By Joao Peixe
It is estimated that Afghanistan contains reserves of natural resources, such as oil, gold, iron ore, copper, lithium, etc., which could be worth trillions of dollars, and offers hope for the future to many of the country’s poor villages which are situated near the resource deposits. The problem is that officials and industry experts are worried that the potential wealth to be made from the resources, has increased the level of corruption, violence, and intrigue in the country.
With the impending departure of NATO forces in 2014, security in Afghanistan is a major concern, and it is now feared that its mineral wealth could trigger a civil war. Powerful regional warlords are already trying to aggressively expand their territories to include areas with mineral wealth, and the Taliban has started making murderous attacks in areas where resource development is planned.
Western officials suspect the motives behind the rejection of a proposed mining law which was intended to attract foreign investment. The reason given was that it was too generous to Western interests, but some believe that the real reason was to keep foreign companies out.
In Bamian, a poor province rich in natural resources, 12 new security huts have been built across the hillside, a possible sign of the intent to start mining operations there, and also of the expected violence to come as a result.
Mohammad Amin, the chief geologist in the region of Bamian, admitted that “if the Taliban are able to make it to this part of the country, this project will be halted and nobody will be able to work.” Unfortunately things are not looking good. The road from Kabul to Bamian is no longer safe for foreigners, and government officials and security forces travelling the region have been subject to a string of attacks.