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Afghanistan and the New ‘Great Game’

August 22, 2009
John Foster / Associated Press

Humanitarian and security concerns in Afghanistan mask a strategic energy concern. Afghanistan borders countries rich in oil and natural gas. Turkmenistan has the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, which can only be brought to market through pipelines. This makes Afghanistan a "strategic piece of real estate" in the pipeline rivalry opposing the US and Russia. Prized pipeline route could explain West's stubborn interest in this poor, remote land.


(August 12, 2009) — A glance at a map and a little knowledge of the region suggest that the real reasons for Western military involvement may be largely hidden.

Afghanistan is adjacent to Middle Eastern countries that are rich in oil and natural gas. And though Afghanistan may have little petroleum itself, it borders both Iran and Turkmenistan, countries with the second and third largest natural gas reserves in the world. (Russia is first.)

Turkmenistan is the country nobody talks about. Its huge reserves of natural gas can only get to market through pipelines. Until 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union and its gas flowed only north through Soviet pipelines. Now the Russians plan a new pipeline north. The Chinese are building a new pipeline east. The US is pushing for "multiple oil and gas export routes." High-level Russian, Chinese and American delegations visit Turkmenistan frequently to discuss energy. The US even has a special envoy for Eurasian energy diplomacy.

Rivalry for pipeline routes and energy resources reflects competition for power and control in the region. Pipelines are important today in the same way that railway building was important in the 19th century. They connect trading partners and influence the regional balance of power. Afghanistan is a strategic piece of real estate in the geopolitical struggle for power and dominance in the region.

Since the 1990s, Washington has promoted a natural gas pipeline south through Afghanistan. The route would pass through Kandahar province. In 2007, Richard Boucher, US assistant secretary of state, said: "One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan," and to link South and Central Asia "so that energy can flow to the south." Oil and gas have motivated US involvement in the Middle East for decades. Unwittingly or willingly, Canadian forces are supporting American goals.

The proposed pipeline is called TAPI, after the initials of the four participating countries (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India). Eleven high-level planning meetings have been held during the past seven years, with Asian Development Bank sponsorship and multilateral support (including Canada's). Construction is planned to start next year.

The pipeline project was documented at three donor conferences on Afghanistan in the past three years and is referenced in the 2008 Afghan Development Plan. Canada was represented at these conferences at the ministerial level. Thus, our leaders must know. Yet they avoid discussion of the planned pipeline through Afghanistan.

The 2008 Manley Report, a foundation for extending the Canadian mission to 2011, ignored energy issues. It talked about Afghanistan as if it were an island, albeit with a porous Pakistani border. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he "will withdraw the bulk of the military forces" in 2011. The remaining troops will focus mostly on "reconstruction and development." Does that include the pipeline?

Pipeline rivalry is slightly more visible in Europe. Ukraine is the main gateway for gas from Russia to Europe. The United States has pushed for alternate pipelines and encouraged European countries to diversify their sources of supply. Recently built pipelines for oil and gas originate in Azerbaijan and extend through Georgia to Turkey. They are the jewels in the crown of US strategy to bypass Russia and Iran.

The rivalry continues with plans for new gas pipelines to Europe from Russia and the Caspian region. The Russians plan South Stream – a pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria. The European Union and US are backing a pipeline called Nabucco that would supply gas to Europe via Turkey. Nabucco would get some gas from Azerbaijan, but that country doesn't have enough. Additional supply could come from Turkmenistan, but Russia is blocking a link across the Caspian Sea. Iran offers another source, but the US is blocking the use of Iranian gas.

Meanwhile, Iran is planning a pipeline to deliver gas east to Pakistan and India. Pakistan has agreed in principle, but India has yet to do so. It's an alternative to the long-planned, US-supported pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

A very big game is underway, with geopolitics intruding everywhere. US journalist Steven LeVine describes American policy in the region as "pipeline-driven." Other countries are pushing for pipeline routes, too. The energy game remains largely hidden; the focus is on humanitarian, development and national security concerns. In Canada, Afghanistan has been avoided in the past two elections.

With the US surge underway and the British ambassador to Washington predicting a decades-long commitment, it's reasonable to ask: Why are the US and NATO in Afghanistan? Could the motivation be power, a permanent military bridgehead, access to energy resources?

Militarizing energy has a high price in dollars, lives and morality. There are long-term consequences for everyone. Canadian voters want to know: Why is Afghanistan so important?

John Foster is an energy economist and author of A Pipeline Through A Troubled Land – Afghanistan, Canada, and the New Great Energy Game, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It is avaialble online at http://www.policyalternatives.ca/documents/National_Office_Pubs/2008/A_Pipeline_Through_a_Troubled_Land.pdf

Why is Afghanistan Important to the West? The Roshaniya and the Masons.

(January 20, 2009) — The Roshaniya are an Afghan secret society whose importance is barely recognised. "Roshan" means "light" in Dari and Pashto, the national Afghan languages. In Latin, "lux lucis" is light, forming a direct linguistic connection to Lucifer.

In 1907, Habibullah Khan, Amir of Afghanistan, was inducted into Masonry in Calcutta by the highest-ranking Freemasons in British India. In true Roshaniya tradition, he took the first three ordinary degrees all at once.

Afghanistan, a dustbowl of dirt-tracks and caves, therefore had importance to British Masonry far beyond its role as a trade route. The Amir knew this and so did his illustrious sponsors. This is why it remains important to this day.

The Second World War can be viewed as a fight between secret societies: the Thule Society (the Nazis) and the Freemasons. Similarly, the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are much richer in symbolism than is commonly recognized.

Additional Information:
• McMahon, Henry A. An Account of the Entry of H. M. Habibullah Khan Amir of Afghanistan into Freemasonry. London: Favil Press, Ltd., 1936.
Call number: 16.8.H116 M167 1936

National Heritage Museum.

THE Roshaniya (59:04 minutes) – September 10, 2008
Mystery Babylon is a series of shortwave radio broadcasts made by former naval intelligence officer and author Milton William Cooper, which originally aired on his show, The Hour of the Time, on WWCR in 1993-1994. The title refers to mystery religions, and the biblical figure the Whore of Babylon. The series, a culmination of over 30 years of research into the history of the Mystery Schools, Freemasonry, and the New World Order, consists of 42 audio tapes and 1 video tape.

Over the course of the series, Cooper gives an extensive background of the occult history and origins of secret societies throughout history and up to the present day.

Starting with the dawn of man, Cooper brings the listener through the Egyptian mystery religion of Isis and Osiris and on to the beginnings of the secret society networks from the Assassins to the Freemasons and on to the Nazis, and explains how their belief in ancient wisdom and rituals is preserved and practiced by various social, religious, and political groups, such as the Bohemian Club, the Skull and Bones, and Rosicruscians, to this day. http://www.hourofthetime.com/radioshow.html




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