Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

U.S. troops, who have recently burned the Quran and mocked dead bodies of Taliban soldiers, will be setenced. Details of the punishment are not known, however we do know that it will be a disciplinary action and not a criminal prosecution. Most likely, they face reduction in pay or reduction in rank. Meanwhile, foreign troops and Afghans continued to be killed in Afghanistan, while reports of bombings and other attacks come almost daily. Yet, there are some new trends in this conflict.

Lets review what we know so far.

It is known that the American justice system is very kind to its soldiers. For the burning of hundreds of copies of the Quran and mockery of Taliban corpses the guilty American soldiers will get a minimum sentence. Recall that earlier this year similar actions led to mass protests by the Afghan population, resulting in 30 dead, including two US soldiers. Following this, the Taliban began their traditional spring offensive, which this time was surprisingly extensive and effective. Among the most high profile attacks were the April attacks on foreign facilities across the country, including foreign embassies and the NATO mission in Kabul.

Against this background, foreign forces continue to leave Afghanistan. To date, 202 military bases have been closed, and a further 282 bases were transferred under the control of government security forces. Although the term “military base” includes conventional control points, some of which were not designed for more than 300 soldiers. However, active withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan continues, and until the end of the year another 200 bases will be closed.

Reduction of the number of ISAF employees increases casualties of the Afghan military and police. The tally this year is about 600 Afghan police dead on a monthly basis, and about 50 foreign troops. Civilian casualties can not be numbered, but basic estimates show a rising trend.

The Taliban is also incurring losses. The spring offensive reduced their number by over 2,000 militants, forcing them to abandon outright assault in favour of guerrilla tactics. Among the most popular – widespread explosive booby traps and burning of fuel trucks in NATO supply trains.

The new trend of the conflict is the Afghan people’s militia. Ordinary people, seeing the helplessness of the authorities, took up arms to defend their lands from the Taliban. The first such spontaneous uprising in one of the provinces was met with unexpected success and became a model for other areas of the country. However, implications of this movement are difficult to estimate. On the one hand, it is a threat to the Taliban, and on the other – to the government, as the militia does not have any love for either side. Many forces will be tempted to take the lead in this movement and use it for their own political purposes.

Another growing trend is the sabotage attacks carried out militants who have successfully infiltrated the ranks of Afghan police. Their number and impact this year has increased dramatically. Thus 32 such attacks this year claimed the lives of 40 troops of the international coalition. This tactic has a major demoralizing effect on the foreign military as literally every minute they are forced to expect a shot in the back from their Afghan colleagues.

It is noteworthy that President Karzai blamed such acts of sabotage on foreign intelligence services. And even though no one was mentioned directly, it was clear that he was referring to Iran and Pakistan. Americans do not agree with such an assessment, but it does not make a difference – foreigners soldiers continue to die at the hands of militants in disguise.

Thus, the situation in Afghanistan after 11 years of Operation Enduring Freedom is a total disaster. And we have no illusions about the fact that after departure of the foreigners troops the Karzai administration would be able to resolve the situation.

Petro news - Afghanistan is Full of Oil

Petro news – Afghanistan is Full of Oil

One of our recent articles about the discovery of huge oil reserves in Tajikistan have led readers to the logical question – if there is oil in Tajikistan, shouldn’t’ there also be oil in Afghanistan? Indeed, Afghanistan has major hydrocarbon reserves and international oil giants are already scrambling for the right to develop Afghan deposits. However, mining operations in the troubled country carry specific risks, which we discuss below.

Got oil? We’re coming over.

According to recent reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, Afghanistan has a substantial mineral base, containing cobalt, iron, copper, gold and even lithium. But the oil fields of northern Afghanistan are its most attractive feature: the Afghan-Tajik Basin is reported to contain some 1.9 billion barrels of oil.

Of course, this black gold cannot remain without an owner for too long. Since the Afghans are unable to extract it on their own, foreign oil companies have to do the “dirty work”. A tender is currently under way to award oil exploration licenses, but with results due only in December participants keep their offers under wraps. However, we do know the tender list includes ExxonMobile (U.S.), Dragon Oil (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Energy (Kuwait), ONGC Videsh (India), Petra Energia (Brazil), Pakistan Petroleum (Pakistan) PTT (Thailand), and TPAO (Turkey).

The list above includes only the lucky few who passed the initial tender commission, with over 20 other international oil companies having dropped out at the early stage. As you can see, interest in Afgan oil is, indeed, substantial.

But…. where is the ubiquitous China, you ask?

Haste makes waste

The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) already won a tender to develop oil fields in the Amu Darya river basin last year. And it is presicely China’s interst that, according to some sources, forced the other players to pay more attention to Afghan oil. The market knows that profiting after the Chinese have taken root will not be easy, so the scramble to join the game is understandable. Even US Congressman Rohrabacher, known for his provocative statements, said on this subject: “The Chinese do everything for their gain only, using for their own benefit even the war waged by the United States” (source: InoSMI).

However, the Chinese haste to be first kid in the sandbox may have played a cruel joke on them. The problem is that the license acquired by the CNPC  in northern Afghanistan falls squarely onto the territory of the so-called Dostumistan, a region controlled by Abdul Rashid Dostum. Permit us a few words to paint a proper picture of this character.

Dostum is well known to Soviet Afgan veterans. Half-Uzbek and half Tajik by birth, after completing his education in the USSR Abdul-Rashid returned to Afghanistan to commence his military and political career. During the Afghan War in 1979-1989 he was the commander of the 53rd Division of the Afgan government troops, and he backed the Najibullah government until 1992. After its collapse Dostum was the de facto ruler of a vast northern region with its capital in Mazar-i-Sharif, which was named “Dostumistan.” Over the years he has repeatedly changed his political views, feeling the country for his life a number of times, but each time he returned and regained power. At the moment, Dostum is chief of General Staff of Afghanistan and the unofficial ruler of the same Dostumistan.

The problem with all of this is that the Chinese have made a rather grievous error in failing to take Dostum’s interests in the region into account when they took up mining his land. In order to win the tender the Chinese had for form a joint venture with one of Karzai’s company, who promised to solve any problems that may arise, and complete protection. But in Afghanistan, Karzai’s authority extends only to the territory controlled by Karzai. Therefore, upon seeing the first Chinese engineers on their territory, Dostum’s militia have demanded hefty baksheesh for the right to continue drilling operations. Given that even in the best of circumstances the Chinese will see first debit in only about five years, CNPC appears to have landed itself in a bit of hot water.

However, for major international oil corporations such problems are nothing new. A similar situation prevails in the African continent, and certainly the oil production in Afghanistan is no more difficult than, say, on the Arctic shelf. This largely explains the high interest in profiting from exploration of Afghan mineral resources. In light of the foregoing, the news of the oil fields in Tajikistan is not so fantastic.

Eugene Super