- Freedom, justice, a world rid of terrorism, Operation
Enduring Freedom has a whole range of stated objectives.
- But is there another, less well advertised motive to
the bombing of Afghanistan?
- With world-wide demand for oil increasing and the Gulf
States - in particular Saudi Arabia - vulnerable to instability the United
States is desperate to tap the vast untapped fields of Kazakhstan and the
other Central Asian states.
- And as Liam Halligan explains Afghanistan is central
to trying to move oil from there to the west:
- The September 11th atrocities sparked a coalition - a
"crusade" said George Bush - for freedom and justice. But take
a closer look. There's an important subtext to the struggle over
- Over the last few years, you may have read that the West
- and particularly the US - is becoming less oil dependent. But it's just
- Back in 1970, the US used 16m barrels each day. Today
that's ballooned to 22m - making America by far the world's biggest oil
- The European Union used 12m barrels a day 30 years ago.
Now it's 15m.
- And oil's not just used for petrol. Right now, you're
reading off a computer monitor made of plastic, presumably in a warm room
and probably wearing man-made fibres. All thanks to oil.
- So where does it all come from?
- Saudi Arabia, of course, is the biggest exporter - over
7m barrels per day. Iran, Iraq and Kuwait are big players too.
- But don't forget the Former Soviet Union to the East
- which exports almost 4,500,000 barrels daily. Apart from Russia, it's
these newly independent Central Asian states that are key.
- Already 20 BILLION barrels of oil reserves have been
found in Khazakhstan - and there could be much more. The oil and gas so
far discovered in these parts is worth THREE TRILLION dollars in today's
- That's why Western oil companies are so interested this
oil to world markets.
- It's the culmination of the Great Game. The struggle
for influence in Central Asia is the last great oil rush, as the West tries
to reduce dependence on the Gulf.
- Russia's already built a pipeline from Kazakhstan to
the Black Sea and onto the outside world, earning billions in oil and gas
- US oil companies could try and build from Baku through
Georgia , or on to Turkey's Mediterranean coast.
- But it would be much, much cheaper to build pipes from
Central Asia through Afghanistan, to the Gulf Coast in Pakistan.
- That's a major reason the US unofficially backed the
Taliban in the mid-90s, when American oil men were planning such a
But when the Taliban turned it's back on Uncle Sam, Western oil money got
- Afghanistan - once the stomping ground of Czars and
- is no stranger to the Great Game.
- As a pipeline route, this remote region is crucial if
Western powers are to reduce their dependence on Saudi Arabia - itself
- The Gulf War was largely about oil. You won't hear it
said often but, inadvertently, this one is too.
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