Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A possible deal between Kabul and Washington on Afghanistan's mines cannot protect Afghan interests and would only benefit the U.S.

The delay in the announcement of the new Afghan policy of Trump-led US administration has fueled various assumptions about the future of Afghan-American relations. Although Trump was against the continuation of Afghan war before becoming the US president, his mind seems to have changed since then. While the Washington has not yet officially declared its Afghan policy, there have been reports that Trump is eyeing for the massive and untouched wealth of mineral resources of Afghanistan. According to reports of western media, the one trillion dollars worth natural deposits of Afghanistan have grabbed the attention of the White House, and Trump has been trying to prevent China from securing the mineral riches. Even though analysts view investment in Afghanistan’s mines as a need, they cast doubts on any possible deal with the United States about the country’s national wealth, believing that such deal cannot protect the interests of Afghanistan given the current US-Afghan ties. Sayed Akram Afzali, the Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), says the US and UK sometimes exert pressure on Afghan government to award mine extraction contracts based on their agreement and terms. As an example, Afzali mentioned the contracts of copper mines of Balkhab and Herat, gold mines of Badakhshan and Zarkashan in which the US and UK have exerted pressure on Afghan government. According to Afzali, the climate in Afghanistan was not conducive for mine extraction; however, many countries, including the US, have been trying to secure a share in Afghanistan's mineral resources. Sayed Akram Afzali also said key issues related to the country’s mining industry have been ignored while they should be prioritized by the government. Intizar Khadem, a political expert, believed the United States wanted to provide its spending on Afghan war from Afghanistan under the pretext of investment on Afghan mines. "The US president is known for making money, and he is a businessman. If he gets involved in wars, he tries to pay the expenses from the money earned from same place," Khadem added. Without doubt, the 300 various types of natural resources of Afghanistan weere very important for a president like Trump; however, the strategies employed by Americans could not meet the conditions of investment on mines, Khadem stated, adding that if Washington intended to invest in Afghan mining industry, Kabul should specify its share, and not give a free hand to Americans as in other political deals. The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), however, said it would welcome the US or any other country wishing to invest in Afghan mines providing that such investment was based on the terms of Afghanistan.