Saturday, 9 January 2016

Warnings against plots by DAESH to exploit Afghanistan’s natural resources

Daesh eying Afghanistan's natural resources: Minister
Afghans see fresh opportunity to rebuild their economy but militants see a new source to fund their campaign

By Zabihullah Tamanna


Afghanistan's largely untapped natural resources have long been considered by some to be vital to rebuilding the country's conflict-affected economy.
However, this week the country’s Minister of Mines and Petroleum Dawoud Shah Saba warned there are serious barriers to exploiting them.
He told the Wolesi Jirga, parliament's lower house, that the country's persisting security problems stopped the government from exploiting the resources, which are currently mostly unprofessionally extracted and smuggled.
He also said that fighters claiming loyalty to Daesh, the militant group in control of parts of Syria and Iraq, wanted to take control of Afghanistan's resources.
“Daesh in Afghanistan is in the quest to control areas where natural resources are abundant. The terror group wants to extract the mines and finance their operations,” Saba said Monday.
The group has gradually established a presence in parts of Afghanistan, largely with former commanders from the Taliban, which it now directly competes and clashes with.
With the Taliban losing popularity and power, some Afghan analysts believe that Daesh believe mineral resources could be used to fund their attempts to make inroads in Afghanistan.
“Natural resources could be a significant financial resource for Daesh, to fuel their fights, as it was in Syria and Iraq,” said Kabul University economics professor Taj Muhammad Akbar, referring to the militant group's strategy of taking control of oil fields to fund their war.
He warned that it could also have a negative impact on Afghanistan's wider economy because of the revenues that would be lost if Daesh took control of mines.
There are an estimated $3 trillion worth of oil, gas, lithium and precious stones in several parts of Afghanistan, around a third of them untapped according to a U.S. government survey and with the potential to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy by making the country a major industrial mining center.
Afghan military expert Jawed Kohistani told Anadolu Agency that Daesh still does not have an official presence in Afghanistan but that groups of foreign fighters were fighting under the group's flag.
“They are mostly Uzbeks present in the Afghan provinces of Kunduz, Badakhshan, Sari Pul, Zabul and Uruzgan that are occasionally in competition with the Taliban and may take more power over the course of time,” said Kohistani.
“The Daesh group has control of oil wells in Iraq and Syria. Here the group also tries to get control of economic resources in order to fuel their wars in Afghanistan.”
He said not just Daesh but also the Taliban and other powerful local armed groups -- some of whom have leaders in both provincial and national government positions -- are competing for control of natural resources. He claimed that they also often work together with lawmakers.
“They are seeking to earn independent financial resources in the country, particularly in northern provinces, to feed themselves in cooperation with unofficial figures working in mines,” Kohistani said.

ISIL eyes natural resources in Afghanistan: Report
Afghan officials have warned that the ISIL Takfiri terrorists are trying to gain control over Afghanistan’s natural resources in a bid to entrench their terror campaign in the country

According to the Afghan minister of mines and petroleum, the government in Kabul is facing serious obstacles in exploiting natural resources across the country, citing ISIL militants’ bid to seize control of them as the most notable challenge, the Turkish media outlet, Anadolu Agency, reported on June 13.
“Daesh (ISIL) in Afghanistan is in the quest to control areas where natural resources are abundant. The terror group wants to extract the mines and finance their operations,” said Dawoud Shah Saba.
He added that ISIL Takfiris, who currently control parts of Syria and Iraq, have created major security issues for the Afghan government that impede the exploitation of the rich resources in the country.
Having a very limited presence in Afghanistan, ISIL is reportedly trying to lure commanders of the Taliban militants and other armed groups across Afghanistan to defect and join its ranks, in a bid to make inroads into the country.
Realizing that goal could be facilitated if the group becomes capable of extracting and smuggling Afghanistan’s natural resources, a strategy used by ISIL in Iraq and Syria to fund its operations.
Estimates provided by the United States government says around a third of Afghanistan’s huge natural resources is untapped. The USD-three-trillion assets include oil, gas, lithium and precious stones in several parts of the country.

Afghan Mining Sector Could Fall Victim To Daesh

Monday, 29 June 2015 16:09

Written by Kathy Whitehead

A recent Pentagon report stated that the emergence of Daesh in Afghanistan is of concern to the U.S., the coalition, Afghanistan, and other regional governments, as well as to extremist groups that have been operating in the region for some time.
The report stated that Daesh looks set to try to expand its presence in Afghanistan during the upcoming year. "It will compete for relevance
with the Taliban and other extant terrorist and insurgent groups," read the report.
It stated however that Daesh's activities in Afghanistan remain exploratory, with limited recruiting efforts but that although the capabilities of the Islamic State's recently claimed Khorasan Province may be limited, the group is clearly attempting to gain a foothold in Afghanistan.
A recent report in The Diplomat points out however that there is speculation that the Afghan government is exaggerating the Daesh threat to draw increased foreign aid, but the group's presence is undeniable, and the worsening security situation could pave the way for the group to enhance its operations
The Diplomat reported that Daesh's motives in Afghanistan remain ambiguous, and it is unclear if the group is capable of holding swaths of territory while battling Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban. However, it is entirely possible that Daesh will seek to tap the country's poorly monitored mining industry to fund their primary operations in Iraq and Syria, read The Diplomat's report.
Afghanistan sits atop an estimated $3 trillion USD worth of mineral resources, ranging from copper and emeralds to rare earth metals. The majority of the country's deposits are undeveloped, abandoned awaiting new contracts, or mined by local community members.
On June 8, Minister of Mines and Petroleum Daud Shah Saba told Afghan Members of Parliament that Daesh poses a "grave threat" to Afghanistan's burgeoning mining sector. Saba stated that security challenges continue to prevent the government from monitoring 100 of 339 mining contracts. Meanwhile, international investors have backed out of several contracts or raised concerns over insecurity. Endemic corruption and a lack of coordination between various ministries and the Afghan National Security Forces continue to leave Afghanistan's mines open to illegal activity, reported The Diplomat.
Insecurity in remote provinces, particularly Nangarhar, has already caused a significant spike in illegal mining in recent months. Officials in Nangarhar said in January that they fear all of the province's mines will be looted if the insecurity persists. This year's Taliban spring offensive is the most potent since 2011, and Daesh activity is seemingly highest in Nangarhar. As such, the situation in Nangarhar will likely continue to deteriorate in the next several months, read the article.
While it is unlikely that Daesh will seize control of large government and corporate mines, as they did with oil fields in Iraq and Syria, illegal community-mined mineral deposits are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Daesh has a noted proclivity for tapping into local resource markets not typically exploited by terrorist organizations. For instance, Daesh seized control of the Akashat Phosphate Mine in Iraq's Al-Anbar province and cement plants in Iraq and Syria.
The illicit trade of gems such as emeralds and rubies or industrial minerals such as copper and chromite is big business with decades-old smuggling routes from all corners of Afghanistan, read The Diplomat.
According to a report released in April by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, illegal mining has cost Afghanistan at least $300 million annually since the fall of the Taliban regime. Historically, Pakistan has been the largest recipient of illegally mined Afghan minerals. Pakistan has no real incentive to stymie the illicit trade of minerals such as chromite, as it ultimately benefits the country's construction and manufacturing industries.
The so-called Khorasan Province's leadership is predominantly comprised of former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan members such as Hafez Saeed Khan and Hafiz Dolat Khan. As such, they have longstanding ties to militants and smugglers on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line, which would allow them to transfer illicit minerals across the porous border to vital shipping outlets, read the article.
Although there is no clear evidence to indicate that Daesh has begun exploiting the country's lucrative mining industry, conditions are becoming more favorable as the security landscape continues to deteriorate.
Illegal mining has long been a source of income for militant groups across the country. Given Daesh's propensity for exploiting natural resources and their expanding presence, it is easy to conceive that Afghanistan may be the next frontier for funding their operations elsewhere. With no clear strategy in place, it is unlikely that Afghanistan could prevent such financing activities in its more remote provinces. Either way, Afghanistan's mining industry and economy will suffer with any expansion of Daesh operations, reported The Diplomat.

Daesh Militants Get to Seizure of AfghanistanMedia © REUTERS/ Stringer
00:06 06.12.2015 (updated 03:54 06.12.2015)

Islamists have taken control of territories in eastern Afghanistan, acting under the strategy they used in Iraq and Syria, UK media reported. Afghani authorities noted at the same time that the militants get major financial backing and could soon emerge as a serious threat.
Terrorists from Daesh group, also known as ISIL/the Islamic state, have seized a row of territories in eastern Afghanistan, The Times reported.
About 1,600 people who have sworn allegiance to Daesh have brought under control large parts of four provinces situated to the south of Jalalabad. As the Times correspondent noted, Daesh is acting in the country under the strategies they tested in Iraq and Syria: imperceptible infiltration of the militants in the region followed by the seizure of the area.
According to media reports, terrorists acting with extreme brutality, including the use of torture and executions, forced thousands of local residents to abandon their houses and flee for safety. The attempts of Afghanistan’s army to restrain the militants are complicated by significant casualties among servicemen with up to 500 deaths each month.
The advancement of the militant group is usually referred to the split within the Taliban movement and withdrawal of the western forces from Afghanistan. It couldn’t be ruled out that former Taliban members, who joined Daesh, are in charge of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mansour, Daily Mail reported.
“ISIL [Dasesh] in Afghanistan are the flag of convenience for disaffected Taliban, Pakistani Taliban, and an assortment of Chechen and Uzbek fighters,” a senior diplomat in Kabul told The Times. “ISIL here has money, more money than the Taliban for reasons we do not quite understand.”
A US Department of Defense spokesperson told the Times that the Pentagon is well informed about the presence of militants affiliated with Daesh in Afghanistan.
“[W]e are monitoring closely to see whether their emergence will have a meaningful impact on the threat environment in the region,” the spokesperson said.

Afghanistan’s Natural Resources under the sight of Islamic State
By admin 30/06/2015

Pentagon in a new report says that Islamic State group is eyeing on the Natural Resources of Afghanistan.
Citing the Pentagon report, The Diplomat an online international news magazine that also writes analysis says that even though it is unknown if Islamic State would be able to hold swaths of land in Afghanistan but it is obviously possible that the group will seek to beat the country’s poorly monitored mining industry to fund their operations in Iraq and Syria.
The Diplomat further states that the majorities of the estimated $3 trillion worth of mineral resources of Afghanistan are undeveloped, abandoned, awaiting new contracts or excavated by local community members (Especially warlords).
According to the Diplomat the Islamic State is attempting to gain a toehold in Afghanistan and the worsening security situation could pave way for the group to enhance operations.
The Diplomat further states that due to the widespread corruption and lack of coordination between various Afghan ministries and security agencies Afghanistan’s Natural Resources remain open to illegal extractions.
It also states that the ongoing fighting has caused a significant rise in illegal extraction of mines and that several international investors have stepped back from contracts or expressed concern over the insecurity, which is a major blow to the mining industry in the country.
The Diplomat citing a report issued by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in April says that illegal extraction of mines cost Afghanistan at least $300 million annually since the fall of Taliban in 2001.
The Diplomat further states most of Afghanistan’s illegally extracted mines are going to Pakistan, adding that the leadership of Daesh’s Khorasaan province is predominantly comprised of former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders which makes the smuggle of Afghanistan’s illegally extracted mines to Pakistan easy.
Islamic State of Daesh was operating in Iraq and Syria for years but it emerged in Afghanistan months before. KP