a war for Oil?
- From: The Messenger <georgeswk@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2010 06:49:55 -0800
On Dec 6, 7:40 am, Raymond <Bluerhy...@xxxxxxx> wrote:
US planned War In Afghanistan
Long Before September 11
By Patrick Martin
Insider accounts published in the British, French and Indian media
have revealed that US officials threatened war against Afghanistan
during the summer of 2001. These reports include the prediction, made
in July, that "if the military action went ahead, it would take place
before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of
October at the latest." The Bush administration began its bombing
strikes on the hapless, poverty-stricken country October 7, and ground
attacks by US Special Forces began October 19.
It is not an accident that these revelations have appeared overseas,
rather than in the US. The ruling classes in these countries have
their own economic and political interests to look after, which do not
coincide, and in some cases directly clash, with the drive by the
American ruling elite to seize control of oil-rich territory in
The American media has conducted a systematic cover-up of the real
economic and strategic interests that underlie the war against
Afghanistan, in order to sustain the pretense that the war emerged
overnight, full-blown, in response to the terrorist attacks of
The pundits for the American television networks and major daily
newspapers celebrate the rapid military defeat of the Taliban regime
as an unexpected stroke of good fortune. They distract public
attention from the conclusion that any serious observer would be
compelled to draw from the events of the past two weeks: that the
speedy victory of the US-backed forces reveals careful planning and
preparation by the American military, which must have begun well
before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The official American myth is that "everything changed" on the day
four airliners were hijacked and nearly 5,000 people murdered. The US
military intervention in Afghanistan, by this account, was hastily
improvised in less than a month. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz, in a television interview November 18, actually claimed
that only three weeks went into planning the military onslaught.
This is only one of countless lies emanating from the Pentagon and
White House about the war against Afghanistan. The truth is that the
US intervention was planned in detail and carefully prepared long
before the terrorist attacks provided the pretext for setting it in
motion. If history had skipped over September 11, and the events of
that day had never happened, it is very likely that the United States
would have gone to war in Afghanistan anyway, and on much the same
Afghanistan and the scramble for oil
The United States ruling elite has been contemplating war in Central
Asia for at least a decade. As long ago as 1991, following the defeat
of Iraq in the Persian Gulf War, Newsweek magazine published an
article headlined "Operation Steppe Shield?" It reported that the US
military was preparing an operation in Kazakhstan modeled on the
Operation Desert Shield deployment in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
If the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union provided the opportunity
for the projection of American power into Central Asia, the discovery
of vast oil and gas reserves provided the incentive. While the Caspian
Sea coast of Azerbaijan (Baku) has been an oil production center for a
century, it was only in the past decade that huge new reserves were
discovered in the northwest Caspian (Kazakhstan) and in Turkmenistan,
near the southwest Caspian.
American oil companies have acquired rights to as much as 75 percent
of the output of these new fields, and US government officials have
hailed the Caspian and Central Asia as a potential alternative to
dependence on oil from the unstable Persian Gulf region. American
troops have followed in the wake of these contracts. US Special Forces
began joint operations with Kazakhstan in 1997 and with Uzbekistan a
year later, training for intervention especially in the mountainous
southern region that includes Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and northern
The major problem in exploiting the energy riches of Central Asia is
how to get the oil and gas from the landlocked region to the world
market. US officials have opposed using either the Russian pipeline
system or the easiest available land route, across Iran to the Persian
Gulf. Instead, over the past decade, US oil companies and government
officials have explored a series of alternative pipeline routes-west
through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean; east
through Kazakhstan and China to the Pacific; and, most relevant to the
current crisis, south from Turkmenistan across western Afghanistan and
Pakistan to the Indian Ocean.
The Afghanistan pipeline route was pushed by the US-based Unocal oil
company, which engaged in intensive negotiations with the Taliban
regime. These talks, however, ended in disarray in 1998, as US
relations with Afghanistan were inflamed by the bombing of US
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, for which Osama bin Laden was held
responsible. In August 1998, the Clinton administration launched
cruise missile attacks on alleged bin Laden training camps in eastern
Afghanistan. The US government demanded that the Taliban hand over bin
Laden and imposed economic sanctions. The pipeline talks languished.
Subverting the Taliban
Throughout 1999 the US pressure on Afghanistan increased. On February
3 of that year, Assistant Secretary of State Karl E. Inderfurth and
State Department counterterrorism chief Michael Sheehan traveled to
Islamabad, Pakistan, to meet the Taliban's deputy foreign minister,
Abdul Jalil. They warned him that the US would hold the government of
Afghanistan responsible for any further terrorist acts by bin Laden.
According to a report in the Washington Post (October 3, 2001), the
Clinton administration and Nawaz Sharif, then president of Pakistan,
agreed on a joint covert operation to kill Osama bin Laden in 1999.
The US would supply satellite intelligence, air support and financing,
while Pakistan supplied the Pushtun-speaking operatives who would
penetrate southern Afghanistan and carry out the actual killing.
The Pakistani commando team was up and running and ready to strike by
October 1999, the Post reported. One former official told the
newspaper, "It was an enterprise. It was proceeding." Clinton aides
were delighted at the prospect of a successful assassination, with one
declaring, "It was like Christmas."
The attack was aborted on October 12, 1999, when Sharif was overthrown
in a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf, who halted the
proposed covert operation. The Clinton administration had to settle
for a UN Security Council resolution that demanded the Taliban turn
over bin Laden to "appropriate authorities," but did not require he be
handed over to the United States.
McFarlane and Abdul Haq
US subversion against the Taliban continued in 2000, according to an
account published November 2 in the Wall Street Journal, written by
Robert McFarlane, former national security adviser in the Reagan
administration. McFarlane was hired by two wealthy Chicago commodity
speculators, Joseph and James Ritchie, to assist them in recruiting
and organizing anti-Taliban guerrillas among Afghan refugees in
Pakistan. Their principal Afghan contact was Abdul Haq, the former
mujahedin leader who was executed by the Taliban last month after an
unsuccessful attempt to spark a revolt in his home province.
McFarlane held meetings with Abdul Haq and other former mujahedin in
the course of the fall and winter of 2000. After the Bush
administration took office, McFarlane parlayed his Republican
connections into a series of meetings with State Department, Pentagon
and even White House officials. All encouraged the preparation of an
anti-Taliban military campaign.
During the summer, long before the United States launched airstrikes
on the Taliban, James Ritchie traveled to Tajikistan with Abdul Haq
and Peter Tomsen, who had been the US special envoy to the Afghan
opposition during the first Bush administration. There they met with
Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, with the goal
of coordinating their Pakistan-based attacks with the only military
force still offering resistance to the Taliban.
Finally, according to McFarlane, Abdul Haq "decided in mid-August to
go ahead and launch operations in Afghanistan. He returned to
Peshawar, Pakistan, to make final preparations." In other words, this
phase of the anti-Taliban war was under way well before September 11.
While the Ritchies have been portrayed in the American media as
freelance operators motivated by emotional ties to Afghanistan, a
country they lived in briefly while their father worked as a civil
engineer in the 1950s, at least one report suggests a link to the oil
pipeline discussions with the Taliban. In 1998 James Ritchie visited
Afghanistan to discuss with the Taliban a plan to sponsor small
businesses there. He was accompanied by an official from Delta Oil of
Saudi Arabia, which was seeking to build a gas pipeline across
Afghanistan in partnership with an Argentine firm.
A CIA secret war
McFarlane's revelations come in the course of a bitter diatribe
against the CIA for "betraying" Abdul Haq, failing to back his
operations in Afghanistan, and leaving him to die at the hands of the
Taliban. The CIA evidently regarded both McFarlane and Abdul Haq as
less than reliable-and it had its own secret war going on in the same
region, the southern half of Afghanistan where the population is
According to a front-page article in the Washington Post November 18,
the CIA has been mounting paramilitary operations in southern
Afghanistan since 1997. The article carries the byline of Bob
Woodward, the Post writer made famous by Watergate, who is a frequent
conduit for leaks from top-level military and intelligence officials.
Woodward provides details about the CIA's role in the current military
conflict, which includes the deployment of a secret paramilitary unit,
the Special Activities Division. This force began combat on September
27, using both operatives on the ground and Predator surveillance
drones equipped with missiles that could be launched by remote
The Special Activities Division, Woodward reports, "consists of teams
of about half a dozen men who do not wear military uniforms. The
division has about 150 fighters, pilots and specialists, and is made
up mostly of hardened veterans who have retired from the US military.
"For the last 18 months, the CIA has been working with tribes and
warlords in southern Afghanistan, and the division's units have helped
create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban's
This means that the US spy agency was engaged in attacks against the
Afghan regime-what under other circumstances the American government
would call terrorism-from the spring of 2000, more than a year before
the suicide hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center and
damaged the Pentagon.
War plans take shape
With the installation of George Bush in the White House, the focus of
American policy in Afghanistan shifted from a limited incursion to
kill or capture bin Laden to preparing a more robust military
intervention directed at the Taliban regime as a whole.
The British-based Jane's International Security reported March 15,
2001 that the new American administration was working with India, Iran
and Russia "in a concerted front against Afghanistan's Taliban
regime." India was supplying the Northern Alliance with military
equipment, advisers and helicopter technicians, the magazine said, and
both India and Russia were using bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
for their operations.
The magazine added: "Several recent meetings between the newly
instituted Indo-US and Indo-Russian joint working groups on terrorism
led to this effort to tactically and logistically counter the Taliban.
Intelligence sources in Delhi said that while India, Russia and Iran
were leading the anti-Taliban campaign on the ground, Washington was
giving the Northern Alliance information and logistic support."
On May 23, the White House announced the appointment of Zalmay
Khalilzad to a position on the National Security Council as special
assistant to the president and senior director for Gulf, Southwest
Asia and Other Regional Issues. Khalilzad is a former official in the
Reagan and the first Bush administrations. After leaving the
government, he went to work for Unocal.
On June 26 of this year, the magazine IndiaReacts reported more
details of the cooperative efforts of the US, India, Russia and Iran
against the Taliban regime. "India and Iran will 'facilitate' US and
Russian plans for 'limited military action' against the Taliban if the
contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's
fundamentalist regime," the magazine said.
At this stage of military planning, the US and Russia were to supply
direct military assistance to the Northern Alliance, working through
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, in order to roll back the Taliban lines
toward the city of Mazar-e-Sharif-a scenario strikingly similar to
what actually took place over the past two weeks. An unnamed third
country supplied the Northern Alliance with anti-tank rockets that had
already been put to use against the Taliban in early June.
"Diplomats say that the anti-Taliban move followed a meeting between
US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov and later between Powell and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant
Singh in Washington," the magazine added. "Russia, Iran and India have
also held a series of discussions and more diplomatic activity is
Unlike the current campaign, the original plan involved the use of
military forces from both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as well as Russia
itself. IndiaReacts said that in early June Russian President Vladimir
Putin told a meeting of the Confederation of Independent States, which
includes many of the former Soviet republics, that military action
against the Taliban was in the offing. One effect of September 11 was
to create the conditions for the United States to intervene on its
own, without any direct participation by the military forces of the
Soviet successor states, and thus claim an undisputed American right
to dictate the shape of a settlement in Afghanistan.
The US threatens war-before September 11
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, two reports appeared in the British media
indicating that the US government had threatened military action
against Afghanistan several months before September 11.
The BBC's George Arney reported September 18 that American officials
had told former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik in mid-July of
plans for military action against the Taliban regime:
"Mr. Naik said US officials told him of the plan at a UN-sponsored
international contact group on Afghanistan which took place in
"Mr. Naik told the BBC that at the meeting the US representatives told
him that unless Bin Laden was handed over swiftly America would take
military action to kill or capture both Bin Laden and the Taliban
leader, Mullah Omar.
"The wider objective, according to Mr. Naik, would be to topple the
Taliban regime and install a transitional government of moderate
Afghans in its place-possibly under the leadership of the former
Afghan King Zahir Shah.
"Mr. Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from
bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place.
"He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation
and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby.
"Mr. Naik was told that if the military action went ahead it would
take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the
middle of October at the latest."
Four days later, on September 22, the Guardian newspaper confirmed
this account. The warnings to Afghanistan came out of a four-day
meeting of senior US, Russian, Iranian and Pakistani officials at a
hotel in Berlin in mid-July, the third in a series of back-channel
conferences dubbed "brainstorming on Afghanistan."
The participants included Naik, together with three Pakistani
generals; former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Saeed Rajai
Khorassani; Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister of the Northern
Alliance; Nikolai Kozyrev, former Russian special envoy to
Afghanistan, and several other Russian officials; and three Americans:
Tom Simons, a former US ambassador to Pakistan; Karl Inderfurth, a
former assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs; and Lee
Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh
affairs in the State Department until 1997.
The meeting was convened by Francesc Vendrell, then and now the deputy
chief UN representative for Afghanistan. While the nominal purpose of
the conference was to discuss the possible outline of a political
settlement in Afghanistan, the Taliban refused to attend. The
Americans discussed the shift in policy toward Afghanistan from
Clinton to Bush, and strongly suggested that military action was an
While all three American former officials denied making any specific
threats, Coldren told the Guardian, "there was some discussion of the
fact that the United States was sodisgusted with the Taliban that they
might be considering some military action." Naik, however, cited one
American declaring that action against bin Laden was imminent: "This
time they were very sure. They had all the intelligence and would not
miss him this time. It would be aerial action, maybe helicopter
gunships, and not only overt, but from very close proximity to
The Guardian summarized: "The threats of war unless the Taliban
surrendered Osama bin Laden were passed to the regime in Afghanistan
by the Pakistani government, senior diplomatic sources revealed
yesterday. The Taliban refused to comply but the serious nature of
what they were told raises the possibility that Bin Laden, far from
launching the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the
Pentagon out of the blue 10 days ago, was launching a pre-emptive
strike in response to what he saw as US threats."
Bush, oil and Taliban
Further light on secret contacts between the Bush administration and
the Taliban regime is shed by a book released November 15 in France,
entitled Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth, written by Jean-Charles
Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie. Brisard is a former French secret
service agent, author of a previous report on bin Laden's Al Qaeda
network, and former director of strategy for the French corporation
Vivendi, while Dasquie is an investigative journalist.
The two French authors write that the Bush administration was willing
to accept the Taliban regime, despite the charges of sponsoring
terrorism, if it cooperated with plans for the development of the oil
resources of Central Asia.
Until August, they claim, the US government saw the Taliban "as a
source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction
of an oil pipeline across Central Asia." It was only when the Taliban
refused to accept US conditions that "this rationale of energy
security changed into a military one."
By way of corroboration, one should note the curious fact that neither
the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration ever placed
Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged
with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama
bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban regime. Such a designation would
have made it impossible for an American oil or construction company to
sign a deal with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas
Talks between the Bush administration and the Taliban began in
February 2001, shortly after Bush's inauguration. A Taliban emissary
arrived in Washington in March with presents for the new chief
executive, including an expensive Afghan carpet. But the talks
themselves were less than cordial. Brisard said, "At one moment during
the negotiations, the US representatives told the Taliban, 'either you
accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of
As long as the possibility of a pipeline deal remained, the White
House stalled any further investigation into the activities of Osama
bin Laden, Brisard and Dasquie write. They report that John O'Neill,
deputy director of the FBI, resigned in July in protest over this
obstruction. O'Neill told them in an interview, "the main obstacles to
investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the
role played by Saudi Arabia in it." In a strange coincidence, O'Neill
accepted a position as security chief of the World Trade Center after
leaving the FBI, and was killed on September 11.
Confirming Naiz Naik's account of the secret Berlin meeting, the two
French authors add that there was open discussion of the need for the
Taliban to facilitate a pipeline from Kazakhstan in order to insure US
and international recognition. The increasingly acrimonious US-Taliban
talks were broken off August 2, after a final meeting between US envoy
Christina Rocca and a Taliban representative in Islamabad. Two months
later the United States was bombing Kabul.
The politics of provocation
This account of the preparations for war against Afghanistan brings us
to September 11 itself. The terrorist attack that destroyed the World
Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon was an important link in the
chain of causality that produced the US attack on Afghanistan. The US
government had planned the war well in advance, but the shock of
September 11 made it politically feasible, by stupefying public
opinion at home and giving Washington essential leverage on reluctant
Both the American public and dozens of foreign governments were
stampeded into supporting military action against Afghanistan, in the
name of the fight against terrorism. The Bush administration targeted
Kabul without presenting any evidence that either binLaden or the
Taliban regime was responsible for the World Trade Center atrocity. It
seized on September 11 as the occasion for advancing longstanding
ambitions to assert American power in Central Asia.
There is no reason to think that September 11 was merely a fortuitous
occurrence. Every other detail of the war in Afghanistan was carefully
prepared. It is unlikely that the American government left to chance
the question of providing a suitable pretext for military action.
In the immediate aftermath of September 11, there were press reports-
again, largely overseas-that US intelligence agencies had received
specific warnings about large-scale terrorist attacks, including the
use of hijacked airplanes. It is quite possible that a decision was
made at the highest levels of the American state to allow such an
attack to proceed, perhaps without imagining the actual scale of the
damage, in order to provide the necessary spark for war in
How otherwise to explain such well-established facts as the decision
of top officials at the FBI to block an investigation into Zaccarias
Massaoui, the Franco-Moroccan immigrant who came under suspicion after
he allegedly sought training from a US flight school on how to steer a
commercial airliner, but not to take off or land?
The Minneapolis field office had Massaoui arrested in early August,
and asked FBI headquarters for permission to conduct further
inquiries, including a search of the hard drive of his computer. The
FBI tops refused, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence
of criminal intent on Massaoui's part-an astonishing decision for an
agency not known for its tenderness on the subject of civil
This is not to say that the American government deliberately planned
every detail of the terrorist attacks or anticipated that nearly 5,000
people would be killed. But the least likely explanation of September
11 is the official one: that dozens of Islamic fundamentalists, many
with known ties to Osama bin Laden, were able to carry out a wide-
ranging conspiracy on three continents, targeting the most prominent
symbols of American power, without any US intelligence agency having
the slightest idea of what they were doing.
Thursday, December 4, 1997 Published at 19:27 GMT
World: West Asia
December 4, 1997 (long before 9-11
Pipeline needed across Afghanistan US oil companies may need troops
to secure pipeline area.
Unocal has already begun training potential staff. Afghan economy has
been devastated by 20 years of civil war. A deal to go ahead with the
pipeline project could give it a desperately-needed boost.
Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline. The radio has reported
several visits to Kabul by Unocal and Bridas company officials over
the past few months.
The 1,300km pipeline will carry gas across Afghanistan's harsh
A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the
United States for talks with an international energy company that
wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan
A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to
spend several days at the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.
Unocal says it has agreements both with Turkmenistan to sell its gas
and with Pakistan to buy it.
The Afghan economy has been devasted by 20 years of civil war
But, despite the civil war in Afghanistan, Unocal has been in
competition with an Argentinian firm, Bridas, to actually construct
Last month, the Argentinian firm, Bridas, announced that it was close
to signing a two-billion dollar deal to build the pipeline, which
would carry gas 1,300 kilometres from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, across
In May, Taleban-controlled radio in Kabul said a visiting delegation
from an Argentinian company had announced that pipeline construction
would start "soon".
The radio has reported several visits to Kabul by Unocal and Bridas
company officials over the past few months.
A BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to build a pipeline
across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from
developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.
With the various Afghan factions still at war, the project has looked
from the outside distinctly unpromising.
Last month the Taleban Minister of Information and Culture, Amir Khan
Muttaqi, said the Taleban had held talks with both American and
Argentine-led consortia over transit rights but that no final
agreement had yet been reached. He said an official team from
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan should meet to ensure each
country benefited from any deal.
However, Unocal clearly believes it is still in with a chance - to the
extent that it has already begun training potential staff.
It has commissioned the University of Nebraska to teach Afghan men the
technical skills needed for pipeline construction. Nearly 140 people
were enrolled last month in Kandahar and Unocal also plans to hold
training courses for women in administrative skills.
Women face working restrictions under Taleban rule
Although the Taleban authorities only allow women to work in the
health sector, organisers of the training say they haven't so far
raised any objections.
The BBC regional correspondent says the Afghan economy has been
devastated by 20 years of civil war. A deal to go ahead with the
pipeline project could give it a desperately-needed boost.
Oil companies have dreamed of a trans-Afghan pipeline But peace must
be established first -- and that for the moment still seems a distant
prospect. We need to send two combat battalions to Afghanistan
The oil companies commit to future direct investments in Kazakhstan of
January 3, 2002, Corpwatch
USA: Unocal Advisor Named Representative to Afghanistan
³President Bush has appointed a former aide to the American oil
company Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to
Afghanistan. The nomination was announced December 31, nine days after
the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in
Karma, What a concept!
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