A team of American geologists has recently discovered more
than $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in
However, things could also go wrong if these resources are
not properly managed by the government. Rather than helping the country and
encouraging peace, the minerals could become a catalyst for violence and a
source of funding for the Taliban. Conflict-ridden countries with weak
governance and abundant natural resources are often a recipe for disaster. The
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a prime example of this. The government
has virtually no control over mineral resources in the east of the country,
which have been taken over by armed groups and members of the national army.
The latter are complicit in illegally taxing and systematically abusing miners
for their own financial benefits. Most of the minerals are smuggled into
To prevent this from happening, the US and Afghan governments need to collaborate to strengthen internal governance and institutions- the Ministry of Mines for instance- and ensure that adequate security mechanisms are put in place around the mines and at the borders. Unfortunately, this would require additional resources and manpower that the Afghan government does not currently have; if the government can barely run proper elections, how can it be expected to adequately manage trillions of dollars of mineral riches? The Taliban will have taken control of most of the mines before the government has had time to build the necessary infrastructure and instead of helping the country, the minerals could become a further source of internal conflict.