Within a few days of each other, US media has reported tremendous mineral wealth in Afghanistan and in Zimbabwe, two countries noted for their poverty. In the case of Afghanistan, The New York Times reported that “nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan” had been discovered, while in Zimbabwe, “New mining in Zimbabwe has quickly yielded millions of carats of diamonds and could help catapult the nation into the ranks of the world’s top diamond producers… But the new wealth has provoked fears that the riches will be used to subvert attempts to bring democracy to a country that has long suffered under authoritarian rule, and also to finance conflicts.”
As the world economic crisis continues, the finds of the former are looked upon as justification for further US intervention in Afghanistan, while the finds of the latter are looked at as a way for the Mugabe government, which was forced to enter into a coalition with the right-wing and pro-British Movement for Democratic Change in 2008, to enrich itself. As the Times
reported, “Investigators for both the Kimberley Process and human rights groups have gathered what they call credible accounts that the military used extreme violence in its 2008 operation to seize the Marange fields, employing dogs, AK-47s and even strafing from helicopters to attack miners engaged in a diamond rush. Officers then set up their own smuggling syndicates, the groups said.”
It should be noted, however, that the Afghan resource finds were not a total surprise to international capitalism. During their occupation of Afghanistan in the 1979-1989 period, the Soviet Union employed geologists to survey areas for minerals, while in 2002 the US State Department noted that, “Afghanistan is endowed with a wealth of natural resources, including extensive deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, and precious and semiprecious stones.” Furthermore, as inter-imperialist conflict between the United States and China rises, Afghanistan is likely to be a source of contention. Hajigak and Aynak are two mining areas in Afghanistan sought after by the Chinese, who hope to invest in these areas to the detriment of US forces.
In these situations the solutions can only be found in anti-imperialist, socialist revolts by the working masses of Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.