Friday, September 8, 2006


"Afghanistan is especially important to Washington because it is the only plausible way to bring natural gas down from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. The Turkmenistan alternative is being used to push Delhi away from any flirtation with an Iranian pipeline.

As Afghanistan falls again into substantial chaos, India is being forced to reconsider, and to seek to draw on Iran's Yadavan fields, with a pipeline coming down through Pakistani Baluchistan and over to the Indian border.

The turn for the worst in Afghanistan may explain the sudden warming of relations between Delhi and Tehran. Indian PM Manmohan Singh called up Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and stressed the need to fast track the pipeline project, which had seemed dead earlier this summer. (Last spring the pro-Iranian minister of petroleum had been fired, and some assumed it had been in part as a result of American pressure).

By deserting Afghanistan to run off to war in Iraq, Bush ensured that it would risk falling again into social turbulence, and thus helped seal the fate of the Turkmenistan pipeline through Herat (wouldn't the Taliban just blow it up?)

In turn, that may have ensured that Iran would be able to sidestep US sanctions by dealing, not only with China, but also with India.

And that may mean that Bush let the big fish get away by getting bogged down in Iraq, which is turning out not to be any prize for him, either."

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