Tag Archives: Turkmenistan

First ‘Silk Road’ train arrives in Tehran from China

Tehran (AFP) – The first train to connect China and Iran arrived in Tehran on Monday loaded with Chinese goods, reviving the ancient Silk Road, the Iranian railway company said.

The train, carrying 32 containers of commercial products from eastern Zhejiang province, took 14 days to make the 9,500-kilometre (5,900-mile) journey through Kazakstan and Turkmenistan.

“The arrival of this train in less than 14 days is unprecedented,” said the head of the Iranian railway company, Mohsen Pourseyed Aqayi.

“The revival of the Silk Road is crucial for the countries on its route,” he said at a ceremony at Tehran’s rail station attended by the ambassadors of China and Turkmenistan.

The journey was 30 days shorter than the sea voyage from Shanghai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, according to Aqayi.

The railway will not stop in Tehran “as we are planning to extend the railway to Europe in future,” generating more income for Iran from passing trains, he added.

Read more » Yahoo News
See more » http://news.yahoo.com/first-silk-road-train-arrives-tehran-china-134703954.html

Turkmenistan starts work on $10bn pipeline bringing gas to Pakistan

By AFP

ASHGABAT: Energy-rich Turkmenistan’s leader has ordered the start of construction on a pipeline carrying gas from the former Soviet state to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, their government said on Saturday.

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered state companies Turkmengaz and Turkmengazneftstroi to begin building the isolated republic’s section of the pipeline, state media said.

Overall, the pipeline will stretch 1,800 kilometres and is likely to cost more than $10 billion.

The Turkmenistan official newspaper also said the government expects the gas link, with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic metres, to be fully operational by the end of 2018.

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project could help ease growing energy deficits in Asian giants India and Pakistan.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1218124/

First Silk Road rail cargo enters Iran

The first cargo carried on the Silk Road railway has entered Iran from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, local officials said.

The cargo, including 45 freight wagons, crossed the Incha-Burun border with Turkmenistan into Iran, local officials in the Golestan province said.

It followed the signing of a document for cooperation between Iranian and Kazakh railway officials, head of the Northeast Railway 2 Mohammad Reza Qorbani said.

In their joint session, the mode of cooperation between Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and other countries for transit and rail transportation was discussed.

“At the session, existing infrastructures and potentials of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and neighboring countries, Iran’s development plans and active transit corridors passing through Iran were discussed,” Qorbani said.

They also decided to work on developing the Incha-Burun-Bandar Abbas line as the new Silk Road route, he said.

The railway linking Iran to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan at a length of 926 kilometers was inaugurated last year.

Iran and Central Asian nations have stepped up work on establishing an integrated freight railway network to link Asia to the Persian Gulf, Europe and Africa.

It is part of an ambitious Chinese plan to revive the Silk Road which would require building of a network of roads, railways, ports and airports.

Continue reading First Silk Road rail cargo enters Iran

The great game

Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.

President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.

President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.

Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.

Continue reading The great game

Pakistan to do what it deems fit, says Khar

By Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: As Islamabad and Tehran set up a joint contracting company to complete the construction of the $7.5 billion IP gas pipeline project within the next 15 months, Pakistan does not appear apologetic and says that any other government would have done what the PPP-led government did.

“Pakistan continues to suffer from huge energy deficiency and this directly affects our industry and GDP growth. Gas is the cheapest commodity to generate electricity. We need to look at all possible sources of energy including the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will meet only half the shortfall of energy needs of Pakistan and not our full demand. Pakistan has to do what it deems fit and what is in its national interest. Lack of economic growth has also seen peace stalled in the region,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told ‘The News’.

President Asif Ali Zardari is also credited widely for improving bilateral relations with Iran, investing in the region, and desperately seeking energy from a country facing severe sanctions from the West because of its nuclear policy under the guidelines of the IAEA.

Continue reading Pakistan to do what it deems fit, says Khar

AFGHANISTAN: TEN YEARS OF AIMLESS WAR

by Eric S. Margolis

NEW YORK – October 08, 2011 – Operation Enduring Freedom – the dreadfully misnamed ten-year US occupation of Afghanistan – has turned into Operation Enduring Misery.

The renowned military strategist, Maj. Gen. J.F.C Fuller, defined war’s true objective as achieving desired political results, not killing enemies.

But this is just what the US has been doing in Afghanistan. After ten years of war costing at least $450 billion, 1,600 dead and 15,000 seriously wounded soldiers, the US has achieved none of its strategic or political goals.

Each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum. CIA employs 80,000 mercenaries there, cost unknown. The US spends a staggering $20.2 billion alone annually air conditioning troop quarters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most damning assessment comes from the US-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai: America’s war has been “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

Washington’s goal was a favorable political settlement producing a pacified Afghan state run by a regime totally responsive to US political, economic and strategic interests; a native sepoy army led by white officers; and US bases that threaten Iran, watch China, and control the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

All the claims made about fighting “terrorism and al-Qaida,” liberating Afghan women and bringing democracy are pro-war window dressing. CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 25-50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. Why are there 150,000 US and NATO troops there?

Washington’s real objective was clearly defined in 2007 by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher: to “stabilize Afghanistan so it can become a conduit and hub between South and Central Asia – so energy can flow south.”

The Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan TAPI gas pipeline that the US has sought since 1998 is finally nearing completion. But whether it can operate in the face of sabotage remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Washington has been unable to create a stable government in Kabul. The primary reason: ethnic politics. Over half the population is Pashtun (or Pathan), from whose ranks come Taliban. Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities fiercely oppose the Pashtun. All three collaborated with the Soviet occupation from 1979-1989; today they collaborate with the US and NATO occupation.

Most of the Afghan army and police, on which the US spends $6 billion annually, are Tajiks and Uzbek, many members of the old Afghan Communist Party. To Pashtun, they are bitter enemies. In Afghanistan, the US has built its political house on ethnic quicksands.

Worse, US-run Afghanistan now produces 93% of the world’s most dangerous narcotic, heroin. Under Taliban, drug production virtually ended, according to the UN. Today, the Afghan drug business is booming. The US tries to blame Taliban; but the real culprits are high government officials in Kabul and US-backed warlords.

A senior UN drug official recently asserted that Afghan heroin killed 10,000 people in NATO countries last year. And this does not include Russia, a primary destination for Afghan heroin.

So the United States is now the proud owner of the world’s leading narco-state and deeply involved with the Afghan Tajik drug mafia.

The US is bleeding billions in Afghanistan. Forty-four cents of every dollar spent by Washington is borrowed from China and Japan. While the US has wasted $1.283 trillion on the so-called “war on terror,” China has been busy buying up resources and making new friends and markets. The ghost of Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

The US can’t afford this endless war against the fierce Pashtun people, renowned for making Afghanistan “the Graveyard of Empires.” But the imperial establishment in Washington wants to hold on to strategic Afghanistan, particularly the ex-Soviet air bases at Bagram and Kandahar. The US is building its biggest embassy in the world in Kabul, an $800 million fortress with 1,000 personnel, protected by a small army of mercenary gunmen. So much for withdrawal plans. …

Read more » ericmargolis.com

US options in the Kyrgyzstan crisis – By Zeenia Satti

Courtesy: The News

The April revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Kyrgyzstan is the last nail in the coffin of the United States’ plans to use the Afghan Northern Alliance as the stepping stone to Central Asia’s energy-rich states of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and, ultimately, to Azerbaijan on the other side of the Caspian.

Continue reading US options in the Kyrgyzstan crisis – By Zeenia Satti