Actually, now that you mention it, that part of the world is rich in rare earth minerals.<quoted text>
Oh, not so. There is the opium production, drug routes and oil pipeline routes (and natural resources) that they have secured and want to keep.
Not 'winnable', and sustainable, I'd agree. Being there at all was folly. But staying there is pure folly. But stay we will. For the obvious reasons.
We went to Iraq for nothing but to secure the oil for big mega corporations.
So from an economic standpoint, it is of strategic importance.