Jan 14 2013

Is Afghanistan’s New Oil and Gas Industry Sparking a New Front in the War?

Seven Afghan villagers were killed after a raid by US/NATO and Afghan forces last night in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. The raid was aimed at capturing a senior Taliban member but in the course of moving rubble in its aftermath, an additional explosion killed seven civilians. An Associated Press reporter captured a local man shouting “Death to America” in response.

Meanwhile, in a private White House meeting on Friday, US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met face to face and agreed to pass the military lead to Afghan forces starting this spring, rather than summer as had been anticipated. The two heads of state also discussed the possibility of a continued U.S. troop presence beyond December 2014, when the U.S. combat mission is set to expire.

Currently, the U.S. has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan. Doubts remain however about whether the Afghan government can adequately provide security to its population and whether Afghan forces can successfully keep the Taliban at bay after the withdrawal of US forces. So-called “Green on Blue” attacks of Afghan soldiers turning on their US and NATO trainers, have also skyrocketed in the past year. Last year also saw a continuation of Taliban-related violence, with increased Taliban attacks in more peaceful areas.

But is the war in Afghanistan simply about the Taliban? A new breaking undercover investigation by Antonia Juhasz found that many of the attacks by the Taliban were aimed at the Karzai Government over control of Afghanistan’s newly discovered fossil fuel resources.

The three week undercover investigation by Juhasz who traveled across Afghanistan and to neighboring countries, found the Pentagon to be the leading US agency pushing for expanded oil and natural gas exploration in Afghanistan. This joint effort by the US and Afghan officials aims to bring much needed revenue by opening up Afghanistan’s oil and gas market to foreign oil corporations.

Oil scouts hired by the Pentagon have confirmed that Taliban attacks on oil facilities are on the rise, with Taliban militia becoming ever more defiant. Juhasz concludes “The result is clear – as development of the oil and gas sector has risen, so too has violence and insecurity.”

Guest: Antonia Juhasz, acclaimed oil and gas politics expert, fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. Her books include: The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry–and What We Must Do to Stop It, and Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill. Her latest article was just published in The Atlantic, entitled The New War for Afghanistan’s Untapped Oil

Click here to read Juhasz’s article about Afghanistan’s oil war.

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