Iran could be best route for Central Asian oil and gas pipeline

Oct 16, 2001 02:00 AM

The reasons, logic and rationale are numerous on why Pakistan and the United States brought about the coming to power in Afghanistan of the Taliban in 1996. For instance, the former Pakistani Prime Minister, Ms. Binazir Butto, during whose tenure in office, the Taliban Militia emerged from obscurity in Afghanistan, claims that Pakistan wanted to gain access to the cotton resources of Central Asia by creating the Taliban. There is little doubt that the above rationale is a part of the real truth but not the whole reason.
Political analysts and experts are of the view that both Pakistan and the US had other motives. The rich energy resources of Central Asia such as oil and gas may have been a determining factor in the emergence of the Taliban.

The Americans assumed that by power being concentrated in a strong and stable central government in Afghanistan, the energy (oil and gas) reserves of the Central Asian republics could end up in Pakistan via pipelines passing through Afghanistan, thereby opening Pakistani ports to the free market and enhancing the geopolitical and economic importance of Pakistan.
Major American oil companies and energy giants had urged and pressed the US government to bring some stability to Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The Taliban quickly showed their true face of evil and they turned out to be a real menace. But despite all this, many central Asian leaders, particularly Turkmenistan continued to ignore the excesses and cruelty of the Taliban in northern Afghanistan and the awful treatment that religious and ethnic minorities (of central Asian descent) received at the hands of the Taliban.

Turkmenistan erroneously and incorrectly believed that its energy resources could be transferred via Pakistan and Afghanistan without taking into account regional realities and acts on the ground. What possible guarantee and assurance is there that if Afghanistan presumably becomes politically stable, Pakistan who is ripe with ethnic, religious and political strife to remain stable.
Moreover, various other factors in Afghanistan make the realization of such an ambitious energy transfer pipeline more than doubtful. Factors and elements such as widespread destruction in Afghanistan due to many decades of war, damaged transportation system (for example: no decent roads), lack of technology and know how in that country, ethnic and tribal differences and rivalries which prevents the establishment of a permanent, secure and strong central government in Kabul.
Hence, it is clear that such a pipeline is a near impossibility and even if it was constructed, it would run into a multitude of problems and headaches during its existence. Also, an offshore pipeline under the Caspian Sea is both technically and financially unfeasible. It is indisputable that Iran is the most feasible and practical route for such a pipeline both economically and technologically as well as taking into account political considerations.

Iran must strive and concentrate its utmost effort, both diplomatically and politically through the foreign and oil ministries, whose efforts have been inadequate so far, as well as other channels to convince the international community that indeed, Iran, is the best possible route for any energy pipeline transferring the oil and gas reserves of the Central Asian republic to the international market.

Source: Iran News
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