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Taliban Offer To Protect Afghan Natural Resource Projects

The Afghan Taliban, who have been responsible for much of the violence in Afghanistan in the past 15 years, said on Tuesday that they would protect major government projects in the country, including a major gas pipeline and a copper deposit.

“The Islamic Emirate not only backs all national projects which are in the interest of the people and result in the development and prosperity of the nation but are also committed to safeguarding them,” the Taliban said in a statement.

One of the projects the Taliban specifically mentioned was the US$10-billion Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. Other projects that the Taliban vowed to protect include the CASA-1000 regional electricity project to link central Asia with South Asia, and the US$3-billion Mes Aynak copper deposit.

The Taliban have been responsible for millions of dollars worth of damage to Afghan infrastructure in the past three months alone, the office of the president has said, according to Reuters.

“We are waiting to see the Taliban turn their statements into practice,” Reuters quoted palace spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi as saying.

Back in 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey launched a project to help Afghanistan chart its natural resources.

“The coalition of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, and the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), was created by the U.S. Department of Defense, to share American international science and technology as a strategic tool for promoting economic development,” the USGS said at the time.

Afghanistan, torn by decades of wars and insurgency, may have mouth-watering oil and gas riches, but opium still rules this economy amid a lack of any real investment in getting oil and gas out of the ground.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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