A team of U.S. geologists and Pentagon officials have concluded that Afghanistan is sitting on untapped mineral deposits worth more than $1 trillion, officials said. The deposits of iron, copper, cobalt and critical industrial elements such as lithium are enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the war itself, the officials said.
Lithium is a key raw material for the manufacture of batteries for laptops and mobile phones, and the potential reserves of the metal are so huge that the country may well become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”, a Pentagon memo said.
If you still thought things hadn’t dramatically changed on the Afghan chessboard ever since U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to begin pulling out from mid-2011, you only need to look at President Hamid Karzai’s recent utterances, or more accurately the lack of it, on the Taliban and Pakistan, the other heavyweights on the stage.
For months Karzai has gone noticeably quiet on Pakistan, refusing to excoriate the neighbour for aiding the Taliban as he routinely did in the past, The Guardian quoted a source close to the country’s former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh as saying.
Reuters photographer Asmaa Waguih was embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. for two months. Here’s her account of a close shave with an IED blast.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that a large part of my time with U.S. Marines in Afghanistan would be marked out by the Marines’ order : “hurry up and wait”. I would wait for hours for flights to remote places, for a foot patrol to start but above all wait for action to happen so I could shoot live combat.
KABUL (Reuters) – Hundreds of Afghan tribal elders and notables were set to make a formal call for peace with the Taliban on Friday, the final day of a traditional assembly that they said was a last chance to end a nine-year war.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the “peace jirga” to win national support for a peace plan consisting of offering an amnesty, cash and job incentives to Taliban foot soldiers while arranging asylum for top figures in a second country.
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan tribal leaders and other notables agreed at a peace meeting on Thursday that an opening had to be made to Taliban insurgents because neither foreign forces nor the Afghan army had been able to ensure security, the deputy head of the conference said.
Qiyamuddin Kashaf said nearly 1,600 delegates gathered for a traditional jirga to discuss President Hamid Karzai’s peace proposals agreed that the jirga (gathering) was their last chance to bring peace.
KABUL, June 3 (Reuters) – Afghan tribal elders discssed
ways to reach out to the Taliban on Thursday, despite a rocket
and gunfire attack by the insurgents aimed at disrupting a
national conference seeking an end to nearly nine years of war.
President Hamid Karzai, who launched the traditional “loya
jirga” of tribal elders on Wednesday amid the noise of rockets
and gunfire, is hoping to get national support for his plans to
reach out to the the Taliban ahead of a gradual U.S. military
withdrawal from 2011.
KABUL (Reuters) – Two Western aid organisations have denied allegations they were engaged in Christian proselytising in Afghanistan after the government suspended their activities following a television report.
Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid said they had been operating in Afghanistan for decades and their work was entirely humanitarian.
Afghanistan is holding a peace jirga or a meeting of tribal elders and notables to discuss plans for a political settlment of the nine-year conflict. Reuters text, pictures and television journalists will be blogging live from Kabul when the conference opens on June 2 in a giant tent under heavy security guard.
Returning to Bagram, the massive U.S. and NATO base north of the Afghan capital, after an interval of two years is an instructive experience. The first thing that hits you as you drive through the dusty Shomali plains, framed by snowcapped mountains, is the war economy. All along the road out of Kabul are huge container depots and trucks — either on their way to Bagram or returning — lined up by the road. Most of the trucks are from Pakistan, marked by brightly decorated exteriors that have become an art form which lightens life on the road.
The U.S. military transports everything from the gum that soldiers chew almost incessantly to the armoured vehciles they use to fight the war — there is virtually nothing the military can source from here yet. For all the troubles in Pakistan, anything up to 80 percent of the military supplies into landlocked Afghanistan are routed through there. That’s the geographical reality with supplies shipped to the warm water port of Karachi and then driven up through Pakistan and into Afghanistan most of it through the northwest, but also the crossing in Baluchistan, further south.