Posted by: Lister | July 29, 2008

War With Iran

Thought to be unlikely at Doug’s Darkworld. One of the reasons he gives is:

Russian jets now stationed in Armenia, where they act as a deterrent to Turkey…and have been patrolling Iranian airspace at Iran’s request. And Sunday Iran and Russia are signing a comprehensive energy agreement that basically means that Iran will be supplying much of Europe’s natural gas via Russia. The Russians announced some time ago that they would consider an attack on Iran to be an attack on Russia, and they have apparently quietly put their money where their mouth is.

I’ve been unable to confirm the part about Russian jets patrolling Iranian airspace. But the gas deal isn’t unique. I think the sanctions against Iran have cost Western business.

Isolating Iran backfires:

The overall U.S. strategy of containing Iran has failed in principle. And the attempt to impose a sanctions regime on Iran has led to an erosion of U.S. strategic influence in Asia and the Middle East. Over the long term, Washington’s shortsighted containment policy will only hurt Western business in the region. It will also play into the hands of China, drive crucial allies away, and render Iran untouchable.

The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (IPI) is a $7.5 billion project designed to supply Indian mega-cities with natural gas from Iran’s Persian Gulf fields via a 1,700 miles long pipeline across Pakistan.

Forbes on that pipeline:

The $7.5 billion, 1,700-mile Peace Pipeline (IPI) project would bring gas from the South Pars Gas Fields through Balochistan (in Western Pakistan) into India. The project has stalled multiple times since first proposed in 1994 due to political tensions, changing governments, conflicts over prices, and most recently, the weight of American opposition.

The agreement comes amid growing tension between the United States and Iran, which the U.S. has sought to isolate from the world community. But rising fuel prices and a soaring Indian economy seem to have outweighed America’s desires–as well as a rival plan for a U.S.-backed pipeline from Turkmenistan.

[…] Behind the scenes, however, officials admit that the South Asian nations are simply ignoring American directives. Dr. Noor Jehan Panezai, MP, who represents the region in Western Pakistan where the pipeline will run, welcomes the plan as an employment package for her constituents. “Indians and Pakistanis,” she says, “will choose our own projects. We have decided that the United States has no business in our problems.”

Given the crucial role India and Pakistan play in American strategy, experts say it’s unlikely that Washington will punish its allies politically or financially for dealing with Iran. Until the deal is inked, however America may exert its best efforts behind the scenes. “The current administration,” says Pickering, “might try to impose conditions on India, and I’m sure they are trying to dissuade Pakistan.”

If the IPI deal wins out, then it will send an uplifting message about Indo-Pak collaboration, but also a sobering one about America’s international clout.

The FPIF site, linked earlier, states:

The United States has fought hard against the new pipeline linking Iran, India, and Pakistan. As recently as July 15, Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) threatened to strengthen the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 that allows for the litigation of foreign firms investing in sanctionable business in Iran – a clear warning signal to India.

Meanwhile, since the three countries could not bear the projected costs of $7.5 billion on their own, Washington has also used its considerable influence at the World Bank in the person of former president Paul Wolfowitz. He bluntly informed Pakistan that the bank would not allow any international institution to finance the project.

[…] Until Indian consent was secured, Pakistan used the Chinese wild card [deliver gas to China instead of India] as a bargaining tool to force a wavering India’s hand. But now it seems that Islamabad and Tehran can have it both ways. If World Bank financing is off the table, China can step in to foot the bill.

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