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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pepe Escobar on the new Mayor of Kabul,

While all this funky charade goes on, virtually nobody - apart from Canadian energy economist John Foster, in an op-ed published by The Star newspaper - is talking about the (real) Afghan pipe dream. Once again, since the late 1990s, it all comes back to TAPI - the Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/Pakistan/India gas pipeline, the key reason Afghanistan (as an energy transit corridor) is of any strategic importance to the US, apart from being deployed as an aircraft carrier stationed right at the borders of geopolitical competitors China and Russia. TAPI, financed by the Asian Development Bank, should in theory start to be built in 2010.

Both Russia and Iran, accomplished chess masters, are honing their moves to make TAPI unworkable. Until then, the AfPak theater basically boils down to the US and NATO at war against nationalist Pashtuns. Washington hysteria will continue to rule - as in "the Taliban" about to take over Islamabad's nukes and convert the US into TalibanUStan. And last but not least, please save the last bowl of opium for that oh-so-savvy wild bunch - the warlords. The Afghan pipe dreamBy Pepe Escobar

If Afghan President Hamid Karzai secures a clear-cut victory in the first round on Thursday, he will bring into power a coalition that the United States will find extremely hard to control. As such, regional capitals are concerned the US might now engineer a post-election "Iran-like situation" to muddy the waters and install a surrogate power structure in Kabul. Powers line up to stir Afghanistan's pot

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, currently visiting Syria, has signed accords that will increase economic and cultural ties between the countries. Far more important is Maliki's realization that he needs the clout that Damascus has among all the players in Iraq if he is to resolve escalating problems relating to the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and the Sunni community.
Maliki sees the light in Damascus

More than 800 volunteers busy creating the letters for woollen verse to be unveiled in October to mark Poetry Society centenary. When the former national poet of Wales Gwyneth Lewis wrote How to Knit a Poem, she probably wasn't expecting that two years later, knitters around the world would be taking her at her word. But more than 800 knitting enthusiasts are currently involved in knitting and crocheting individual letters to create the world's first giant knitted poem as part of the centenary celebrations for the Poetry Society, with the as-yet secret poem set to be unveiled at the beginning of October. Poetry Society director Judith Palmer said she had been inundated by knitters keen to get involved. "It hasn't been a matter of trying to persuade people to join in – we're just trying to manage the huge number who are calling up all the time," she said. "It's just spread and spread: there must be 90 knitting blogs writing about it around the world." Giant knitted poem takes shape By Alison Flood on Books

In its haste to lay plans for its departure from Iraq, the United States promised everyone everything. This leaves Washington with two choices. Leave a residual force of about 20,000 troops to guarantee Sunni and Kurdish interests, or allow the country to become a cockpit for competition among neighboring countries. Washington ponders its endgame

Turkey's role as an expanding nexus of energy pipelines between East and West disguises its own at times critical shortages of fuel. The emir of Qatar's visit to Istanbul may have nudged the two countries closer towards a possible agreement that would see Qatar's gas meeting some of those needs. Turkey inches towards Qatar LNG deal


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