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Sayfi National Parks are government-owned and have a series of laws and regulations that are meant to protect and preserve Sayf’s natural landscapes and beauty that were passed by the Sayfi parliament in the early 1920s. Because of this, any natural resources that are within the borders of these parks are to remain in the ground and untouched to maintain the sanctity of the park. 

Twenty years ago, a geographical survey of Sayf’s largest national park, Halima National park, discovered a vast deposit of hard rock lithium deep inside the park, away from most tourists and inaccessible to the average park visitor. Smaller lithium deposits had been known to exist in other parts of Sayf, but none to this scale.

Since the survey, private corporations have been lobbying the government to allow them to extract the lithium from Halima, but have been unsuccessful. The demand from these corporations have been ever increasing since the demand for lithium is ever-increasing, but the government has yet to yield to their demands, citing that the laws surrounding the subject are concrete and that the current party that holds the majority in the Sayfi Parliament, the left National Democratic Party, who are also in a coalition with the farther-left Republican Left party are uninterested in repealing the laws that protect national parks from the hands of private interest.

Despite the law explicitly forbidding any mining, Sayfi corporation ‘Sakhar Mining’ has recently sent an expedition deep into Halima National Park to follow-up on the two-decade-old survey that originally discovered the deposit, with the intention of starting an illegal mining operation, under the guise of a more accurate survey of the land.

DEEP IN HALIMA NATIONAL PARK, SAYF

A group of ten well-equipped hikers trudges through thick brush, carrying hiking poles and wearing large backpacks. The hiker at the front of the pack stops the group as they reach an overlook, they have a map and a GPS device in hand, they motion towards the valley that lies beyond the overlook, “This is it, it should be in this valley.” Another member of the party pipes up, “You sure? That survey’s pretty old, twenty years almost.”, “Sakhar paid a pretty penny for the full survey, with the information on the deposits, it better be here.” The leader of the party lowers their map and GPS device, “Now that we’re here, we need to confirm that the information in the survey is legitimate. It says there are deposits alongside the face of the mountain and in the river bed, they should be quite rich. Abdullah and Khalifa, you’re on that. Take three people with you. The rest of you, set up camp.” The leader takes off their large pack, unzipping and digging into several pockets, retrieving a satellite phone. They extend the antenna and hit the speed-dial button.

SAKHAR MINING CORPORATION HEADQUARTERS, BAGHDAD, SAYF

An older man looks out of the large glass window in his office, it overlooks downtown Baghdad, its sprawling skyscrapers, and ever-expanding markets and malls. There’s construction for a new skyscraper across the street from the building he’s standing in. “I should file a noise complaint,” he thinks to himself, making a note to tell his secretary to do so. A speaker on his desk crackles on, “Mr. Sakhar, Mr. Zayidi is here to see you now.”, “Send him in”, he responds. The large mahogany doors that lead into Sakhar’s office swing open, a short and fat man who matches Sakhar in age enters the room, “Salam Alayikum, Mr. Sakhar! It’s been too long.”, they exchange a handshake, ‘Alayikum A-salam, Abu Zayidi, please take a seat.” Right after they sit down, a woman wearing a hijab enters the room, placing down a tray with two cups of chai and a cup of sugar onto the table. Sakhar grabs the cup facing his way, taking a sip without adding any sugar, Zayidi adds four spoonfuls before taking a sip. “Mr. Zayidi, there is rumors that Karim will not run in this coming election cycle. This presents a unique opportunity for your party and your coalition to take power.” “Yes, there are many rumors circulating on who will be Karim’s replacement at the NDP, and if he will retire at all, he is supremely popular, I must say.” “Listen Zayidi, we are prepared to donate over one-hundred million dinars to the Conservative Action Party if you promise us mining rights to the Halima National Park lithium deposits.” “I assure you, Mr. Sakhar for a donation that sizeable, we will repeal the laws surrounding the protection of national parks and give you the mining rights to the area. Unfortunately, donations for corporations to political parties are illegal.” “Mr. Zayidi, do not be silly. We have ways around such regulations, we will send you the donations through various payments via cryptocurrency and NFTs. I have a monkey worth two-million dinars, I’ll have you know. It’s a great way to evade taxes as well.” ‘Well, with your support Mr. Sakhar we will surely have enough funding to win this election, and those mining rights are as good as yours. Our coalition with the other right-wing parties will surely prevail.” “Very well, Mr. Zayidi, very well. Be sure to grab a gift-bag on your way out. The funds will be deposited over the next week or so.” Zayidi gets up from his seat, shaking hands with Sakhar before leaving the office. The speaker crackles on again, it’s his secretary. “Mr. Sakhar, we have Amira from the expedition on line two.” Sakhar picks up the phone, “Amira, how goes the expedition?” “We have located where the deposits are meant to be on this survey, Abdullah and some others are mapping the exact locations now. I’ve even found some lithium quartz washed up along the river, this area is very rich Mr. Sakhar.” “Very good, we will want to begin operations immediately, those mining rights are as good as ours. I have meeting in ten with the board, get a report ready in the meantime.”

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