US oil and corruption in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan


This video from the USA from March 27, 2010, is called Kyrgyzstan Unveils New U.S. Military Base Plan.

From The Nation in the USA:

Fueling the Afghan War

By Aram Roston

This article appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of The Nation.

April 21, 2010

Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

In Napoleon Bonaparte’s day an army may have marched on its belly, as the French emperor famously quipped, but the modern-day American military campaign in Afghanistan needs not just food but also fuel. Diesel for the MRAPs and Humvees, aviation fuel for the planes and helicopters–that’s the fodder for the military surge under way in Afghanistan. Fuel is precious there–they call it liquid gold–and the effort to keep it flowing has created an array of bizarre monopolies, strange alliances and allegations of corruption entangling the US government.

This is the story of two interlinked and secretive offshore companies run by a former Army intelligence officer. The firms run a specialized monopoly of massive proportions. Their niche: supplying aviation fuel for US military operations in Afghanistan–enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools each and every day of the year.

The companies’ names are Red Star Enterprises and Mina Corp. In Afghanistan, Red Star Enterprises has a sole source contract worth more than $1 billion, won without competition, to deliver fuel to Bagram Air Base, that central hub of the war effort. The Nation has obtained an unusual “memorandum of agreement” between Red Star and the US military authorities, giving the firm exclusive ownership of a fuel pipeline that feeds directly into the base.

Similarly, in nearby Kyrgyzstan, a staging ground for the Afghan war, Mina has another sole source contract, awarded without any announcement, to provide fuel to a huge and controversial base. The contract has been at the center of corruption and kickback allegations, and the companies have been accused of enriching the families of two successive heads of state, both of whom presided over kleptocratic and repressive regimes–an arrangement that fostered great resentment in the country. Violence exploded on the streets in early April, leaving eighty protesters dead, and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was forced to flee.

The new, provisional government sees Red Star and Mina in a very specific light. The chief of staff, Edil Baisalov, tells The Nation that the firms have served as “an indirect way for the Pentagon to bribe the ruling families of Kyrgyzstan.” (These allegations are the subject of a Congressional hearing tomorrow, convened by the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs.)

Baisalov’s charge is a serious one but not new, nor as outlandish as it may seem, although the companies deny it. The eight-year saga of high-stakes contracts and secretive deals raises serious questions about how the Afghan campaign has been run, not only by the Bush administration but also under President Barack Obama. Sole source contracts have continued under the current administration, and if the Kyrgyz authorities are correct, the Pentagon contractors are still doing what they did under Bush. After all, the thirst for oil and fuel can only grow as President Obama’s Afghan surge ramps up.

The man in charge of Red Star’s and Mina’s operations is a good-natured retired Army lieutenant colonel named Chuck Squires, now 56 years old.

Russia, China, Iran defeat U.S. in the “pipeline wars”. While the West kills thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan and ravages both countries, Russia, China and Iran are acquiring the crucial energy riches of Central Asia and the Caspian area without firing a shot: here.

Around 100,000 minority Uzbeks fleeing a pogrom allegedly insitigated by supporters of Kyrgyzstan’s ousted premier have massed at the country’s border: here.

Kyrgyzstan’s security agency claimed on Thursday that relatives of toppled president Kurmanbek Bakiyev colluded with the Taliban and other armed Islamist groups to provoke the sectarian violence that has destabilised the former Soviet republic.

An oil company ultimately owned by Russian state firm Gazprom will soon start supplying a fifth of the jet fuel needed by a US air base in Kyrgyzstan: here.

Protesters clashed with police and tried to break into Kyrgyzstan’s parliament and government offices yesterday during a rally in the capital Bishek to demand the nationalisation of the Kumtor gold mine: here.

6 thoughts on “US oil and corruption in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan

  1. Ousted leader faces charges

    Kyrgyzstan: The ousted president has been charged with organising mass killings in the deadly uprising that forced him from office earlier this month, interim authorities have announced.

    Azimbek Beknazarov, a vice-premier of the opposition forces that now have provisional control of the country, said that Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is in exile in Belarus, would have his presidential immunity stripped to face the Kyrgyz charges, which also include abuse of power.


  2. More than 2,000 estimated dead

    Kyrgyzstan: Sectarian violence in the country has left an estimated 2,000 dead, the Russian Kommersant newspaper has reported.

    The Kyrgyz Health Ministry has put the death toll at 191, but observers say that the official figures are flawed because they don’t take into account local traditions which oblige people to immediately bury the dead.

    The UN estimates that 400,000 people have been displaced by the violence, which is widely believed to have been instigated by supporters of ousted former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.


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