"Since Jan1 NATO's burnt 86741lbs pot, 13600lbs hash, 990lbs pot seeds & (shocker) only 15lbs opium in Panjwai alone (ISAF press releases)"
--John Wendle, a freelancer for Time, via Twitter.
The latest crisis in Afghanistan stemmed from the alleged killing of civilians by a U.S soldier. Not much is known yet, but officials and civilians in Kandahar as well as President Hamid Karzai want justice delivered swiftly. On Tuesday, Time magazine said two of Karzai’s brothers were in a delegation of officials who were fired on by Taliban. Fact is the Taliban is heavily into the drug trade and ISAF forces are busy disrupting that trade.
Not much hope remains for dialog with those the U.S. calls ‘moderate Taliban.’
It’s likely hope is on the decline among U.S. troops too, considering the killing of International Security Assistance Force soldiers by Afghan civilians, some reportedly in the Afghan National Army. One reader wrote to The US Report, claiming such killings had gone on “for years.”
THE WAR ON DRUGS—IN AFGHANISTAN
On Wednesday reports surfaced about a truck crashing and bursting into flames about the same time Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta landed at Camp Bastion. That same day 8 civilians were killed by a roadside bomb. The L.A. Times said, “Afghanistan's drug trade is centered in Helmand, and narcotics trafficking is a significant source of revenue for the Taliban.”
In a strange turn of events, U.S. troops gathered to hear Panetta speak in a tent at Camp Leatherneck, adjacent to Camp Bastion, were asked to remove their weapons before the secretary’s visit.
On Sunday after stories surfaced about the U.S. soldier shooting civilians, ISAF placed a statement on the news section of the force’s website. There was another statement as well, announcing a raid in Marjeh. Aside from recovering some weapons, ammo and “potential improvised explosive-device making materials", the statement announced “the biggest drug bust in ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] National Interdiction Unit history.”
ISAF said the loss of money would “significantly affect the insurgents’ capabilities and resources for the spring offensive…”
The raid turned up approximately 4,000 pounds of "suspected narcotics" worth $2.5-3 million.
Drugs are part of the culture. In 2009 the U.S. Institute for Peace, an organization created by the U.S. Congress in 1984 when Ronald Reagan was president, issued a report ‘How Opium Profits the Taliban.’
That report asserted that key players associated with opium smuggling and money laundering remained constant. The report said:
“Since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the poppy trade has played a critical destabilizing role, both in corrupting the Afghan government and police and in bankrolling the resurgence of the Taliban. This study shows how Taliban commanders on the village level have expanded their activities related to drugs from collecting extortion and charging protection fees to running heroin refineries and engaging in kidnapping and other smuggling schemes. As insurgent commanders become more deeply tied to criminal activity, it will become more difficult for the coalition of foreign forces in Afghanistan to defeat them.”
SCHEUER’S ADVICE: DO NOT TRUST YOUR AFGHAN ALLIES
Michael Scheuer, former CIA officer who was an expert on Osama bin Laden, wrote a passionate analysis of the conflict in Afghanistan after hearing that President Barack Obama had apologized to Karzai for the burning of Korans that detainees had reportedly written messages in.
Scheuer said Obama’s apology should’ve gone to the parents and families of U.S. troops killed in the country. Scheuer said one lesson from history was clear: “DO NOT TRUST YOUR AFGHAN ALLIES. In each of the three occupations, the occupiers found that the Afghans they paid, armed, and trained ultimately either deserted and joined the enemy or simply turned on and killed them.”
Scheuer believes that if a war is fought, it should be won. He also wrote:
“[T]hose Afghans who are killing Western soldiers are the only social forces that count in Afghanistan, and they are the only ones that have counted since we invaded in 2001. Had we smashed these folks to the edge of extinction and then left in the 18 months following 9/11, all would have been well. But we stayed to build a secular democracy and empower women, and today the world’s greatest power and its allies are acknowledging defeat at the hands of shaggy lads armed with weapons of Korean War vintage.”
TALIBAN INTERESTED IN MONEY, POWER
There’s a fascinating history of the Taliban at Southeast Asia Analysis, written by R. Upadhyay who noted the U.S. simply didn’t properly address the influence of both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the jihadist movement. Upadhyay wrote, “Taliban is an updated Jihadi strategy of terror war against India and expansion of Arabian imperialism in South Asia.”
Upadhyay’s essay is well worth your time because he explains the intricate relationships that spawned the Taliban movement and the implications of that movement on the world:
“Believing in strictly radical interpretation of Islam and with objective to establish Islamic political power all over the world particularly in South Asia, Taliban draws inspiration not only from the long march of Islamist conquests by Arabian warlords from seventh century AD onwards which created the bloodiest history of world but also from all the Islamic revival movements after the fading glory of Islamic power since eighteenth century AD.”
Studying various commentary and reportage, it soon becomes apparent that a major source of conflict in Afghanistan is related to drugs, money and power rather than strictly to Islamist fundamentalism.
Americans are currently debating the drug war here at home. Many don’t realize there’s a drug war going on in Afghanistan too.
WHAT COUNTRIES ARE MOST IMPACTED BY AFGHAN DRUG TRADE?
Russia is concerned about smuggling of poppy derivatives into Central Asia, according to the CIA World Fact Book. The same source said, “[M]ost of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; regional source of hashish (2011).”
That information raises questions. Why aren’t those countries playing a larger role in the effort in Afghanistan?
Furthermore, Scheuer’s essay suggests our troops are serving in a situation where it is impossible to determine who your enemy really is.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/March 15, 2012)