Why did the US really invade Afghanistan?
Pipes, drugs, and military sphere of influence
by Ryan Dawson
Why did the US really invade Afghanistan?
pipes drugs and military sphere of influence
by Ryan Dawson
In the 1980s, the US had an alliance with both the Taliban and Usama bin Laden. The US actively supported the Mujaheddin, of which Bin Laden and his foreign fighters were a sub group of, in a war against the Soviets. The Afghans were purchasing American weapons with Saudi oil money and receiving training from the CIA and ISI. Tim Osman as the CIA called Bin Laden, had full support of the US and met with the likes of Zbigniew Brzezinski.
As Carter’s national security adviser, Brzezinski told the President that “we have the opportunity of giving the U.S.S.R. its Vietnam war.”
Zibigniew Brzezinski with Pakistan special forces in Afghanistan.
(Brzezinski became a top foreign policy adviser for President Obama)
The war with the Soviets tore Afghanistan apart, conservatively killing 1.5 million Afghans and pushing one third of the population into refugee camps. Tens of thousands of Soviet troops were also killed. In many ways Afghanistan was the USSR’s Vietnam, but in the same token, the USSR was also Afghanistan’s America. In the aftermath of the Soviet withdraw (1989) there was a Civil War.
The USSR continued their fight in a proxy war by supplying the communists of Mohammad Najibullah. With the collapse of the USSR came the collapse of their support. Mohammad Najibullah was defeated in 1992 Yet no clear faction became the new replacement. Under the Peshawar Accords, several factions created a United Front. One outlier was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar a Mujaheddin leader who had gotten heavy support from the CIA and ISI during the war with the Soviets. His faction would be fighting with Ahmad Shah Massoud’s group as well as the newly formed Taliban of Mullah Mohammed Omar. Pakistan supported the Taliban as did Usama bin Laden and by 1996 they had taken the capital and controlled 70% of the country mostly the South.
Usama’s group which would later (post 911) be called “Al Qaeda” was just a term for the base of the foreign fighters within the Mujaheddin who were later the same thing with in the Taliban. The CIA’s group simply sided with whoever was winning. And Usama bin Laden’s network would be used in the coming years as privateers to fight in a number of conflicts including Chechnya, once again against the Russians. (Rebellion in Chechnya prevented Russia from building a pipeline connecting to Baku through Grozny.)
In spite of their human right violations and barbaric treatment of women, the US willing fostered the Taliban. The CIA had a repeat of its dealing with the Mujaheddin with the Taliban, some of whom were one in the same. In fact as late as May 17, 2001 Colin Powell then the Secretary of State, announced that a 43 million dollar aid package to the Taliban coupled with other recent aid made the US the main sponsor of the Taliban. The aid was packaged as relief against famine. (The US rarely is so generous with food humanitarian or not, often ignoring others who would need it, without an agenda. It’s been a tactic to purposely starve others for political ends as the US was doing to Iraq simultaneously when this aid reached the Taliban.) Apparently that final gesture of good will/bribe didn’t work because two months later in July of the same year the US was already drawling up war plans. The Taliban was falling apart. The US would need a pretext however. They got one two months later with September 11th and the following month, the US invaded Afghanistan with an occupation that has lasted a decade already surpassing Vietnam as America’s longest war. It is currently (as of 2011) still ongoing.
So what really happened? Why are there 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, plus the added NATO troops and mercenaries? We know it is not to destroy al-Qaeda. (the base) When did the “freedom fighters” of Ronald Reagan become the “terrorists” of GW and Obama?
Did the US want to cooperate with Central Asia in order to get more oil or did the US want to control oil pipelines in order to hold leverage over and control Central Asia? Well there is a bit of both: with private companies having their own profit motives and government/MIC having its own geopolitical motives. They often overlap just as the composition of government and private enterprise also overlap. But they are not one in the same and oil is not the only prime resource in contention. Gas pipelines and the illegal drug trade are as vital of a market as oil pipelines and in some areas the drug trade surpasses everything.
Of the two, controlling Central Asia and not allowing Russia to control Central Asia, is the more dominate factor in this plan for a New American Century. (this has been literally spelled out). And it would require US intervention.
To understand the real motivations for invading Afghanistan a lot of background is needed. You’ll need to understand the pipeline history on both sides of the Caspian Sea, in particular in Azerbaijan and also Turkmenistan.
First of all, one needs to understand the importance of pipelines and also of ports. When a nation is landlocked the only feasible means of transporting oil and gas is by pipeline, but it can only go wherever the pipeline goes. The product can’t reach the world market until it reaches a port. That is why ports are so vital. Wars have been fought over ports. (Russia and Japan fought over Port Arthur in what is now South Korea in 1904-5) Once it is sea bound it can be brought to world market. Every nation that a pipeline passes through benefits as they can charge transit fees. They all have the means to slow down or cut off the supply completely as well so they need to be friendly nations. Stability in pipeline regions is also crucial as no investor wants to back a project ranging in the billions which can simply be blown apart by violence. And for the US the Caspian Sea’s energy is also a non-OPEC source of oil and an area until recently that was monopolized by the Russians. The US of course can not have a direct access so it would prefer the gas and oil to reach ports and hit the open market. Iran, China, and Russia have land access to Caspian energy via pipelines. The US is in a chess match with these powers of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe over the Caspian resources.
Iran built a small lite gas pipeline the Korpezhe-Kurt Kui gas pipeline, coincidentally dubbed the KKK [zero relation to the American group.]KKK runs to Turkmenistan fields. It has been open since 1997. It’s capacities were rather low being a small line, but Iran was early in the game.
Iran opened a second larger gas pipeline in 2010 also to Turkmenistan. The original line was too small to increase capacities. This second line to Iran, with a line to China completed just months before it, broke the Russian monopoly and their ability to dictate prices.
Europe And Eurasian Gas Reserves
this chart is excluding Russia (43.3tcm); [nearly 6 times that of Turkmenistan] Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2009
China was late in the game, but may have potentially the most stable positions. In 2005 China threw its hat into the mix scoring an oil pipeline through Kazakhstan directly to China, the KCP. China opened a gas pipeline to Turkmenistan in December of 2009. An advanatge here is the line is a one to one negotiation in a relatively stable area and it doesn’t pass through a third party who can charge transit fees or cause additional problems. China did however greatly overpay for the oil line. In the future it may prove a wise decision as China’s growing energy needs are written on the wall.
Russia is still the big boss man. As of 2007 Russia provided 90% of Western Europe’s gas and the majority of its oil. If Russia were able to control the Caspian energy resources, then combined with its own oil and gas, Russia would be able to become a petroleum power to rival the Middle East. Russia holds the largest shares in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) which runs from Kazakhstan to the Russian port of Novorossiysk. That has been open since 2001. And Russia has a number of lines from Azerbaijan and oil and gas lines in former Soviet states. The Russian hold is starting to crack. Soviet satellites Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were once controlled by Moscow. The road and rail roads travel north into Russia. However recently both have allowed natural resources to flow to China and Turkmenistan desired to cooperate with the US for a planned gas pipeline to go through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the open sea. The TAP line has had set back after set back. Another proposal is for a TCP gas line that cuts under the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan across to Azerbaijan and hooks into the existing lines such as the BTC.
CPC TCP Current TAP now TAPI
Because of politicking, logistics, and investment, pipelines can easily take a decade or more to construct as was the case of the BTC line running from the Caspian via the capital Azerbaijan Baku to the capital of Georgia Tbilisi on out to Ceyhan a port in Turkey. The BTC lines are parallel pipes one with oil and one with gas.
It slides neatly between Russia and Iran avoiding both.
We all saw what happened when Iran, Iraq, and Syria proposed a pipeline that would rival BTC
In Azerbaijan there are presently the Baku-Tbilis-Ceyhan, Baku-Supsa, and Baku-Novorossisk oil pipelines, all of which start in Baku from the ACG fields (Azeri–Chirag–Guneshli fields in the Caspian Sea). Prior to the BTC line Russia had a monopoly on the region. Heydar Aliyev, former KGB and mob affiliate who had been the leader of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982 was back in power in 1993 becoming the president. And the issue of contention there for his election, which assisted his return, was resolving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict with Armenia. The man largely responsible for the early Russian success was the Russian Oligarch Alekperov of LUKoil (Langepas, Urai and Kogalym) who was born in Baku. Unlike many of the other oligarchs who openly engaged in criminal activity, Vagit Alekperov did some actual work. Aliyev was friendly with Vagit Alekperov who was then deputy minister of Soviet oil and started Langepas-Uray-Kogalymneft which out maneuvered the Western oil giants and took control of lines pulling from Azerbaijan’s ACG field. The field itself has a consortium of investors with BP currently holding the largest stake. LUKoil was facing in-fighting at home. […]
The BTC line was agreed upon between Turkey and Azerbaijan in 1993. It almost went through Armenia, rather than Georgia, since that would have been the more direct route, but the dispute in Nagorno Karabakh an area in Azerbaijan with a majority Armenian population, made the decision to go through Georgia easy.
Obviously Russia didn’t want the BTC line to break their monopoly, and the timely incident that forced the line through Georgia, and then to Turkey a NATO member, wasn’t favorable either. When negotiations failed, Russia tried to end or slow down the process of the BTC indirectly through NGOs. They used a number of excuses from environmental groups to human rights as a means of deterring the project. But the BTC line was finally completed in the Summer of 2006. LUKoil shocked everyone when they later sold their shares of ACG field to the Japanese, but that’s another can of worms (I think it was to grab the quick cash buy up Slavneft and get rid of a head-ache and still rob the Western powers by locking it in with Japan who will never ever ever let go of oil and are about as flexible as a cast-iron ball. At the time Putin was kicking Oligarchs out of the country and throwing oil oligarchs in jail, the chance to gobble assets within mother Russia was too sweat to pass up, but fast capital would be needed.)
The largest importers of oil from the BTC line are Italy and Israel. Israel is also pushed to make itself the last middle man in the chain to deliver BTC oil to East Asia by tanker from Eilat. This is important to recognize. This oil isn’t going to the US or Britain. The US purchases a small portion of it but primarily other states are buying the oil. After BP, Azerbaijan has the largest stake in the consortium with American companies grabbing just 10% with seven other companies. The importance of the line isn’t just profits for the 9 companies splitting the cake, and certainly isn’t about feeding America’s oil needs. The larger factor in the project is busting the Russian monopoly and how the line itself holds leverage over three nations it passes through. In May 2006 a gas pipeline opened also from Baku that runs alongside the BTC line in the BTE line which completes its journey in Erzerum Turkey.
Pipelines are a political weapon. In 2009 facing off against the Ukraine’s president Viktor Yushchenko Russia simply shut down gas going through the Ukraine. Yushchenko’s government owed 2.4 billion in debts over gas and so Gazprom closed the lines for 13 days. Western favored Yushchenko had come to power in the Orange Revolution defeating Viktor Yanukovych after a re-vote in 2004. The Ukrainian election became some what of a bad drama with an accusation by Yushchenko of dioxin poisoning. Yushchenko claimed to have been poisoned, apparently the poisoner decided to gamble with a highly ineffective choice of dioxin rather than any number of poisons which could have certainly killed him. His opposition claimed Yushchenko faked his blood test results by adding dioxin to his blood samples. As a consequence of shutting down the gas lines for 13 days both nations took economic hits. Russia lost an estimated 1.5 billion dollars in revenue something the large nation can absorb, where as the Ukraine took a devastating blow to their economy. The following year, 2010, the election was a rematch, and this time Yushchenko lost to Yanukovych. And the Orange Revolution faded to black. For more on the Yushchenko drama see these.
It’s easy to see the importance of pipelines to the Caspian particularly from Azerbaijan. It took a full 11 years to get the BTC operational. Azerbaijan has benefited greatly from its diversified distribution of oil and gas. The money doesn’t trickle down very well though. Much of the nation’s roads remain unpaved even in the capital and there is a massive “informal” economy largely derived from heroine coming out of Afghanistan.
According to a study entitled, “Shadow Economies and Corruption All Over the World: New Estimates for
145 Countries,” by Fredrich Schneider of Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, the informal
economy in 2004/05 was equal to 59.4% of GDP. (p.19)
The largest shadow economies were in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The drug route takes the same route as the oil route. Going from Azerbaijan to Turkey where it is then splashed onto European black markets. Afghanistan is the heart of the Golden Crescent the hub of opium trade. Holding leverage over illegal drugs is considerable leverage over these vital pipeline barring countries. Energy Drugs and Weapons are among the largest most lucrative markets in the world.
Afghanistan is not only positioned as the final slot for the TAP pipeline the equivalent of a Eastward BTC line to feed oil hungry Asia, it is also undoubtedly the world’s capital for opium production. Unlike oil lines, drugs will flow violence or no violence. In fact they loop back on one another as the revenue form drugs sales abets black-market weapon sales. For a large scale professional example of this just take a look at Iran Contra Affair where factions in the CIA and NSA were engaged in this very thing: the drugs, weapons, violence gambit. Drug money is off the books cash which allows plausible denial for governments for their intelligence agencies criminal behavior. The opium wars never ended.
A number of factors went into planing the line to go from the Caspian port in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. As early as 1995 Turkmenistan and Pakistan were on board to work with an Argentinian company Bridas Corporation but Afghanistan was still in a civil war. No investors are going to place their money in region not only prone to but in the middle of tribal warfare. An American company with deep ties to Bush administration officials Unocal made consortium (CentGas) for the TAP pipeline. During this time Pakistan and the US threw their support behind the Taliban.
Unocal’s investors desired a unified leadership in Afghanistan. By 1996 the Taliban with full support of the CIA, bin Laden and Pakistan took the Capital. The public face in the US was to dismiss the Taliban for its treatment of women and numerous barbaric practices, but private face was creating a warm relationship. In 1997 Taliban leaders were invited to Texas to discuss the TAP line. For the Taliban’s part, they wanted UN recognition so far only the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan had recognized them, the gas pipeline was their leverage. Months later in January of 1998 the Taliban agreed on a deal with the Unocal consortium over Bridas. Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia became the two main partners to set up the line. The agreement for CentGas was made the same day that Halliburton agreed to provide technical services and drilling for Turkmenistan. (Unocal would later subcontract to Halliburton KBR and then merge with Chevron-texaco.) Interestingly, another financier with Delta Oil and Unocal was Amerada Hess from the US, whose director was Thomas Kean, who was later appointed as Chair of the 9/11 Commission, and was very fond the comic version of the 911 commission report.
The turn around of the US’s privateers in 1990-1 came from a couple obvious huge events. 1 the collapse of the USSR 2 US invasion of Iraq where upon the US built bases in Saudi Arabia which really angered UBL. MEK became the new medium of finance to “al Qaeda” after BCCI fell out. It was BCCI that was used in Iran Contra as well. Notice how MEK was ignored with the second invasion of Iraq. Things were looking good for the TAP line in early 1998 and then UBL threw a monkey wrench.
On August 7, 1998 terrorists bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. August 7th was the 8th anniversary of the US putting bases in Saudi Arabia in what is considered holy land by religious people. This same complaint was allegedly echoed by Osama bin Laden after the 911 attacks. The US quietly complied as well, removing the bases. For Osama bin Laden, a religious fanatic, this was a deeply troubling issue that wasn’t resolved until after 911. However with the mountains of dirt from the Soviet war with Afghanistan as well as the delicate negotiations for the TAP project with the Taliban, Osama bet correctly that he could get away with the embassy bombings. The Sudan had offered to turn over bin Laden to Clinton who refused them. The US at best looked the other way being either intentionally lackadaisical or inconceivably incompetent after the USS Cole bombing, participants of which would come back to haunt them later. Even as late as 2001 Osama may have been treated in an American hospital in Dubai on July 4th no less. And according to a CBS report Osama was again getting treatment in Pakistan on September 10th the day before 9/11.
Theories about Osama bin Laden’s status with the CIA and COG vary greatly. The official conspiracy theory of 911 being planned and directed by Osam bin Laden is an extremely hot topic in the US for a public that has seemingly been lied to about everything else from the Iraq War to Banking fraud. What is known that as a response to the embassy bombings or possibly personal legal troubles Bill Clinton launched a cruise missile attack that hit targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. Oddly the target in Sudan turned out to be a pharmaceutical plant which may have been an honest mistake, but even more strange were the targets in Afghanistan. Clinton didn’t attack Kandahar where Osama was based, he attacked Jalalabad and Khost. There was no real threat to bin Laden. However on August 22, 1998: Unocal announced that CentGas had not secured the financing necessary to begin the work, and the same day Unocal suspended construction plans due to the continuing civil war in Afghanistan. Whether or not the timing had anything to do with Clinton’s strikes is unknown. It is doubtful that in two days they suddenly were unable to secure enough investments. Back in June before attacks in Africa, objections to Afghan pipeline deal by some shareholders at Unocal’s annual meeting. (p 174) had already been made. These road bumps had been occurring all year. Unocal stressed that the pipeline project would not proceed until an internationally recognized government was in place in Afghanistan. Although the Taliban had control, the way they viciously obtained and maintained that control, made it an international nightmare to recognize them as the legitimate government. So even with Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban in Afghanistan all lined up, the project is crushed again this time on the investors’ end.
The US had not given up. In 1999 Russia got its second line out of Azerbaijan completed, and at this time the US still hadn’t completed the project for the BTC line to bring oil to open markets on the West side of the Caspain Sea and wouldn’t see any oil from there for another 7 years. The battle for the Eastern side for the TAP line was just as furious.
The Bush administration renewed working with the Taliban on the TAP deals, not only was there pressure from TAP but more deals for gas lines from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were also in place IF the Afghanistan situation could be solved. The US fully supported Islam Karimov the “president” of Uzbekistan with Draconian levels of violence, rape, torture, murder, kidnapping, boiling prisoners alive, censoring the press etc. But he was friendly to Enron and Unocal. Bush sent the dictator more than a billion dollars.
Later in July 2000 the Taliban did something that hurt black markets across the globe. Mullah Omar banned opium for a year. It worked too, with the narcotics use falling to negligible levels. This was a decision that certainly did not sit well with other Central Asian nations, as mentioned before Azerbaijan and Georgia or Turkey. May of 2001 seemed to be the final line drawn in the sand in dealing with the Taliban as that was their last known meeting with US officials and were still receiving tens of millions of dollars in aid up to that point. A stable government needed to be created in Afghanistan, that or permanent occupation. Preferably one that would re-open the opium trade, which the US did end up doing.
poppy cultivation in Afghanistan
But a pretext would be needed before the American public would ever accept going to war with a country many had never heard of. It wouldn’t help Bush’s claims of chasing Al Qaeda either after installing the Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai who had been a paid consultant of Unocal. It also looks bad that he appointed Zalamy Khalilzad as a special envoy to Afghanistan, a man who was also an employee of Unocal and who had written several pro-pipeline op eds in 90s for US news papers. And it also didn’t look good when two US paid puppets Pakistani President Musharraf and Karzai announce their agreement to cooperate on the gas pipeline connecting to Pakistan running through Afghanistan just months after the US invasion, Feb 8, 2002. And this looked simply terrible. They did not find any of the famous caves complexes we all saw cartoon pictures of and did not implement or even push for women’s rights as had been promoted in televised propaganda before the war. But the pipeline deals were back on the table. One thing the US did underestimate was the resistance of the Taliban. Also interesting is how the British were conveniently in place to attack Afghanistan having deployed huge task-force for “fictional” conflict on Sep 3.
Oddly after 911, the US bases were removed from Saudi Arabia as Osama bin laden has wanted, and the US invaded Iraq as Israel had wanted. Although gas lines are still in negotiations as of December 2010 an agreement was made for lines to go from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, the future doesn’t look bright. MIC contracts trump gas lines. We’re talking pipelines with tens of billions vs defense spending in the hundreds of billions sometimes reaching a trillion. The drug trade is back open and the low level conflict justifies a large US presence in Afghanistan which borders Iran. On the other side of Iran the US has also built permanent bases in Iraq. Iran is unapologetically an Israeli target. And when push comes to shove between Israel and anyone else, Unacol, Enron, even the American people, Israel is the winner. Pipelines may have been a pipe dream but on a list of motivations, they ranked third in invading Afghanistan.
Fighting Al Qaeda has become the replacement for the Cold War. A war on terror is endless as it is a war on a tactic much like the over milked cow of fighting an economic ideology: communism (while simultaneously supporting dictatorships and fascism). Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan, although none of the alleged hijackers were from there, a nation was collectively condemned over the actions of associates of a man who originally worked for the US. How much of 911 is true and false is a different can of worms. But with the drug/energy/global positioning all in Afghanistan the US had billions of reasons to desire an invasion. It’s a little too convenient that bin Laden, who was supposed to already be wanted for previous crimes, would give the US it’s pretext. Why there was a war rather than a mark of reprisal to go after bin Laden is simple, war involves far more industries and in the modern era war is its own resource. There is no larger umbrella corporation than the Military Industrial Complex and nothing more historically dishonest either.
Look for more war Propaganda against Iran coming from the US and Israel in the near future.