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15 Jun, 2010 12:59

Afghan ore a political goldmine

The US has recently announced the discovery of nearly $1 trillion worth of mineral deposits in Afghanistan, but did the US know about them in 2007?

A 2007 United States geological survey indicated that Afghanistan is one of the worlds' biggest depositories of minerals and precious metals. These include iron, copper, gold, and others. In fact, Afghanistan may be the "Saudi Arabia of lithium,” reported the New York Times.

Did the 2007 USGS report effect US President Barack Obama decision to expand the war in Afghanistan, asked Paul Jay, the CEO and editor of The Real News Network.

There’s enough information to have what one could call an informed speculation,” said Jay.

The report from 2007 however is solid evidence that there are vast amounts of resources in Afghanistan and that both the US, Afghanistan the world’s major powers were aware.

When President Obama was making his decision, if this had been public, people would have said, is this another grab for oil as the war in Iraq was?,” said Jay.

Jay argues the reason these details are coming to light now is because the situation in Afghanistan is worsening and the withdraw date set by Obama is approaching; the finding of vast minerals gives the government a new rational to stay.

There is going to be a presence of American troops there for a long time,” said Jay.

The story was broke by the New York Times, with direct quotes from General Petraeus and access to an internal pentagon memo no one else had access to.

Clearly the pentagon feeds stories to various papers and journalists all the time and sometimes they’re real stories and sometimes it’s something the Pentagon wants reported at a certain time,” said Jay.

The Soviet Union conducted early surveys in the 1980s and 1990s of the region, and it is highly likely much for the world knew of the high concentration of resources in Afghanistan and yet remained quite on the matter, argued Jay. 

Investigative journalist Webster Tarpley believes the story is nothing new and the report is politically motivated.

“The discoveries – if there were some – were made by the Soviets during the 1980s. There was a World Bank report from 2004 that has all of this stuff. At the time of Karzai coming to Washington and meeting with Hillary Clinton there was a bunch of talks about the mineral wealth of Afghanistan. So it is a very important thing, but not new. The question is, what are we dealing with here? This is a planted story. Who is the only US top official mentioned in the article? It is General David Petraeus, the commander of the Central Command. People in Washington know that he is an active candidate for president. He has been groomed by the Republican Party. What he saying is ‘make me a President and we can exploit this wealth’,” Tarpley explained his point of view.

“The purpose of the planted story on the higher level is to organize a consensus to keep the war going. Basically to say to the interested groups in the US – the corporate world, the Wall Street, mineral mining companies – ‘We should stay!’ And it also makes very clear: if you don’t stay – the Chinese will get everything.”

Igor Khokhlov, a political expert from the Institute of World Economy and Public Relations, said that US invasion in Iraq and Afghanistan aims at political and economical control over China.

“We have seen that the previous Bush administration invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries which I consider to be the richest ones in the mineral resources, although I don’t think the United Sates needs the resources from Afghanistan, as well as they don’t need oil from Iraq,” Khokhlov stated. “I guess China is becoming a major global player and China is looking all over the world for resources for its economy, and China is buying resources in Africa, in Latin America, in Russian Far East and in Indo-China, and of course China is interested in the untapped mineral resources of Afghanistan. And I think the idea of [the] Obama administration is to control those two richest countries in the world – so they will be able to control [the] Chinese economy.”