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22 February 2005

McCain's surprise? Yeah right...

Sen. John McCain, currently part of a U.S. congressional delegation to Afghanistan, has just called for the U.S. to set up permanent military bases in that country.

McCain Calls for Permanent Afghan Bases http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8137.htm

Although at present we only have some 17,000 troops there, and mostly in the passive west of the country. The 20,000 man "Afghan Army" and NATO forces are covering all the dangerous areas - Kabul, the Pakistani border, the north, &c. So with Afghan collaborators and NATO doing all the dirty work, what need does the U.S. have for permanent bases in the country - especially in the relatively pacified west of the country where our troops are based?

Hmmm...

The Oil Connection: Afghanistan and Caspian Sea oil pipeline routes
http://www.newhumanist.com/oil.html

Excerpts:

Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan, which was under serious consideration inthe mid-1990s. The idea has since been undermined by Afghanistan's instability.

The Soviets had estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable natural gas reserves at up to 5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in the 1970s. Afghan natural gas production reached 275 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) in the mid-1970s. ... Soviet estimates from the late 1970s placed Afghanistan's proven and probable oil and condensate reserves at 95 million barrels. Oil exploration and development work as well as plans to build a 10,000-bbl/d refinery were halted after the 1979 Soviet invasion. ... Besides oil and natural gas, Afghanistan also is estimated to have 73 million tons of coal reserves, most of which is located in the region between Herat and Badashkan in the northern part of the country. Although Afghanistan produced over 100,000 short tons of coal annually as late as the early 1990s, as of 1999, the country was producing only around 1,000 short tons.

In January 1998, the Taliban signed an agreement that would allow a proposed 890-mile, $2-billion, 1.9-billion-cubic-feet-per-day natural gas pipeline project led by Unocal to proceed. The proposed pipeline would have transported natural gas from Turkmenistan's 45-Tcf Dauletabad natural gas field to Pakistan, and most likely would have run from Dauletabad south to the Afghan border and through Herat and Qandahar in Afghanistan, to Quetta, Pakistan. The line would then have linked with Pakistan's natural gas grid at Sui. Natural gas shipments had been projected to start at 700 Mmcf/d in 1999 and to rise to 1.4 Bcf/d or higher by 2002. In March 1998, however, Unocal announced a delay in finalizing project details due to Afghanistan's continuing civil war. In June 1998, Gazprom announced that it was relinquishing its 10% stake in the gas pipeline project consortium (known as the Central Asian Gas Pipeline Ltd., or Centgas), which was formed in August 1996. As of June 1998, Unocal and Saudi Arabia's Delta Oil held a combined 85% stake in Centgas, while Turkmenrusgas owned 5%. Other participants in the proposed project besides Delta Oil include the Crescent Group of Pakistan, Gazprom of Russia, Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company of South Korea, Inpex and Itochu of Japan ...

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