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Turkmenistan has signed an agreement to provide natural gas to Pakistan and Afghanistan, which would supply the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.
Progress on the pipeline has been made under the bite of sanctions on Iran and NATO’s clear ambitions to leave a force behind in Afghanistan strategically located along the planned pipeline route. At the same time, Afghan authorities are ensuring TAPI partners that they have reached an agreement with the Taliban to protect the pipeline from sabotage. The TAPI pipeline will travel through some of Afghanistan’s most insecure territory. The alternative to this route would run through Iran, but a proposed Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline is strongly opposed by the US and Turkmenistan is not willing to jump into that fray to supply and Iran-Pakistan pipeline with gas. In addition to the Afghan portion of the pipeline, the portion of the pipeline that would run through Pakistan’s volatile Baluchistan Province is also a major security risk. This province, which abuts Iran’s own ethnic-Baluch-dominated Sistan-Baluchistan Province, is a staging ground for US and Israeli destabilization efforts against Iran.
This is a dangerous game to play with the Taliban, which stands to benefit by a revenue boost from the pipeline which could allow it to regroup and re-emerge with more significant force. At the same time, particularly US maneuverings in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province, through which the pipeline will run, could destabilize not only Iran but Pakistan. Recent rumblings in US Congress in the form of support for independence for Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province are having a very negative effect on relations between Islamabad and Washington, and will help to further questions the TAPI pipeline’s feasibility. The TAPI pipeline will cost around $12 million to construct, and countless millions to keep secure.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com