Afghan Riches At Last, Poor Afghans.

Up until now Afghanistan was a place no one really wanted to be in, but for the company it keeps. Its neighborhood is what lured powers. British Empire saw it as a gateway to Central Asia, and to China along the ancient silk route. Additionally, ‘Tsarist Russia has eyes for warm water ports in the Indian Ocean and on the jewel in British Empire’s crown’ was how the British reckoned the threat; and both powers played out what is called a great game in this theatre to have it at least under its influence if not control. British, under General Burrows, were soundly routed in 1880 by a tribal chief Ayub Khan at Maiwand – a big disaster for them. The 1919 third Afghan war, though British nominally won it, couldn’t subdue the motley tribes & their perplexing fluid alliances. Soviet Union led by Leonid Brezhnev occupied Afghanistan in late 1979 in what proved to be its last war as the Union itself crumbled soon after. That occupation ended in 1989. USA in collusion with Islamist Dictator of Pakistan – Zia Ul Haq – played a pivotal role in arming a highly motivated, doctrinaire religious force of Afghans – the Taliban – who caused the downfall of the Soviets leading to its eventual demise. Post 9/11 the USA chose to attack Afghanistan in what it probably envisaged to be a swift and decisive victory but has bogged it down ever since. Bush administration wanted to influence and control the Central Asian Republics that hold massive gas reserves and desired a look out from the East on Iran and Middle East that are flush with oil. Taliban is proving to be Frankenstein’s Monster for US administration. It is caught soundly in the quagmire of its own creation throughout this decade but at untold misery & great ruin to Afghan people.

Afghanistan, which was till now known for its poppy cultivation, fierce tribalism and uncompromising jihad, has unexpectedly thrown up under the prying eyes of the Department of Defense (DOD) of USA rich mineral riches under its rugged lands.

The NYT report states, “The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe… Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni Province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves”.

(New York Times)
The Obama administration has been desperate for some good news in an otherwise bleak season with BP Oil Well still leaking (it would soon become the biggest environmental disaster according to the Economist) and North Korea or Iran not acquiescing to US arm-twisting. Some businesswise cheerful news emerging out of Afghanistan, where the US war he has now claimed as his own, is useful for his standing.

(The Economists)

US War machine is warming up to the business possibilities, “The Pentagon task force has already started trying to help the Afghans set up a system to deal with mineral development. International accounting firms that have expertise in mining contracts have been hired to consult with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, and technical data is being prepared to turn over to multinational mining companies and other potential foreign investors”.

Has Afghanistan finally yielded enough justification for USA to stay on there for its own sake? Will this spell to be the final temptation for US administration or utter perdition for Afghans?



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