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NATO prospecting for Afghanistan’s mineral riches

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Visiting Washington on 13 May 2010, Afghan President Hamid Karzai alluded to his country’s staggering mineral resources, estimated to be worth between 1 and 3 trillion dollars, which would make Afghanistan one of the richest countries in the world.

For a long time, geologists have been convinced about the existence of Afghanistan’s mineral-rich subsoil, exploited in the past for its precious stones. Since the beginning of the Anglo-American invasion, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the British Government have been sending engineers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the British Geological Survey. Current financial estimates are based on their 2007 reports. They certify the existence of gigantic quantities of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, lithium, etc..

It was equally on the basis of these reports that both the Bush Administration, towards the end of its mandate, and the Obama Administration made their decision to escalate the U.S. and NATO military effort in Afghanistan.

On 22 May 2010, German President Horst Köhler, just back from Afghanistan, explained his country’s and NATO’s military engagement in Afghanistan not in terms of the September 11 attacks, nor of promoting democracy, but with a view to defending economic interests. His declaration provoked a public outcry insofar as the deployment of an expeditionary force for economic conquest is banned by the German constitution. Rather than pulling out the German contingent, President Horst Köhler preferred to hand in his resignation, on 31 May 2010.

In an article published on 13 June 2010, the New York Times spilled the beans. It incidentally disclosed that the Pentagon was having a value estimate made of the Afghan mineral trove.

In 2006, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created a Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. Under the supervision of Deputy Under-Secretary Paul A. Brinkley, it started by overseeing the exploitation of Irak before turning its attention to Afghanistan. Mr. Brinkley’s services were retained by Defense Secretary Robert Gates under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

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- « U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan », by James Risen, The New York Times, 13 June 2010.
- US Geological Survey website dedicated to the exploration of Afghan mineral resources.
- British Geological Survey website dedicated to the exploration of Afghan mineral resources.

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