Nov 27, 2010

A Dark Anniversary

U.S. Now In Afghanistan Longer than the Soviets

The last Red Army troops left in 1989, driven out after nine years and 50 days by U.S.-backed fighters known as mujahedin. Despite contrasts, the U.S. and Soviet wars have common narrative elements.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Moscow — As wartime days go, Friday was a fairly quiet one in Afghanistan. Helicopters skittered across the sky; convoys rumbled along desert roads; soldiers in mountain outposts scanned the jagged peaks around them.

But one thing set the day apart: With its passing, the U.S. military's campaign in Afghanistan matched the Soviet Union's long and demoralizing sojourn in the nation.

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In a completely unrelated note...

Afghanistan discovered an oilfield containing an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude in the north of the country, a Mines Ministry official said.

If proven, the resource would be more than 10 times the size of the country’s oil reserves, assessed at more than 150 million barrels by the U.S. Geological Survey. By comparison, Saudi Arabia had proven reserves of 264.6 billion barrels at the end of 2009, according to BP Plc data

“A huge oil resource, which looks like a triangle, with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil, has been discovered by Afghan geologists in cooperation with international geologists between Balkh and Sheberghan provinces,” Jawad Omar, a spokesman for the ministry, said.

The field is a new discovery and was not among those found by Russian exploration companies, Omar said. Further research will be carried out in the next six months and the field will be tendered once all investigations are completed.

The U.S., which has spent $27 billion since 2002 training Afghan forces, is promoting development of Afghan resources in an attempt to stabilize President Hamid Karzai’s government, U.S. Deputy Under-Secretary of State Paul Brinkley said earlier this year. Back in August U.S. President Barack Obama and Karzai discussed the need to jointly keep the pressure on the Taliban and to build Afghan capacity.

The country itself lacks local knowledge to get the oil itself, according to Sayed Masood, an economics professor at the University of Kabul .

“Lack of capacity, lack of capital, lack of skilled people means that Afghanistan cannot extract the reserves itself."

If only there was a country that had the military and the capacity to extract that oil and buy it to fuel their infrastructure?

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