the Crescent Group (Pakistan) and RAO Gazprom (Russia).

Just
because CentGas had dissolved does not mean that the involved parties
have totally abandoned their interest in building an oil pipeline
out of Central Asia. There is also talk of another pipeline thru
Iran. India and Pakistan are bidding to be the pipeline terminal
ocean port since they would obtain hundreds of millions of dollars
in fees.

So,
in 1998 Osama bin Laden was identified as the villain behind the
Taliban, Afghanistani women the victims of an oppressive Taliban
regime, and the stage was set for a future stabilization effort
(i.e. a war). Was all this a cover story for a future oil pipeline?

In
November 2000, Bruce Hoffman, director of the Rand Institute office
in Washington DC, indicated that the next US President would have
to face up to the growing threat is Islamic terrorism. Hoffman:
“The next administration must turn its immediate attention to knitting
together the full range of US counterterrorist capabilities into
a cohesive plan.” [Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2000]

All
that was needed was a triggering event.

October
15, 2001

Bill
Sardi [send him mail] is a health
journalist at www.askbillsardi.com.

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