Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oil imperialism; Iraq, Libya and now Balochistan…..

"The oil companies are the major international corporations. Since oil has become important, they have virtually owned the State Department. They are the corporations within the American imperialist system that have the greatest concern for American foreign policy. Because they have the largest overseas investments, their influence over foreign policy has always been extremely strong.” Noam Chomsky

A fugitive from Pakistani law, a Pakistani equivalent of OBL, has finally found a safe haven in Switzerland after having been pushed out of Afghanistan under Pakistani pressure. A person responsible for killings and insurgency in Pakistan has received a kind of media projection in the USA that only a very popular leader deserves. According to a New York Times report, a slim figure in a dark suit, Brahumdagh Bugti, 30, could pass for a banker in the streets of this sedate Swiss city (Geneva). But in truth he is a resistance leader in exile, a player in an increasingly ugly independence war within Pakistan. He has been on the run since 2006. 

The report builds his image of a hero. The fact that the New York Times is promoting this fugitive makes future American plans very clear; American strategists will not be out of job after installing the rebels’ government in Libya. They have very clear future plans and their next destination is Balochistan which figures very prominent in USA’s national interests. The fugitive being now promoted can realize the dreams of gaining control over Balochistan.

This barren land mass is of special interest to the USA for its oil reserves. The interest incidental to oil is the deep-sea port of Gwadar built by China on Balochistan’s Makran coast.

The US interests, its defense, economic and foreign policies, all are driven by global oil reserves. Wherever there is oil, there is US national interest. Speaking about American oil imperialism, Noam Chomsky in an interview in 1977 had said that there's been a very consistent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, at least since the Second World War, whose primary concern has been to ensure that the energy reserves of the Middle East remain firmly under American control. The State Department noted in 1945 that these reserves constitute a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history. Basically it is a policy meant to keep Saudi Arabia, which has by far the largest known stores of petroleum, under American control.

Commenting on the relation between the U.S. government's policy and the interests of the American oil companies, Chomsky said that the oil companies are the major international corporations. Since oil has become important, they have virtually owned the State Department. They are the corporations within the American imperialist system that have the greatest concern for American foreign policy. Because they have the largest overseas investments, their influence over foreign policy has always been extremely strong.

This all makes motives behind the US policies very clear. The Middle East oil reserves are already firmly under US control with US-installed and backed autocratic regimes. Take the example of Libya, where US-backed NATO forces are in the final stage of overthrowing Qaddafi regime. The Libyan tyrant, Qaddafi was not as pliant as the Saudi rulers or Gulf Emirs. On top of that, Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60×109 m3) as of 2007. Most of Libya remains unexplored as a result of past sanctions and disagreements with foreign oil companies.

Mouth-watering! Isn’t it?

Now look at the “weapons of mass destruction” possessed by Iraq in 2003. Oil reserves in Iraq will be the largest in the world according to recent geological surveys and seismic data. The Iraqi government has stated that new exploration showed Iraq has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, with more than 350 billion barrels. Officially confirmed reserves rank third largest in the world at approximately 143 billion barrels (22.7×109 m3). A major challenge to Iraq's development of the oil sector is that resources are not evenly divided across sectarian lines. Most known resources are in the Shiite areas of the south and the Kurdish north, with few resources in control of the Sunni population in the center.

American access to oil and gas reserves of the Central Asian states was being contemplated through its control of Afghanistan. According to some accounts, US had already decided to attack Afghanistan even before 9/11. Like Iraq’s WMD’s, al Qaeda provided it an excellent excuse to land in and destroy Afghanistan. This move will prove to be counter-productive for the American interests in the years to come because Afghanistan will never be Iraq or Libya for the US.

If the very recent history of America’s global interventionism is any guide, Balochistan should be the next candidate for US-aided rebellion a la Libya.  According to Global Research, Pakistan's extensive oil and gas reserves, largely located in Balochistan province, as well as its pipeline corridors are considered strategic by the Anglo-American alliance, requiring the concurrent militarization of Pakistani territory. Balochistan comprises more than 40 percent of Pakistan's land mass, possesses important reserves of oil and natural gas as well as extensive mineral resources. Balochistan also possesses a deep sea port largely financed by China located at Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, not far from the Straits of Hormuz where 30 % of the world's daily oil supply moves by ship or pipeline.

Pakistan has an estimated 25.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves of which 19 trillion are located in Balochistan. Among foreign oil and gas contractors in Balochistan are BP, Italy's ENI, Austria's OMV, and Australia's BHP. It is worth noting that Pakistan's State oil and gas companies, including PPL which has the largest stake in the Sui oil fields of Balochistan are up for privatization under IMF-World Bank supervision. According to the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Pakistan had proven oil reserves of 300 million barrels, most of which are located in Balochistan. Other estimates place Balochistan oil reserves at an estimated six trillion barrels of oil reserves both on-shore and off-shore.

This brings us to the major theme of this article; Balochistan's strategic energy reserves have a bearing on the separatist agenda. Following a familiar pattern, there are indications that the Baloch insurgency is being supported and abetted by Britain and the US.  In the current geopolitical context, the separatist movement is in the process of being hijacked by foreign powers. British intelligence is allegedly providing covert support to Balochistan separatists (which from the outset have been repressed by Pakistan's military). In June 2006, Pakistan's Senate Committee on Defense accused British intelligence of "abetting the insurgency in the province bordering Iran" [Balochistan]. Ten British MPs were involved in a closed door session of the Senate Committee on Defense regarding the alleged support of Britain's Secret Service to Baloch separatists. Also of relevance are reports of CIA and Mossad support to Baloch rebels in Iran and Southern Afghanistan.

The stated purpose of US counter-terrorism is to provide covert support as well as training to "Liberation Armies" ultimately with a view to destabilizing sovereign governments. In Kosovo, the training of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the 1990s had been entrusted to a private mercenary company, Military Professional Resources Inc (MPRI), on contract to the Pentagon. The BLA bears a canny resemblance to Kosovo's KLA, which was financed by the drug trade and supported by the CIA and Germany's Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND).

The report says that BLA emerged shortly after the 1999 military coup. It has no tangible links to the Baloch resistance movement, which developed since the late 1940s. An aura of mystery surrounds the leadership of the BLA. Washington favors the creation of a "Greater Balochistan" which would integrate the Baloch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran and possibly the Southern tip of Afghanistan, thereby leading to a process of political fracturing in both Iran and Pakistan. The US is using Baloch nationalism for staging an insurgency inside Iran's Sistan-Balochistan province. The 'war on terror' in Afghanistan gives a useful political backdrop for the ascendancy of Baloch militancy. 

In view of this, the patronizing of a scion of Bugti tribe by the imperialist powers and his image building by a paper like the New York Times makes a lot of strategic sense on the part of the US. How has Pakistan positioned itself, diplomatically and militarily, to face the very imminent onslaught of oil imperialism is something of crucial interest for those watching events unfolding in Balochistan, FATA, particularly South Waziristan and Karachi.

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1 comment:

  1. it's not only Bugtis or Mangles who can be effectively used as tools of American state department but sure Zardari too is in place to serve them more effectively as a head of PPP and a ruling junta with his control on establishment as well as politicians. The man knows how to use American funds to buy support in assemblies or on media without any hassles. He has rampaged the political system judiciary and probably army on a massive scale. So all the pieces are already falling in place for America. It is just a matter of time to get in shape.