The article is titled "Doubt Cast on Afghan Mining: US Says High Cost of Railway May Quash a Pillar of Kabul's Economic Strategy" 10/4/2012 by D. Nissenbaum p. A20
[Excerpted] Afghanistan's hopes of transforming its $1 trillion in mineral deposits into an economic engine could be derailed by obstacles to the construction of a railway system needed to transport minerals out of the country...
...Backed by U.S. Defense Department strategists, the Afghan government has been aggressively selling off its biggest mining interests to companies from China, India, Canada and the U.S., from whom it hopes to collect licensing fees and royalties....
Majia here: The concept of a "resource curse" applies to Afghanistan. Rich in minerals, Afghanistan is a coveted pawn.
Extractive industries typically pay workers poor wages and leave the environment ruined. Consider the gold and platinum workers striking now in South Africa.
Extractive industries are not a path to economic sustainability and improved living standards unless the government is strong and capable of ensuring high environmental and labor standards. Yet, these standards make mining more expensive and therefore are precisely those that investing companies wish to avoid.
James previously posted an insightful comment to my post about Afghanistan: "If You Had Any Doubts About Why We're In Afghanistan" http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/if-you-had-any-doubts-about-why-us-is.html
There exists vast oil and gas deposits near the Caspian sea, with no easy way to transport it. An oil/gas pipeline has been proposed for many years across Afghanistan to Pakistan, India and the Arabian sea.
After the Russians were ousted from Afghanistan - largely by jihadists like OBL that were externally funded - then the project was open to other parties.
In 1995 the project was initiated as a consortium by the US and Saudis. The prime contractor was - you guessed it - Halliburton corp!!!! Actual construction work began in 1997.
In 1998, however the Taliban and OBL decided that their financial stake in the project had gotten too small, so they threw out the foreign corporations, and stopped the construction.
Is this starting to sound fishy yet? In October 2001, just a few weeks after the Sept 11 bombings, the US invaded Afghanistan, threw out the Taliban, and immediately initiated plans to restart the pipeline construction.
However, due to almost continuous insurgent activity (externally funded - coincidence? i don't think so - more like paybacks) and strong negotiations around revenue sharing, construction has met many delays and just now in 2012 all the agreements are reached.
In the meantime, the Iranians have announced their own pipeline project which is a shorter distance and can be completed more quickly, and they quickly signed a deal with Pakistan and India.
The US and Saudi Arabia has put considerable pressure on Pakistan to abandon the Iranian pipeline project, and support theirs through Afghanistan.
Without success in getting Pakistan to reject the Iranian deal, the US started putting pressure directly on Iran to abandon the project. And that pressure has led to the threat of war, however the American public has been adamant that no more wars will be waged, so the CIA has been deployed to try and create civil unrest and overthrow the Iranian government, and also has been accused of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists.
And you thought: 1. The Afghanistan war was about terrorism? 2. The Iranian threat of war is about nuclear power?
Wrong. As in most lies, there is some element of truth to both, but the real reason is the same as always - money and power over money.
When you start understanding this, then the whole "nuclear agenda" is not so far-fetched. The question is how people can be so ruthless.
It's a strange world we live in...