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US protecting Afghanistan’s poppy crops, extracting mineral resources: Scholar

US troops in Afghanistan guarding a poppy crop.

The United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was largely to protect the country’s opium cultivation and exploit its valuable minerals, says an American scholar and a retired professor in Madison, Wisconsin.

US Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Afghanistan last week to promote Washington’s four-month-old military strategy for the country came despite President Donald Trump’s promise to end America’s longest-running war in history, said James Henry Fetzer, founder of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

“The United States seems to be continuing its efforts in Afghanistan principally to protect the poppy crops…and to extract valuable mineral resources, including Lithium,” Fetzer told Press TV on Friday.

“It’s a disgrace that the United States is still there; Donald Trump promised to end these wars in the Middle East, and the very fact that the vice president is going there is a sign that [the US] is moving in the wrong direction,” he added.

Pence departed on the trip shortly after an event at the White House on Wednesday and arrived on a military aircraft at Bagram Airfield under the cover of darkness on Thursday night.

From Bagram, Pence flew by helicopter to the capital Kabul, where he held meetings with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

In August, Trump pledged to step-up the US military campaign against Taliban militants and signaled the United States would deploy more troops to the country.

In a blatant U-turn from his campaign pledges to end the now 16-year occupation of Afghanistan, Trump said that his views had changed since entering the White House and that he would continue the military intervention “as long as we see determination and progress” in Afghanistan.

Trump authorized an increase of thousands of troops requested by General John William Nicholson, who has said he needs about 16,000 troops in Afghanistan, and NATO countries have also pledged to help make up the difference.

The United States -- under Republican George W. Bush’s presidency -- and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban regime from power, but after more than one and a half decades, the foreign troops are still deployed to the country.

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