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Bush-Bin Laden Black Market Heroin Set to Boom in Afghanistan

by : BombShelter.org
Monday August 6, 2007 - 07:07

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disk players and electrical tin openers...choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on the couch, watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing lke that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?!

Record poppy crop to be harvested in Afghanistan By Matthew Lee Associated Press Saturday, August 4, 2007

WASHINGTON - Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world’s near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say.

As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.

U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan’s poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world’s crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics said.

But counterdrug proposals by some U.S. officials have met fierce resistance, including boosting the amount of forcible poppy field destruction in provinces that grow the most, officials said. The approach also would link millions of dollars in development aid to benchmarks on eradication; arrests and prosecutions of narcotraders, corrupt officials; and on alternative crop production.

"Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world’s heroin," the State Department’s top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."

Almost all the heroin from Afghanistan makes its way to Europe; most of the heroin in the U.S. comes from Latin America.

Afghanistan last year accounted for 92 percent of global opium production, compared with 70 percent in 2000 and 52 percent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought world production to a record high of 7,286 tons in 2006, 43 percent more than in 2005.

A State Department inspector general’s report released Friday noted that the counternarcotics assistance is dwarfed by the estimated $38 billion "street value" of Afghanistan’s poppy crop, if all is converted to heroin, and said eradication goals were "not realistic."

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/080507/news_20070805045.shtml

"Narcotics have been systematically scapegoated and demonized. The idea that anyone can use drugs and escape a horrible fate is an anathema to these idiots. I predict that in the near future right-wingers will use drug hysteria as a pretext to set up an international police apparatus."
— William S. Burroughs
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disk players and electrical tin openers...choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on the couch, watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing lke that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?!

US weighs role in heroin war in Afghanistan By Anne Barnard and Farah Stockman

KABUL, Afghanistan — The burgeoning illegal opium trade in Afghanistan has become the biggest single threat to democracy, surpassing Al Qaeda and the Taliban and prompting US officials to consider military intervention against the traffickers, US and Afghan officials say.

Even as the Bush administration hails Afghanistan as a major foreign policy success, the country’s soaring drug profits now equal about half of its gross national product and have become the principal source of funds for reconstruction, outpacing foreign aid. The drug trade also is fueling corruption at the highest levels of the government, involving army generals and other top officials who routinely work with the US military on antiterrorism operations, according to the officials.

In Washington yesterday, the senior American ground commander in Afghanistan said the United States is considering expanding the role of the roughly 18,000 American troops in the country to help crack down on the skyrocketing drug economy.

"We’re assessing exactly how the military’s role may be reshaped as we go into this coming year, given the significant threat that drugs is making to the future of Afghanistan," Army Lieutenant General David Barno told reporters. "We’re assessing right now how the military will be able to . . . provide further assistance in that fight."

US military commanders have sharpened their focus on the opium poppy trade — which produces 75 percent of the world’s opium and its derivative, heroin — and plan to target militia commanders who profit from trafficking.

For instance, Hazrat Ali, a former Afghan commander paid by American forces to help fight Al Qaeda, is now widely cited by US and Afghan officials as a key opium trafficker. He is also the police chief of Jalalabad.

"One day, he will wake up and find out he’s out of business," Colonel David Lamm, chief of staff for US forces in Afghanistan, said of Ali in a recent interview in Kabul, the capital. "We know where the drug traffic moves, we know who profits, and we are beginning to deal with it."

The approach is a shift for the Pentagon, which has been hesitant to involve the US military in drug-enforcement efforts because its main mission is to combat terrorism. Currently, the standing order to ground troops is to destroy drugs only when encountering them during military operations and not to take initiative on their own against drug warehouses or laboratories. US soldiers routinely have let trucks full of poppies pass on the road once it was clear they weren’t transporting Al Qaeda.

"It’s only since July that Americans have begun to see the importance of dealing with warlords," said a senior European diplomat in Kabul, on condition of anonymity. "One reason why I’m slightly optimistic about Afghanistan is that the American government appears to have woken up in the last few months to the problem of drugs and the relations of drugs to the power of warlords and commanders."

When US troops first entered Afghanistan in October 2001, they found themselves in a bind: They knew local commanders were involved in a centuries-old drug trade, but they needed help in winning the war against the Taliban.

Major James Hawver, a reservist in Jalalabad in 2002, said Ali’s blessing made it easier for US troops to operate in his area.

"He was sort of our benefactor," Hawver said. "He let it be known that if anybody messed with us he’d deal with them." But pressure has been mounting for over a year for the Department of Defense to take more action against traffickers. US Representative Henry J. Hyde, an Illinois Republican, has written to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asking for more intervention and asserting that heroin profits are funding weapons for terrorists and insurgents.

Others argue that Afghanistan’s new police and judicial systems are no match for the drug economy, which has become an integral part of the country’s much-touted rebirth and the income of too many powerful people.

"I am increasingly worried that the whole economy, the whole social fabric, is going to be dominated by the drug question," said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. "Just like people can be addicted to drugs, countries can be addicted to a drug economy. That’s what I am seeing in Afghanistan."

In recent years, it is most often drug money — not foreign aid — that has financed shiny new vehicles in towns that had only known donkey traffic and mobile phone communications systems in places that had never had electricity, Costa said.

In 2002 and 2003, income from opium reached $4.8 billion, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, nearly twice that of income from international aid for projects that began in that time period. Next year, it is expected to climb even higher, as two out of three farmers questioned by a United Nations survey said they planned to significantly increase their opium crop.

"Drugs are the principle sources of reconstruction money, far outweighing combined international assistance," said James Dobbins, Bush’s special envoy for Afghanistan in 2001.

Much of the country’s tax revenues come from the import of vehicles and other expensive goods, largely purchased with drug profits.

President Hamid Karzai, whose newborn central government lacks the reach to confront the problem, told a donors conference in April that "drugs in Afghanistan are threatening the very existence of the Afghan state."

Karzai blamed drug smugglers — not Al Qaeda or the Taliban — for the attack in September on his vice president, one of the few instances of election violence.

Drugs threaten democracy in other ways. While the slate of candidates in the recent presidential election was largely free of drug connections, local parliamentary elections scheduled for this spring are expected to feature a large number of candidates involved in the trade.

"It’s not merely about drug money financing candidates. Drug lords are candidates," said Mark Schneider, president of International Crisis Group.

On the road to the northern village of Balkh, the return of the drug economy — once severely curtailed by the Taliban — is no secret. Forests of marijuana plants line both sides of the highway. Their pungent smell penetrates passing cars even with the windows shut. The more profitable opium poppy fields lie farther from the road, but their products aren’t hard to find.

Kamaluddin Kuchai, a retired small-time commander in the war against the Soviet occupation and the devastating militia battles that followed, says he makes 10 times more growing opium poppies than he would growing wheat, the other major crop in the region.

"When we grow other crops, I cannot earn a living," he said. "We don’t do it because we like it, but because we have no other choice."

Kuchai, who is 49 but looks much older with his gray beard and lined face, invited visitors into his tiny sitting room and brought out a plastic sack that made a squelching sound as he laid it on the carpet. Inside was a brown paste the consistency of cake batter, raw sap from his poppy fields. A kilo brings between 3,000 and 12,000 afghanis, or $60 to $240, depending on the quality, he said.

Poppy sap and marijuana are traded openly in Balkh’s central marketplace, along a road ringing a circular park where tall trees shelter a 500-year-old shrine, he said.

Kuchai and his friends describe a business that involves most of the community: The police chief’s son charges a tax on all sales.

This past July, in a rare move, the police chief in Balkh seized a cache of drugs and accused a powerful local commander of trafficking. But instead of being punished, the commander, Atta Muhammad, was swiftly promoted. His new job: governor of Balkh Province.

Bryan Bender of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Washington. Barnard reported from Afghanistan; Stockman from Washington.

US and Britain accused of creating heroin trail

War on terrorism: Drugs Trade By Raymond Whitaker in Islamabad

Pakistan’s hapless army of three million drug addicts has found that the price of oblivion has halved since the world was thrown into crisis on 11 September. Some of the purest heroin in the world, produced just over the border in Afghanistan, can be had in the streets of Peshawar, Quetta and other cities for as little as 20p a gram.

The sudden torrent of heroin, opium and hashish is being described as the Afghan regime’s ultimate weapon. Afghanistan is already responsible for three-quarters of the world’s heroin exports, and the Taliban have threatened that if they are attacked, they will lift a ban on opium poppy production in the areas they control.

But as Tony Blair may have discovered during his visit here yesterday, few issues in this region are simple, least of all the drugs trade. When they banned poppy growing, the Taliban were accused of cynically attempting to manipulate the drugs market by squeezing supplies. Now, it is claimed, the Afghan regime is flooding the market. The price of a kilogram of opium in Pakistan soared from $44 (£30) to $400 after the ban and before 11 September. Immediately afterwards, it surged further to $746 before slumping dramatically.

Asked to explain the sudden fall in the street price of heroin, a narcotics official said it could indicate sales by terrorists needing to finance their operations because their bank accounts had been frozen across the world. But at the same time, he added, it was the probable result of a market decision by thousands of smaller players seeking to sell stocks while they could.

"Drugs are a currency in Afghanistan and border areas of Pakistan," he said. "Farmers, traders and ordinary people keep drugs in their homes rather than money in the bank. Today we are in a war situation, so what do people do? They go to the market and sell their assets to realise cash, just as people in the West sell shares."

Britain has just released a detailed indictment of Osama bin Laden, his al-Qa’ida network and their Taliban protectors, which accuses them of jointly exploiting the drugs trade. American officials agree, and have leaked a sensational though thinly substantiated claim that Mr bin Laden’s group tried to develop a "super-powerful" brand of heroin that would enslave Western addicts yet further. They admit, however, that proof that either the Taliban or al-Qa’ida actually control the trade is hard to find.

When the Taliban swept to power in Afghanistan in 1996, the drugs industry was already well established. The movement imposed taxes on poppy cultivation, just like the ones that existed for other crops, and charged fees for narcotics production, which brought in $15m to $27m annually, according to a United Nations report. Just over a year ago it finally fulfilled its promises to stamp out poppy growing, reducing production from 3,100 tons in 2000 to virtually nothing in the first half of this year, again according to the United Nations.

But the criminal gangs in charge of refining and distribution remain powerful, and the Taliban did nothing to stop the production and export of heroin from existing stockpiles. The threat to allow poppies to grow again could be a sign of the movement’s weakness rather than its strength, observers say. It may be seeking to regain lost support from farmers angered by the ban. One source said confiscated weapons had been returned to farmers in an effort to enlist them in a struggle against any US-led attack.

Before the present intelligence offensive, attempts to link Mr bin Laden directly to drugs had been vague. Congressional staff in Washington who had seen the files said he did not actually traffic in drugs, but made money from the trade by hiring out his fighters to guard refineries and escort convoys on their way out through Iran. The Taliban rake off money from drugs in similar ways. A report to the House of Commons accuses them of protecting stockpiles – but the narcotics official scoffed at the idea of "mullahs selling heroin".

There is also the uncomfortable fact that almost half the heroin flowing out of Afghanistan is thought to come from areas controlled by the Northern Alliance, the West’s putative partner in the campaign to oust the Taliban. Any expansion of the alliance’s territory could see an increase in the drugs supply.

In his meeting last night with Mr Blair, Pakistan’s military President, General Pervez Musharraf, would have been entitled to point out to his visitor that the drugs trade had its origins in the war against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Afghan mujahedin, with the full knowledge of the intelligence agencies of America, Britain and other allies, refined and exported heroin – previously unknown in this part of the world – to finance their struggle. Evidence even exists that the CIA encouraged the spread of hard drugs to demoralise Russian troops. Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disk players and electrical tin openers...choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on the couch, watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing lke that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?!

Interview with Alfred McCoy, professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade Barsamian: Was the anti-communist ideology so powerful and so strong that the CIA would risk the worldwide opprobrium of being linked with drug trafficking? Why would they take that risk?

McCoy: It’s easy. Look, it’s effective. I interviewed a guy named Lt. Col Lucien Conein who, since I published my book now despises me, and I asked Col Conein why they worked with the Corsicans in Saigon, for example. He said that there aren’t very many groups that know the clandestine arts. When you think about the essential skills it takes to have an extra-legal operation - to have somebody killed, to mobilize a crowd, to do what it does when societies are in flux, when power is unclear and to be grabbed and shaped and molded into a new state - you want to overthrow a government and put a new one in - how do you do it? Who does this? Accountants? - They go to the office every day. Students? They go to classes - they’re good for maybe one riot or something, but they’ve got to get on to medical school or law or whatever they’re doing. Where do you get people who have this kind of skill? You have your own operatives and they’re limited. Particularly if you’re a foreigner, your capacity to move something in the streets is very limited. You know, sometimes you can turn to a state intelligence agency in a country you’re working with, but most effectively you can turn to the underworld. That’s why the CIA always worked very effectively with the warlords of the Golden Triangle. It’s worked very effectively with Corsican syndicates in Europe, worked very effectively and continuously with American Mafia - because they have the same clandestine arts. They operate with the same techniques.

And they have the same kind of amorality. They are natural allies. There was a conversion of cultures between the milieu of the underworld and the world of the clandestine operative.

You’ve got, then, a CIA secret war which in an essential way, in a fundamental way is linked with the opium traffic. More than that, it appears that a number of CIA operatives as individuals got involved. They started smuggling, started wheeling, started dealing and started doing a couple of bags here and there. We know, for example, there’s a famous case of a CIA global money-moving bank called the Nugan-Hand bank which was established in Australia. The founder of that was a Michael John Hand. He was a green beret who was a contract CIA operative in Laos. When he first came to Australia in 1969-1970 Australian federal police got intelligence on him - I’ve seen the files - saying that what he’s basically doing is he’s bringing down light aircraft that are flying from Thailand to northern Australia into those abandoned air strips that were left over from World War II and he’s dealing heroin. That’s what Michael John Hand, according to Australian federal police intelligence, was doing. So, as individuals CIA operatives were getting involved and more or less what you’ve got then as a result of Laos is that the policy of integrating intelligence and cover operations with narcotics gets established.

You get, then, an entire generation of covert action warriors used to dealing with narcotics as a matter of policy. In short, you get a policy and personnel which integrates covert action with narcotics. This manifests itself in a number of ways. First of all the Nugan-Hand bank. Not only was it moving money globally for the CIA, but it was the major money laundering conduit that was trimming funds up to Southeast Asia from Australia and linking the Golden Triangle heroin trade of Southeast Asia with the urban markets of Australia. In Afghanistan as well, this same distributing pattern that we saw in Laos emerges.

This is one case that hasn’t been well studied. I’ve spoken to one correspondent for the Far East Economic Review which is a Dow-Jones Publication, Mr. Lawrence Lifschultz(?), a friend of mine, and what he found was something of a similar pattern that I found in Laos. He was a correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the Mujahadeen campaign and he wrote articles in the Nation and elsewhere describing this similar pattern. You’ve got Pakistani government officials very heavily involved in narcotics, you’ve got the Mujahadeen manufacturing heroin, they’re exporting it to Europe and the United States. They’re using it to support their guerrilla campaign. the Pakistanis and the CIA are complicitous on the level of (1) not doing anything or (2) actually getting involved in the case of some of the Pakistani elite. So, it’s a case where the Mujahadee operation becomes ultimately integrated with the narcotics trade and the CIA is fully informed of the integration and doesn’t do anything about it.

Moving on to our fourth instance, one close to home, is the whole Iran-contra operation.

First of all, I think the Laos parallel is very strong in the Iran-contra operation. Just in the formal outlines of the policy - you know, you’ve got the contras on the border of Nicaragua, they’re a mercenary army, they’re supported through a humanitarian operation, they’re given U.S. logistic support, they’re given U.S. equipment and they’re given U.S. air power backup to deliver the equipment and the logistic support. All the personnel that are involved in that operation are Laos veterans. Ted Shackley, Thomas Clines, Oliver North, Richard Secord - they all served in Laos during thirteen-year war. They are all part of that policy of integrating narcotics and being complicitous in the narcotics trade in the furtherance of covert action.

In this case, what I think we can see is it’s not just the same. It’s not just simply that the CIA was complicitous in allowing the contras to deal in cocaine, to serve as a link between the Andes and across the Caribbean into the United States. I think we can see the situation has gotten worse. In Laos, as I said, the CIA was hands-off. Once it got beyond their secret base, they wouldn’t touch it. They gave Vang Pao the aircraft and once it got any further they didn’t really know about it and didn’t want to know about it. They remained ignorant about it. And ultimately what you’re looking at was a traffic that was in a remote region which, in a way I don’t think the CIA saw was going to happen, wound up serving Americans. An estimate of 50% of U.S. combat forces in Vietnam taking drugs, that was common at that time. But it’s still remote and it’s still not going directly into the United States.

The level of cynicism in Central America is even worse. We’re not talking about original traffic or moving the raw product - we’re talking about taking finished cocaine, providing aircraft, moreover providing protection for these traffickers as they fly across the Caribbean with these massive loads of cocaine. Now, I don’t know. Can one estimate what percentage of the cocaine was politically protected by these intelligence operations. Until there’s a formal investigation, which there’s not likely to be, it’s difficult to say.

I think that one can say that as you look at the drugs flowing into the United States during the 1960s when this Lao operation was going, there was probably a much smaller percentage of narcotics entering the United States from politically protected brokers than there is today. In other words, this CIA policy of integrating covert action operations with narcotics, both at a level of individuals being involved and also just turning a blind eye to the fact that our allies are drug brokers, this complicity in the narcotics trade has gotten worse. It’s closer to home. It’s not moving the raw material out in the jungles, it’s actually bringing the finished narcotics, cocaine, into the United States. So it’s gotten that much closer to home and that much more cynical.

Barsamian: In your view, there will be a marked increase and expansion of drug addiction and drug use in the United States, Europe and Australia - Incidentally, earlier you mentioned that the drug flow went into Europe and Australia, but not into Japan, is that correct?

McCoy: Yes.

Barsamian: Why not?

McCoy: The relationship between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (the conservatives) and the big organized crime syndicates, which are enormous in Japan, is a very tight one and has been historically since the end of World War II. There’s been a very close integration with the organized crime operations and the ruling conservative party. The conservatives have been in power now in Japan since 1948. It’s one of the longest reigns of any party anywhere in the world. There’s a kind of entente, an understanding between the syndicates and the government - it’s not rigid - but the basic understanding is no drugs. That’s the basic thing. Don’t move drugs. And the Japanese police are ruthlessly efficient. If any of the syndicates, any of the big families - some of them have 10,000 members in them - broke this rule, the police have sufficient mechanisms of control to punish them for it. So in this complex politics of organized crime in Japan, they can do prostitution, they can do all kinds of fraud, they can do many things - but not drugs. So Japan’s never opened up.

DeGaulle had a very similar relationship with the Corsican syndicates during his reign in the 1960s and early 1970s. The understanding was that the Corsican syndicates in Marseilles would manufacture in Marseilles under protection. But they would not sell in France. They would only export to the United States. That began to break down. DeGaulle died, Pompidoux replaced him and the Gaullists lost power, there was pressure on the syndicates, some new groups came in and started breaking the rule, and France wound up with a drug problem. But for practically a decade that rule held.

http://www.lycaeum.org/drugwar/DARKALLIANCE/

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disk players and electrical tin openers...choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on the couch, watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing lke that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?!

Taliban prepare to unleash their deadliest weapon in War on terrorism: Drugs By Raymond Whitaker in Peshawar

Sohrab, an Afghan refugee, stared listlessly from the culvert where he and his companion had taken the heroin they had just bought. The other man was holding a match to a piece of silvered paper, waiting for the fumes to start rising.

"You can see the dealers down there," said Dr Shah Agha Saadat, head of a drop-in centre for street addicts where Sohrab is registered, pointing to a couple of men who sauntered round the corner when they noticed our interest. Every few yards along the road, addicts were lying in the dust.

Dr Saadat had taken us out into the street, a couple of hundred yards into Pakistan’s lawless tribal territories, to show us what he called a graveyard for former addicts. I had been expecting a corner of a field with a few whitewashed stones to mark their final resting-place. Instead he indicated a strip of recently-turned earth beside the road, only feet from where Sohrab was crouching. "This is where we bury them if they have no family to take them," he said. "There are 25 in there."

Opium poppies have always been grown on both sides of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, but the region did not become the world’s main exporter of heroin until the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 brought near-anarchy. Production and refining exploded as the Afghan mujahedin, with the connivance of Western intelligence agencies, traded in drugs to finance their war against the Russians, with results that can be seen in the streets of Western cities as well as Peshawar.

The culture of narcotics, guns and criminality has taken a terrible toll in Pakistan, where there are more than three million heroin addicts and several senior politicians, military officers and policemen have been implicated in drug-running. Most of the drugs which reach the West now go out through Iran, which has half a million addicts of its own. But even though Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan have almost stamped out poppy growing in the areas they control, the Afghan regime has done nothing to stop the refining and export of heroin from huge stockpiles within their borders.

A diplomatic source in Pakistan said: "The drugs trade continues to finance not only the Taliban, but the terrorism their friend Osama bin Laden carries out around the world. If we had spent more on drugs intelligence, we would have known more about terrorism as well, and that would have enabled us to put greater pressure on the Taliban and Mr bin Laden."

A collapse of the Taliban, however, could lead to a sharp rise in poppy growing in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance, which is hoping for international aid in its five-year campaign to drive out the Taliban, recently staged a public burning of opium for Western television cameras, but the United Nations Drugs Control Project (UNDCP) is expected to report shortly that it has made no effort to stop the production, refining and export of heroin from its territory.

The Taliban themselves are threatening to allow the resumption of poppy cultivation if the Americans attack. According to Lateef Afridi, a Pakistani politician whose base is among the tribal Pashtun on both sides of the border, it may already have done so. "The ban on poppy growing was very unpopular, and right now the Taliban need friends," Mr Afridi told The Independent. "In the past few days I have heard that the Taliban have not only lifted the ban, they have given the farmers back the weapons they confiscated from them."

The crisis since the attacks in the US has halted a $1.5m UNDCP scheme to give immediate aid to Afghan farmers who had ceased poppy cultivation, heightening their incentive to start again. "There are very serious doubts about the future," said Bernard Frahi, head of the UNDCP in Islamabad. "We are seeing all the ingredients for illicit opium cultivation: civil war, an absence of law and order and no alternative for farmers. The criminal gangs which control the refining and shipment of heroin are still very much in place.

"Opium provides credit and savings for farmers, while wheat fetches only two thirds of the price, and there is no guarantee that you can sell your crop when it is ready. If farmers have a choice, they grow opium."

Many of the people seen by the Dost Foundation, a Pakistani charity which specialises in fighting heroin addiction, became hooked by the fumes in the refineries of Afghanistan. Apart from its centre for street addicts, the organisation runs projects for drug victims and their families. But it can treat only a tiny proportion of the region’s vast army of addicts.

"The number is still rising, however much we try to get it down, because the supply of heroin is still so high," said Dr Saadat. The project treats the addicts’ many skin, eye and digestive ailments, gives them a place to wash, dispenses tea and tries to warn them about the rising dangers of hepatitis and Aids. The increasing minority of addicts who inject can get disposable syringes as well.

Sohrab may well end up buried by the side of the street he frequents, but every month the project sends about 15 street addicts for rehabilitation. The man who goes out to try to persuade them to clean up is Bahar Ahmed Arbab, who used to be hooked on muffara – a fearsome combination of opium, Mandrax and hashish seeds. "It was so powerful that someone once shot me when I was high, and I didn’t notice," he says with a grin, pulling up his shalwar kameez to show off the scar. "When addicts say it’s difficult to give up, I tell them I’m a role model. If I can do it, anyone can."

"There is always a need for intoxication: China has opium, Islam has hashish, the West has woman."
— André Malraux

Why is Half of Iraq in Absolute Poverty "This is the first time I’ve read anything by Layla Anwar (see end for bio). This is one of the most moving articles I’ve ever read---it makes me as an American feel so helpless, and ashamed. Because I know I would feel as angry as Layla does if I were in her shoes. This is an intelligent, passionate woman, who speaks for all of the women of Iraq." Dr. Reese Kilgo, Retired Professor, University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)

Why Is Half Of Iraq In Absolute Poverty? by Layla Anwar, August 3, 2007 Information Clearing House

Why? Yes why? What for? What does it say about you? What does it say about your countries? What does it say about your institutions? What does it say about your governments, your "culture", your "civilization", your history, your "progress", your "values", your concepts...?

Have you ever stopped and pondered these questions? Have you ever stopped and asked yourselves; how come? How come we are so advanced, how come we are so democratic, how come we are so great, how come we are so free... And how come we allow so much murder, oppression, abuse, go unaccounted for? Have you ever asked yourself this question?

I was just listening to the BBC World radio. A report from Oxfam - and in your eyes that makes it credible - over 70 % of us Iraqis, no longer have access to clean drinking water. I say no longer have because I remember not so long ago, one could turn on the tap and drink. As simple as that. The report goes on to say that over 50% of Iraqis are undernourished and 1 out of 3 is literally starving. And that 50% live in abject poverty. 50% !!!

Again, I remember a time, even during the "civilized" sanctions that your countries imposed upon us, everyone had something to eat. Not much, but there was food. The Iraqi government had developed a system of rationing that, to this day, still leaves your top U.N reps in awe. When I mention that in my posts, I am accused of waging a war of disinformation, psy-ops and being a paid agent.

Listening to a Concerned Arab Woman

Now you listen to me and you get off your butts and read. Educate yourselves, oh great people of the West. A few years back, you could not even locate Iraq on a map. Now you have all suddenly become experts on Her.

Prior to your liberation, there was no starvation in Iraq. Prior to your liberation, there was no abject poverty, the kind we witness today. Prior to your liberation, kids did not stutter out of fear. Prior to your liberation, they went to free schools, learned, grew up and became fully functioning adults, with degrees, diplomas and expertise. No, we did not have learning impediments before your liberation. Today 92 % of Iraqi children suffer from it. Today, 99% of Iraqi children are traumatized for life.

So I ask you again - Why? What have Iraqis done to you? Did they invade you? Did they steal your homes? Did they imprison you? Did they torture you? Did they rape you? Did they occupy your lands? Of course, some of you will come and present me with your usual condescending, paternalistic, patronizing lists of political theories, attempting to explain the inexplicable.

Save your time and energy. I know all about your theories. I know all about your theories of imperialism, neo-cons, Zionists... I also know all about your handy explanations regarding oil, cartels, monopolies, globalization... None of that satisfies me. I still need to know why?

Why us? Why Iraq? Why this? Why now? If you fail to answer that question, then you would have not learned one single thing about yourselves. And I say yourselves, because your governments are a reflection of who you are, your aspirations, your mindsets, your thinking, your illusions...You are part of it and it is part of you.

And all I can see right now are nothing but murderous thoughts - yours. A few days ago, I was reading an article about a French film producer called Alain Tasma who has just finished directing a film on the Rwandan Genocide.

During "Operation Turquoise", between 700’000 and 900’000 Rwandans perished. None of you, not a single one of you, had any objections to calling it a Genocide. It was a given, it was accepted, it was fact. And rightly so, because it was a genocide. But when it comes to Iraq, all sorts of counter figures pop up. All kinds of other statistics are put forward to try to prove "well, yes but"...

Continuation of Genocide

Again my question is why? Why did you accept it without questions in the case of Rwanda, why did you accept it without questions in the case of the Holocaust, why is it when it comes to Arabs and Arab Muslims in particular, it becomes a topic for debate and nit picking? And "it" refers to Genocide.

Can you answer this question? Why is it that what happened over 60 years ago in your lands, still makes you grovel in mortification and supplications of forgiveness but when it comes to us, you have so many "red flags"? Your phrases are almost always qualified with a "yes but..."

What does that tell me about you? It tells me exactly what I said earlier on, you and your governments are one and the same. And you will come and say "yes but... I did not vote", "yes but, I sent an email", "yes but....yes but...yes but..."

I don’t care for your "yes buts". I truly don’t. And that applies to all of you. All of you whose governments have a finger in the Iraqi pie.

If you had really wanted, you could have easily gone out en masse, in front of your government’s offices... If only 5 million of you, not more, only 5 million, had done that and had thrown your passports in a huge bonfire in front of your White house, 10 Downing Street or wherever the hell you happen to be, then I am sure, we would not be experiencing what we are experiencing now.

There are also mass pickets, sit ins, huge demonstrations, strikes... There are ways, many ways. You just need to get your "creativity" going. Or maybe you are just creative in killing us? I don’t care much for your opinions and comments anymore. Actually I don’t give a damn. All I know is that you have participated directly or indirectly in the crime. That is all I know.

But there is still a little hope left. Go and sit with yourself for a little while and ask yourself why and then ask yourself what am I supposed to do next?

I can assure you, answers will come to you. For those of you who prefer to sit and engage in quid pro quos of ifs and buts, then I can already tell you in advance, you are a hopeless case. And I will not even bother to ask why.

Layla Anwar, Who am I? The eternal Question. Have not figured it out fully yet. All you need to know about me is that I am a Middle Easterner, an Arab Woman - into my 40’s and old enough to know better. I have no homeland per se. I live in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Egypt simultaneously.... All the rest is icing on the cake. "I read some of the Comments on this article. The one below from Susan is the best one I found, and is partly what I would reply. But I know it’s only trying to explain, to say "I’m doing all I can. I wish I could do more. I wish five million of us would and could go to Washington and burn our passports on the Capitol lawn, storm the White House." Dr. Reese Kilgo, Retired Professor, University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)

"I think there were 5 million of us in the USA protesting in Feb 2003. There were 10 million world-wide. The five million was spread out across the country, and there was no passport bonfire. I know lots of people gave up on protesting after that. I didn’t. I do it regularly in town and I have gone to DC eight times in the last four years to protest the war on Iraq. And it certainly is a genocide.’’ Susan 08.01.07 - 5:30 pm

"Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disk players and electrical tin openers...choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on the couch, watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing lke that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?" Irvine Welsh TRAINSPOTTING



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