***PRESS RELEASE***Rep. Rohrabacher Blasts Pentagon's Endorsement of Afghan/China Oil Deal w/Convicted Karzai Clan Drug Smugglers
Washington, Oct 31 - Today, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressing outrage over the Pentagon’s endorsement of a deal between a Karzai related firm and a Chinese state owned oil company.
The owners of Watan Oil and Gas Afghanistan Limited, which has formed a partnership with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop the Amu Darya Basin oil field, are convicted drug smugglers. Rateb Popal and his brother Rashid Popal are Afghan nationals who were tried in the United States and sentenced for attempting to bring heroin into the U.S. from Afghanistan. Rateb Popal was also a spokesman for the Taliban in Pakistan and had conducted business with China for them. The Popal brothers are reported to be cousins of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The CNPC-Watan oil development deal was already controversial because it marked a further Chinese penetration of the Afghan economy and society. In 2007, China gained access to copper mines in Aynak in a $3 billion deal that was criticized by Canadian and American rivals for corrupt bidding. The Aynak is considered to have the second largest copper deposits in the world. The Amu Darya Basin is estimated to contain 962 million barrels of crude oil and 52 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
“It is our duty to ensure that the more than 2,000 brave American soldiers (and many thousands more wounded) were not sacrificed for the benefit of the Beijing regime and a small clique of Karzai-related wheeler dealers,” wrote Rohrabacher in his October 31st letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Rep. Rohrabacher is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.