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Debunking Hidden Treasure Stories in Afghanistan

June 22, 2010

When those recent “hidden treasure” stories about untapped mineral wealth in Afghanistan came out, I couldn’t help but wonder about their timing and the real story behind them.  For one, the U.S. is desperately looking for a happy ending to this horror story of a war that has been unfolding for nine years now.  And the news stories about billions of dollors worth of minerals just waiting to be extracted in Afghanistan came at the same time Congress was pushing Gen. McChyrstal for some clearer answers.  Besides, natural resources have certainly not always been a boon for peace and development in countries with weak or corrupt governments.  Just think goldmines in South Africa under apartheid, “conflict diamonds” in Sierra Leone, and oil in Iraq, and you have to wonder if expansive mineral discoveries in Afghanistan would be a blessing or a curse.

What I didn’t expect was that my suspicions would be confirmed by a colleague working on the Law of the Sea treaty – which FCNL has supported for decades.  Based on direct experience with the Law of the Sea, the headlines about trillions of dollars in mineral wealth in Afghanistan are a far cry from the reality.  Read her analysis here.

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