From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:
PR coup falls flat among the beans
Jon Boone in Kabul
July 2, 2009
IT WAS just the sort of good news the British military in Helmand needed. Soldiers engaged in Operation Panther’s Claw, the huge assault against insurgent strongholds last week, had discovered a record-breaking haul of more than 1.18 tonnes of poppy seeds, destined to become part of the opium crop that generates $US400 million ($496 million) a year for the Taliban.
The British Ministry of Defence officials more used to dealing with negative stories about the British operation in southern Afghanistan swung into action to extract the maximum benefit from this unexpected public relations coup.
A news release hailed the success of the offensive and armoured vehicles were hastily laid on to allow the media to visit the site where the seizure was made, an abandoned market and petrol station still under sustained enemy fire when the reporters arrived.
Major Rupert Whitelegge, commander of the company in charge of the area, tugged at one of the heavy sacks. “They are definitely poppy seeds,” he said.
Except they weren’t. A sample analysis carried out by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation in Kabul for The Guardian newspaper and website revealed the soldiers had captured nothing more than a giant pile of mung beans.
Embarrassed British officials now admit their triumph has turned sour and have promised to return the legal crop to its rightful owner.
Samuel Kugbei, the FAO’s chief technical adviser in Kabul, said: “We have been waiting all day to see these dangerous materials from Helmand and now we see that they are just mung beans.”
The beans also fooled Colonel General Khodaidad, Afghanistan‘s minister of counter-narcotics, even though they looked nothing like poppy seeds. When shown the beans he said they were a strain of “super poppy”.
$2,000 For A Dead Afghan Child, $100,000 For Any American Who Died Killing It: here.
Amid the chorus of denunciations in US and European ruling circles over the alleged theft of the Iranian elections, the Obama administration and its NATO allies are presiding over an election campaign in Afghanistan that is as corrupt as it is illegitimate: here.
A US congressional study has concluded that resistance fighters in Afghanistan are far less reliant on drug-trade profits than widely estimated: here.
Kazai’s vice president Muhammed Fahim and drugs: here.
- Apparent Afghan Insider Attack Kills 2 NATO Troops (blogs.voanews.com)
- MoD names two dead UK soldiers (bbc.co.uk)
- Did Afghan policeman kill British female medic and Royal Marine? (telegraph.co.uk)
- Man in Afghan police uniform shoots two British soldiers dead (guardian.co.uk)
- A Response to Upton: ISAF Pulls from Sheen’s Dictionary, Redefines “Winning.” (findingmytribe.me)