The United States ‘handed over’ Afghanistan to the Taliban in return for the latter’s promise of protecting western energy interests in Afghanistan, a move that falls in line with US’s long-term climate policies.
The aforementioned claims were made by Arab energy expert, Dr. Anas AlHajji, who has written extensively on energy markets issues and has served in leading managerial positions in energy-related consultancies.
In a series of tweets on Twitter, the energy expert has made controversial claims regarding the recent fall of Kabul. The tweets form part of the wider recent narrative that the United States made a deal with the Taliban which allowed them to take over Afghanistan. Alhajji gives the rationale behind such a deal and claims that it was made in return for the terror group promising to protect its energy interests in Afghanistan.
AlHajji has based his claims in the importance of oil and gas pipelines that pass through the country. However, he argues that the primary US interest in Afghanistan currently were its lithium reserves, the mining and protection of which falls in line with long-term US climate policy goals.
The energy expert contended that the Turkmenistan-Pakistan-Afghanistan-India (TAPI) Pipeline was important for the United States as it helps ease Turkmenistan’s dependence on US’s geopolitical rivals China and Russia. Thus, the US had an interest in keeping Afghanistan stable for the uninterrupted functioning of the pipeline. This was not possible with a foreign occupation and the political instability associated with it. This, AlHajji argues, necessitated the ‘US-Taliban’ deal and the subsequent troop withdrawal that we saw this year.
AlHajji further claims the a delegation of the Afghan Taliban visited Turkmenistan six months back and pledged to protect the pipeline. The energy expert further stated the visit was coordinated by the United States, which according to him raised questions such as why the US would enable such a meeting between the government of Turkmenistan and the Taliban when an internationally recognized government was present in Kabul.
Furthermore, the energy expert claims that a matter of even greater importance for the United States was the presence of Lithium in large quantities in Saudi Arabia, citing a US Department of Defence report that drew parallels between Afghanistan’s lithium reserves with Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.
Lithium currently is highly sought after considering the world’s move towards electric vehicles as part of the international move to counter climate change.
AlHajji supports his argument that US’s interest in Afghan lithium and the fulfilment of its climate policy goals had a link with its deal with the Taliban by asserting that when the Taliban captured those areas in Afghanistan that contained lithium reserves, they did not engage in their signature violence despite the fact that the groups populating these areas were minorities with a history of enmity with the terror group. According to the energy expert, the group’s lack of violence in those areas was the result of an underlying aim to maintain stability in the area. This, according to AlHajji, may be because of US desire for extracting and protecting Afghan lithium falling within the domain of the US-Taliban deal.
Moreover, AlHajji maintained that the United States and Europe wanted Afghan lithium to fulfil their climate change goals, and with its extraction in Afghanistan, they won’t have to be exposed to pollution associated with lithium mining, and their mining companies would reap the rewards.