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Last Updated:[15-06-2010 06:59:10 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Afghan Serendipity Exposes US Interests in Business of War

tradenews It was always a mystery why most military powers constantly attempted to occupy often portrayed derelict Afghanistan, but with the latest discovery of the country being seated over more than $1tn precious mineral deposits lays it to rest instantly. According to The New York Times, the vast scale of Afghanistan's mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.

Interestingly, an internal Pentagon memo, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and mobile phones. It also reports that the country is home to previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, besides lithium.

The memo compels to probe, what is Pentagon’s task in Afghanistan? Is it mining, peace-keeping or capturing the elusive terrorists? The timing of the announcement also induces the misgivings on the veracity of the study as well as the US interest in the country. Is the US trying to stay longer in Afghanistan on this pretext to thwart the increasing presence of the regional powers, China and India, by providing business options to the county?

In November, a 30-year lease, to start mining copper in the Aynak valley, southwest of Kabul, which holds one of the world’s biggest untapped copper deposits, was sold to the China Metallurgical Group for $3bn, making it the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan’s history. Likewise, post-Taliban, India is also heavily involved in the re-construction and development of Afghanistan’s infrastructure.

The retrospective chronicling of the events on the recent discovery compel to call for more queries. Why Russia did not show much interest in Afghanistan despite having the cognizance of country’s rare mineral wealth?

According to the study, while leaving Afghanistan in 1989 after nearly a decade-old occupation the Soviets left behind a horde of old charts and data hinting on the massive mineral deposits in the country. Incidentally, it says, it was with these data, the US Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources in 2006.

Consequently, it establishes a fact that the US entered Afghanistan with prior knowledge of potential mineral wealth in the country. If there is truth in the find, then the Afghanistan’s new found fortune fuels the perception that any ‘offensive’ war includes an exploration agenda for natural resources or knowledge treasure trove behind it whenever any country initiates a war in a foreign land, especially a far-off one.

By Jose Roy

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