While presenting his much-awaited Afghanistan policy last week, US President Donald Trump said he decided against a complete withdrawal of US forces from the war-torn country purely on his “instinct.” The main reason he cited for an indefinite US presence in Afghanistan was, of course, to defeat Islamist terrorists in the country, where the US has been engaged in a bloody war for 16 years. But experts say there is more to his decision than meets the eye.
According to The New York Times, Trump, who was not in favor of sending more American soldiers to Afghanistan, discussed Afghanistan’s mineral deposits with President Ashraf Ghani, who “promoted mining as an economic opportunity in one of their first conversations.”
“… this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country,” the newspaper reported last month.
“Last week [in July], as the White House fell into an increasingly fractious debate over Afghanistan policy, three of Mr. Trump’s senior aides met with a chemical executive, Michael N. Silver, to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals. Mr. Silver’s firm, American Elements, specializes in these minerals, which are used in a range of high-tech products,” The New York Times said.
Obviously, the extraction of Afghanistan’s untapped minerals would benefit Afghanistan also. And Trump could use this economic opportunity to compensate for a costly war for his country.
Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. The landlocked country has huge reserves of copper, iron, chromite, mercury, zinc, precious gems as well as gold and silver, and, most importantly, lithium and rare earth elements that are used in batteries.
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