Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Afghani Riches

Trump decided to keep US troops in Afghanistan for an indefinite period of time, which he had always previously been critical of. Supposedly, the reason for the about-turn was his "instinct" to defeat Islamist terrorists in the country, where the US has been engaged in a bloody war for 16 years. But experts say there is more to his decision than meets the eye.
According to The New York Times, Trump discussed Afghanistan's mineral deposits with President Ashraf Ghani, who "promoted mining as an economic opportunity in one of their first conversations." 
"We need to end the 14-year-long Afghan conflict so that our future generations can benefit from the treasures our country possesses," Ghani said, pointing out that Afghanistan's most disadvantaged regions are rich in natural resources and said his government would pay more attention to the mining sector.

"... this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country," the newspaper reported. "... three of Mr. Trump's senior aides met with a chemical executive, Michael N. Silver, to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals. Mr. Silver's firm, American Elements, specializes in these minerals, which are used in a range of high-tech products," The New York Times said.

Afghanistan's mineral wealth is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. The landlocked country has huge reserves of copper, iron, chromite, mercury, zinc, precious gems as well as gold and silver, and, most importantly, lithium and rare earth elements that are used in batteries. Afghanistan's mineral deposits attracted global interest in 2007 when a report by US Geological Survey declared the country a treasure trove. However, the idea of using Afghan minerals to lift the country out of poverty and war has remained a dream. The corruption-mired Afghan mining sector is the second-largest source of funding for the Taliban and one of the reasons behind violence in mineral-rich areas. According to a report by the United States Institute of Peace, a bulk of looted minerals is smuggled openly across the Afghan border through government checkpoints.

The Taliban, "Islamic State" (IS) jihadists, and alo the Afghan warlords want their share in the mineral wealth, too.
"We have tried to prevent armed groups from illegally mining our natural resources," said Mir Ahmad Jawid Sadat, deputy minister of mines and petroleum.

No comments: