The claims of the American president on this territory provoked a diplomatic crisis with Denmark. Prefnews explain why the “green country” interests the United States. The case has turned to the diplomatic crisis. Vexed by the Danish Prime Minister’s response to his interest in Greenland, Donald Trump canceled his visit to Denmark on Tuesday (August 20th). “The Prime Minister’s statement that it was an absurd idea” to buy Greenland “was nasty,” thundered the US president in front of reporters. While traveling in Denmark’s autonomous territory, Mette Frederiksen described the US president’s purchase proposal as “absurd”.
Behind the diplomatic spikes hide a real interest of the United States for this territory. Prefnews explains why.
- Because it’s a strategic territory
This is not the first time the United States has coveted the Green Island. In 1867, the country had tried to afford a lot Iceland-Greenland, without success. In 1946, President Harry Truman then proposed to Denmark to buy the territory for $ 100 million, to make it a military outpost.
Located a short distance from Canada’s coasts, between Europe and North America, the island occupies a strategic place. “Since the 1940s, Greenland has even been seen by the Pentagon as the first natural curtain of defense for the East Coast of the United States,” says Mikaa Mered to France 24. The US military has a base in Thule, in the north of the island.
- Because its soil is rich in raw materials
With a small population – 56,025 inhabitants for an area of two million km2 – Greenland is rich in raw materials (oil, gas, gold, diamond, uranium, zinc, lead), despite the presence of ice making it difficult. any exploitation. “Only 20% of the territory is thawed.” In this part, there are many mineral resources, oil, gas and rare minerals, “said Parisian Mikaa Mered, professor of geopolitics at the Institut libre d’étude. International relations and Arctic pole specialist.
In 2008, surveys by the United States Geological Survey estimated that Greenlandic soil contained 31 billion barrels of oil equivalent fossil fuel (gas and oil).
With global warming, these reserves could be more easily accessible. Bad news for the planet – fossil fuel consumption is one of the main drivers of climate change – but it does give some ideas. As the Good Life magazine reported in 2015, a Greenlandic official said his country has the potential to become an “emirate in the north of the world”, modeled on the fossil-rich Arab states.
- Because it is coveted by other countries like China.
Acquiring Greenland would also allow the United States to prevent the installation of rivals on this island at the doors of their country. As Le Figaro reports, Washington went out of its way to force China Communications Construction Company to withdraw from the tender for the extension of the Nuuk, Ilulissat and Qaqortoq airports. In 2017, Denmark also refused to allow a Chinese mining company to buy the former Gronnedal naval base in order not to offend the United States, reports Reuters (in English).
More generally, US interest in the island can be read as a response to Russian investments in the Arctic. “Clearly in the case of the Russians, Trump’s logic is to say ‘you will not continue to be the great power of the Arctic even though you will be chairing the Arctic Council in 2021,’ ‘says researcher Mikaa Mered. AFP And in relation to the Chinese, the Monroe doctrine idea is’ we will not let you get a foothold in Greenland (…). repositioning diplomats, we will co-finance new airports, finance education, and social programs … The ultimate goal is to acquire not Greenland but at least new territories, new parcels of land ‘”.
- Because it’s a politically vulnerable territory
The local political context is not likely to discourage American ambitions. Greenland maintains an ambivalent relationship with Denmark, with which it signed a treaty strengthening the autonomy of the territory in 2009. As explained by Le Temps, the two parties winners of the last elections, the Social Democrats of Siumut and the left-green formation of Inuit Atagatigiit, are in favor of independence, although they are careful not to give a date.