Blood for opium in Afghanistan

This video from Australia is called Afghanistan: 8yrs! – Sydney Stop the War Rally.

By John Jiggens in Australia:

Afghan war fuels opium boom

18 March 2010

It was common during the opening of the Iraq war to see slogans proclaiming “No blood for oil!” The cover story for the war — Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s links with Al Qaeda and his weapons of mass destruction — were obvious mass deceptions, hiding a far less palatable imperial agenda.

The truth was that Iraq was a major producer of oil and, in our age, oil is the most strategic resource of all.

The war’s real agenda was confirmed by moves to privatise Iraq’s state-owned oil company to Western interests in the aftermath of the invasion.

Why then, are there no slogans saying “No blood for opium”?

Afghanistan’s major product is opium and opium production has increased remarkably during the present war. The current NATO military offensive around Marjah in Hemand province, reported to be Afghanistan’s main opium-producing area, is clearly motivated by opium.

Why then won’t people consider that a hidden agenda for the Afghan war has been control of the opium trade?

The weapons of mass deception tell us that the opium belongs to the Taliban and the US is fighting a “war on drugs” as well as terror.

Yet it remains a curious fact that the opium trade has tracked across southern Asia for the past five decades from east to west, following US wars and always under the control of US assets.

In the 1960s, when the US fought a secret war in Laos using the Hmong opium army of Vang Pao as its proxy, south-east Asia produced 70% of the world’s illicit opium.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, opium production in areas of Afghanistan controlled by US-backed drug lords took off until it rivalled Southeast Asian production.

Since 2002, Afghan opium production, encouraged by both the Taliban and US-backed drug lords, has reached 93% of world illicit production, an unparalleled performance.

The 2008 United Nations World Drug Report showed the astonishing increase in Afghan opium production that followed the US invasion. In 2001, Afghanistan’s share of global illicit opium production was 185 metric tons out of the global total of 1630 metric tons.

By 2007, this had skyrocketed to more than 8200 metric tons of the nearly 8870 metric ton global total.

In the 1980s, the US supported Islamic fundamentalists, the Mujahideen, against the Soviets in Afghanistan. To pay for their war, the Mujahideen ordered peasants to grow opium.

Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates, under the protection of Pakistani intelligence, operated hundreds of heroin labs.

As the Golden Crescent in south-west Asia eclipsed the Golden Triangle in south-east Asia as the centre of the heroin trade, it sent rates of addiction spiralling in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and the former Soviet Union.

To hide US complicity in the drug trade, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers were required to look away from the drug-dealing intrigues of US allies — and the support they received from Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and the services of Pakistani banks.

The CIA’s mission was to destabilise the Soviet Union through the promotion of militant Islam inside the central Asian republics and the drug war was sacrificed to fight the Cold War.

Afghanistan also biggest hashish producer: here.

Also from Australia:

BRISBANE — Despite the postponement of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia until June, a rally protesting against his government’s war policies took place on March 19, the seventh anniversary of the US-led allied invasion of Iraq.

T. Christian Miller of ProPublica, the independent on-line investigative news operation, and Mark Hosenball and Ron Moreau of Newsweek, are reporting today that $6 Billion Later, Afghan Cops Aren’t Ready to Serve: here.

Thousands of of anti-war protesters marched through Washington and other cities across the US on Saturday to press the Obama administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq immediately: here.

A British soldier was jailed this month for refusing to participate in the military occupation of Afghanistan and for his involvement in anti-war protests: here.

As far as I can tell, no media outlets whatsoever have picked up on the recent announcement (below, courtesy of a UN news agency) from the UN Secretary-General. The latest figures on internally displaced persons demonstrate the utter disaster which the war in Afghanistan has brought for a wide swath of the population: here.

WHILE hundreds of Afghan civilians are being killed in General Petraeus’ Afghan surge, and British and US casualties escalate upwards despite the ‘victories’ being achieved, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai – who retained the presidency when a second round election run off was cancelled after the first round was declared to be rigged – has been holding peace talks with a pro-Taleban delegation in Kabul, under the noses of the US-UK military: here.

The number of Afghans applying for asylum jumped dramatically last year making them the largest group seeking official sanctuary abroad, the UN refugee agency has said: here.

The Canadian military has stopped reporting when soldiers are wounded in battle in Afghanistan and will instead deliver annual statistics to the public: here.

Tom Hayden on the Afghan war: here.

Afghanistan, Colombia, Vietnam: The Deep Politics of Drugs and Oil: here.

7 thoughts on “Blood for opium in Afghanistan

  1. MPs slam Afghan detainee document ‘charade’

    Tories trying to ‘bide time to protect themselves’ says NDP critic

    Last Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 4:09 PM ET

    CBC News

    Opposition MPs have accused the Conservative government of showing contempt for the authority of Parliament with its tabling of about 2,500 pages of heavily redacted documents related to the Afghan detainee controversy.
    In this July 2009 file photo, a man Afghan authorities suspect of insurgency-related activities is interrogated during a joint Canadian-Afghan army patrol in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province.In this July 2009 file photo, a man Afghan authorities suspect of insurgency-related activities is interrogated during a joint Canadian-Afghan army patrol in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

    In a surprise move Thursday morning, the government presented two boxes containing a single copy of what it said were previously unreleased documents pertaining to the handling of Afghan detainees. Photocopies then needed to be made before they were distributed to the opposition.

    MPs from all three opposition parties have been trying to get the government to abide by a parliamentary order issued in December to release detainee-related documents without heavily blacked-out redactions. The government has rebuffed their request, citing national security concerns.

    During Thursday’s question period, NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair accused the Conservatives of using the documents as a way to “bide time to protect themselves.”

    “Behind the lie that this is about national security, it’s just the same old story,” Mulcair told the House.

    Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh told the House the presentation of the material — in a single copy, and in English only — was “totally incoherent and totally disorderly,” while Bloc Québécois MP Claude Bachand said the Conservatives pretended to co-operate with the House, but were still “hiding the truth” with large portions of blacked-out text.

    Justice Minister Rob Nicholson defended the redactions, saying they are made by “non-partisan public servants whose only interest is the protection of national security.” He encouraged opposition members to review the material before jumping to any conclusions about their content.

    “This is not like the budget,” Nicholson quipped, in reference to the three opposition leaders’ quick condemnation of the Tories’ fiscal plan earlier this month.

    The opposition wants to see whether government documents contain information dealing with the risk of torture in Afghan jails for suspected Taliban fighters handed over by Canadian troops.

    A special Commons committee on the Afghanistan mission has been investigating the issue for months and has heard that the government had clear warnings about torture, but continued to transfer detainees into Afghan custody.

    Last November, the committee heard bombshell testimony from former top diplomat Richard Colvin, who alleged that all prisoners handed over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities were likely subsequently abused and that government officials were well aware of the problem. Government and military officials have vehemently denied Colvin’s allegations.

    Opposition parties have accused the prime minister of using the recent two-month prorogation of Parliament to hinder the committee’s work and avoid potentially embarrassing questions on the Afghan detainee affair.
    Speaker’s ruling awaited
    Intelligence officer and ex-diplomat Richard Colvin spoke last November to the Commons committee on Afghanistan about his experience with the detainee transfer issue.Intelligence officer and ex-diplomat Richard Colvin spoke last November to the Commons committee on Afghanistan about his experience with the detainee transfer issue. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

    Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale called the government’s presentation a “charade” and said it failed to meet any of the transparency or information requirements set out in a Dec. 10 motion passed by the House ordering the government to hand over specific documents to the Afghanistan committee in unredacted form.

    “What have they been doing with the documents for the past 3½ months?” Goodale said in the House. “What we’ve had here is a show.”

    But Tom Lukiwski, parliamentary secretary to government House leader Jay Hill, repeated the government’s position that it is legally bound by security concerns, but is working with Parliament to provide the requested material as quickly as it can.

    “We’ve consistently stated that all legally available documents will continue to be tabled,” he told the House.

    Any potential resolution, or escalation, of the documents showdown now rests on the shoulders of House Speaker Peter Milliken, who has yet to rule on the opposition parties’ appeals for him to find the government violated parliamentary privilege by refusing to abide by the Dec. 10 House order.

    Milliken has said he will consider the opposition motions after he hears from the responsible ministers, who have yet to reply to the issue of privilege.

    On Thursday, the justice minister’s office would only say the government will be responding on the issue “in due course.”

    Earlier this month, Nicholson announced that the government has enlisted retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to review the documents relating to the Afghan detainee affair and determine whether some could be made public.


  2. US ready to pursue senior Afghan officials on drugs


    Thu Apr 1, 10:05 am ET

    KABUL (AFP) – The US government anti-drugs agency is prepared to act on any intelligence linking high-level Afghan officials to the country’s illicit drugs industry, its acting head said Thursday.

    Afghanistan’s drugs industry is worth up to three billion dollars a year, controlled by militants and gangs who use cross-border routes to smuggle drugs to Pakistan and Iran, and bring arms and fighters back in.

    “We go where the evidence takes us,” US Drug Enforcement Administration acting administrator Michelle Leonhart told reporters in Kabul.

    “If there is evidence that there are high-level officials within the government, I am very confident that, with our partnership with the counter narcotics police, our partnership with the minister of interior and others, that we will pursue that,” she added.

    Leonhart was responding to a question about high-ranking Afghan officials said to be involved in drugs trafficking, including brother of President Hamid Karzai, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who heads the provincial council in Kandahar.

    “I will not address individual traffickers,” she added.

    Western officials have condemned claims that senior officials in the Afghan government or provincial authorities are involved in drugs trafficking.

    “We will be setting our sights on looking at that corruption angle and we know it’s important to do it for the Afghan people,” said Leonhart.

    During her visit to Afghanistan, she toured Marjah, a community in southern Afghanistan synonymous with poppy cultivation and where US Marines are leading around 15,000 troops in a bid to flush out the Taliban.

    The current US administration has largely avoided crop eradication in favour of seeking to convince Afghan farmers to abandon poppy cultivation in favour of other agriculture.

    The strategy allows police to target traffickers over producers of narcotics.

    Last October, The New York Times reported that Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is said to have ties to Afghanistan’s lucrative illegal opium trade, has been on the CIA payroll for most of the past eight years for a variety of services.

    The DEA conducted 82 joint operations in the last year with NATO and Afghan police and 54 “significant violators” were brought to court, Leonhart said.


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