Erik Prince Has His Eye On Afghanistan’s Rare Metals


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Controversial personal safety tycoon Erik Prince has famously pitched an audacious plan to the Trump administration: Rent him to denationalise the struggle in Afghanistan utilizing squads of “safety contractors.” Now, for the primary time, Buzzfeed Information is publishing that pitch, a presentation that lays out how Prince needed to take over the struggle from the US navy — and the way he envisioned mining among the most war-torn provinces in Afghanistan to assist fund safety operations and procure strategic mineral assets for the US.

Prince, who based the Blackwater safety agency and testified final week to the Home Intelligence Committee for its Russia investigation, has deep connections into the present White Home: He’s mates with former presidential adviser Stephen Bannon, and he’s the brother of Betsy DeVos, the schooling secretary.

Prince briefed prime Trump administration officers instantly, talked up his plan publicly on the DC circuit, and revealed op-eds about it. He patterned the technique he is pitching on the historic mannequin of the outdated British East India Firm, which had its personal military and colonized a lot of Britain’s empire in India. “An East India Firm strategy,” he wrote within the Wall Road Journal, “would use cheaper personal options to fill the gaps that plague the Afghan safety forces, together with dependable logistics and aviation help.”

However the particulars have by no means been made public. Right here is the never-before-published slide presentation for his pitch, which a supply accustomed to the matter mentioned was ready for the Trump administration.

One stunning ingredient is the business promise Prince envisions: that the US will get entry to Afghanistan’s wealthy deposits of minerals equivalent to lithium, utilized in batteries; uranium; magnesite; and “uncommon earth components,” crucial metals utilized in excessive expertise from protection to electronics. One slide estimates the worth of mineral deposits in Helmand province alone at $1 trillion.

The presentation makes it plain that Prince intends to fund the hassle by means of these wealthy deposits. His plan, one slide says, is “a strategic mineral useful resource extraction funded effort that breaks the destructive safety financial cycle.” The slides additionally say that mining may present jobs to Afghans.

“What’s specified by the slides is a mannequin of an inexpensive approach for the US to stabilize a failed state the place we’re presently losing American youth and tens of billions of yearly,” a Prince spokesperson emailed BuzzFeed Information Thursday.

Protection Secretary James Mattis “did meet with Mr. Prince earlier this yr,” a Protection Division spokesperson mentioned. “He meets with folks on a regular basis to hear and listen to new concepts.” The CIA declined to remark. It’s been broadly reported that the Pentagon pushed again in opposition to Prince’s idea, and that nationwide safety adviser H.R. McMaster was against it as nicely.

Prince at the moment runs a Chinese language safety and logistics firm, as BuzzFeed Information has beforehand reported. Nonetheless, in his pitch to America’s policymakers, he performs the US in opposition to China. One slide, dedicated to “market manipulation in uncommon earth components,” presents China as dominating the marketplace for the precious minerals.

Mockingly, the assertion from Prince’s spokesman that mentioned Prince’s Chinese language firm, Frontier Providers Group, would take part within the Afghanistan plan, and “would supply logistics help to the extractive corporations with safe transportation and camp help.”

Many consultants on Afghanistan mock Prince’s idea of privatizing the struggle there. His supporters say that because the navy has to this point failed in Afghanistan, his strategy deserves a attempt. One supply who was briefed by Prince says, “His coronary heart’s in the fitting place. The issue is that his head is up his ass.”

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed Information caught up with Prince in Leesburg, Virginia. He declined to speak, saying, “You are a fucking hack.”

Aram Roston is an investigative reporter and editor for BuzzFeed Information and relies in Washington, DC. His safe PGP fingerprint is D861 374F D725 4F61 39C0 08F1 4575 134B 09D9 B28D

Contact Aram Roston at [email protected]

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