2. This Telegtaph article confirms the high stakes. Uncertain of the date, but clearly prior to September 11th 2001.Warring nation holds the key to oil riches of Central Asiawww.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1996/10/11/wtal111.html
In summary, the prize is huge, strategically and economically...
‘…But there is an immense problem. The Central Asian republics are all land-locked and there is no way to get the oil and gas out. So a race has begun to find a route. There are three main contenders. Russia wants to tap into the mineral wealth of its former empire by pushing pipelines from its Black Sea terminal at Novorossiysk eastwards towards Kazakhstan.
Iran, which dreams of being a powerful player in the region, talks of driving a pipeline from its coast at Chabahar via Mashad into Turkmenistan and beyond.
Pakistan is keen to have a source of oil that bypasses Iran and Russia
Georgia, already at work on a pipeline crossing the Caucasus to tap the fields of Azerbaijan, thinks it could eventually be driven across or around the Caspian into Kazakhstan. But to Western, and especially American interests, none of these options look attractive. Georgia is too unstable, and the idea of allowing a Russian or Iranian hand to rest on the oil jugular is considered too dangerous. Hence the attractions of Afghanistan.’
‘…Unocal, the Californian oil company, in alliance with Delta Oil, the Saudi Arabian company, has been in negotiation with the Taliban, as well as rival warlords, for much of this year over terms for the Turkmenistan-Pakistan pipeline. Preliminary agreement was reached between the two sides long before the fall of Kabul last month.
A vice-president of Unocal said last week that the victory of the Taliban could help the country if it brought stability. That would allow international investors to fund the pipeline, and eventually bring billions of pounds a year in transit revenues to Afghanistan.
Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan.
Pakistan is keen to have a source of oil that bypasses Iran and Russia. The evidence is already overwhelming that the Taliban, which orignated as a group of 2,000 religious students in refugee camps and religious schools just inside Pakistan, have been funded and partly equipped by Pakistani intelligence agencies throughout the two-year campaign that has now led them to Kabul.’
Another article in the same vein:
Oil Barons Court Taliban in Texaswww.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=%2Farchive%2F1997%2F12%2F14%2Fwtal14.html