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opium & war
[nvusa digest 9/29/2001]

The latest updates to peace pages at Nonviolence USA focus on web resources for understanding a context of covert operations in Afghanistan that have been hinted at, then revealed, in recent editions of the New York Times.

NYT Columnist Thomas Friedman hints that the best way to kill Osama Bin Laden would be to hire hitmen from drug cartels. A more recent report from the NYT says the CIA has been working for three years with the Afghanistan Northern Alliance, apparently to produce such a result. It was the Northern Alliance leader who was recently assassinated.

According to a May 29 report from Eurasia Net, Afghanistan's opium trade has been shifting to the territory controlled by the Northern Alliance since "the late 1990s". Converging timelines thus indicate that opium trade was gravitating toward the Northern Alliance Territory about the time that the CIA was beginning its covert operations in the area. Afghanistan is a huge source of opium.

Previous updates at Nonviolence USA, also following hints from a NYT columnist, point to longstanding US interests in Afghanistan as a territory in need of a pipeline that would help move oil and gas from the giant reserves at Tengiz, Kazakhstan, where ChevronTexaco and Mobil own 70 percent of 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Vice President Dick Cheney has a longstanding record in the region as CEO of Halliburton and former member of the Kazakhstan Oil Advisory Board.

What can be clearly inferred from these convergencies is difficult to say, but the evidence suggests that American citizens have a right to demand clarifications that would help discipline Afghanistan-based military actions such that activities undertaken under cover of the American flag do not exceed their stated intentions to produce a safer world. The sooner we get critical help from mainstream media in these matters, the better.

The following clips and links may be found at:

The covert effort, which has not been previously disclosed, was based on an attempt to work with Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was then the military leader of the largest anti- Taliban group in the northern mountains of Afghanistan, and to have his forces go after Mr. bin Laden. Mr. Massoud was himself killed, C.I.A. officials say, only two days before the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and the C.I.A. believes he was assassinated by members of Mr. bin Laden's organization.
   --(NYTimes 9/29/2001).

Those who have followed the warming of relations between the Bush administration and Kabul are asking why the Bush administration wasn't alerted to an impending attack through Taliban back-channels. According to sources close to the Taliban and Pakistan's Jamiaat-i-Islami Party--the Pakistani fundamentalist movement that nurtured and trained the Taliban--a senior Jamiaat official, Qazi Husein Ahmad, recently traveled to both London and Washington. While in Washington, he reportedly re-established ties with the Taliban's old CIA contacts from the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
   -- Wayne Madsen (In These Times 10/15/2001).

Seventeen years later than expected, 1984 has arrived. In his address to Congress Thursday, George Bush effectively declared permanent war -- war without temporal or geographic limits; war without clear goals; war against a vaguely defined and constantly shifting enemy. Today it's Al-Qaida; tomorrow it may be Afghanistan; next year, it could be Iraq or Cuba or Chechnya.
   --Jacob Levich (Common Dreams 9/22/2001).

Actually, we would enlist the drug cartels. They have the three attributes we need: They know how to operate as a covert network and how to root out a competing network, such as Mr. bin Laden's. They can be bought and know how to buy others. And they understand that when we say we want someone "dead or alive" we mean "dead or dead."
   --Thomas L. Friedman (NYTimes 9/28/2001).

Oversimplified, the CIA's primary global foreign policy method is to gain influence and control by whatever means necessary. To be a bit more clear, let's compare civilian police against covert operatives. In police work, law enforcement dealings with underworld elements are always difficult and wraught with ethical problems, but civilian police are subject to rules and oversight. Conversely, the CIA is comparatively unencumbered by the rules that govern civilian police corps, and suffers little Congressional oversight. The result of this extreme freedom in executing policy, is that the CIA's official and unofficial operatives involved in its covert operations division are free to pursue military objectives with whatever means they see fit.

These operatives are covert warriors, they are key in expanding the US sphere of influence. In order for covert actions to be effective politically and militarily, the CIA employs parts of the underworld as its operatives (like the thousand foreign agents mentioned above). After all, who knows the political and social terrain better than the local mob? But, once employed by the CIA, these criminal enterprises naturally expect some kind of quid-pro-quo, and in order to concentrate power via its foriegn underworld proxies, the CIA has to find ways to reward and empower its criminal proxies. If the CIA really wants to gain influence and control in countries and economies via alliances with underground criminal enterprises, and if these alliances entail protecting drug piplines, well, the end justifies the means.
   --CIA & Drugs: An Introduction ( Also: Bibliography of Covert Operations in Afghanistan 1992-1996.

[Afghanistan]: world's largest illicit opium producer, surpassing Burma (potential production in 1999 - 1,670 metric tons; cultivation in 1999 - 51,500 hectares, a 23% increase over 1998); a major source of hashish; increasing number of heroin-processing laboratories being set up in the country; major political factions in the country profit from drug trade
   --CIA Factbook ( Afghanistan).

The BBC's correspondent Kate Clark says that the Taleban's ban on opium cultivation last year is likely to be another topic of discussion at the meeting.

Before the ban it was estimated that Afghanistan produced three quarters of the world's supply, and farmers have now lost their major industry.

Afghan poppy farmers have lost four fifths of their income by switching to other crops. Many have been left indebted - some have had to sell land.
   --Media Awareness Project (6/8/2001).

Shock waves from a dramatic drop in Afghanistan's opium production are beginning to reverberate throughout Central Asia's drug trafficking networks. Street prices for heroin in Eurasian and European markets have remained stable, indicating that the cutback in opium supplies still has not hit drug consumers. But specialists in drug trafficking say that Afghanistan's ban on poppy cultivation can be expected to result in a drop in opium supplies and, consequently, to send prices for opium-based drugs skyrocketing in the year ahead. Central Asian drug traffickers are already reportedly engaged in what Russian Mafia bosses describe as a major "razborka"-- a weeding out of suppliers, transporters, and marketers in new, much fiercer market conditions....

Afghanistan has emerged as the world’s top source of opium. Initially, poppy cultivation was concentrated in Kandahar and Helmand regions in central and southern Afghanistan, areas under the control of the Taliban. But by the late 1990s poppy cultivation spread to northern regions, in territory dominated by the Taliban's chief opponents, the Northern Alliance. This change in cultivation patterns led the UN's Drug Control and Crime Prevention office to warn that Central Asia was becoming a preferred "transit zone for opium and heroin trafficking." (5/29/2001).

The Golden Crescent that encompasses the poppy producing areas of Southwest Asia is one of the world's main sources of illicit opiates. Afghanistan and Pakistan are both opium-producing countries. Following the 1979 revolution, Iran's opium poppy crop was largely eradicated though some minor residual amounts may be grown on a non-commercial scale....

Processing and trafficking problems affect the region and the wider world beyond. Most processing takes place in small, mobile laboratories in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas although increasing instances of processing on the Afghan border with the Central Asian Republics have been reported. The subregion itself has become a major consumer market for opiates produced. Opiate processing on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border has created a trafficking and, importantly in the case of Pakistan, a drug abuse problem especially since the early 1980s.
   --UN Office of Drug Control & Crime Prevention (Overview 9/27/2001).

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Congress is considering anti-terrorism legislation that could seriously weaken civil liberties in the U.S. Yet the three major networks' nightly news shows have done little reporting on the issue.
   --(FAIR 9/27/2001).

This page is dedicated to the plight of the Afghan Woman. Currently, there are thousands of widows in the capital of Afghanistan. Women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe, denied access to education & proper health care, forbidden to work in order to support their families, and face brutal beatings if they do not comply with the rules set forth for them by their oppressors. The world needs to know about this tragedy; our hope is that this page will become a good source of recent news and information pertaining to the current struggle women in Afghanistan are facing. The current oppression of women in Afghanistan is due to politics and ignorance, not Islam!
   --Afghanistan Online (Women).
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
845-575-3000 x2217


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