Sunday, December 17, 2006

Afghan drug lords our allies, U.S official says

The reason the U.S. military has not taken steps against the Afghan drug lords is that "these are the guys who helped us liberate this place in 2001," according to an unnamed U.S. official quoted by Ann Jones in today's San Francisco Chronicle. Jones, a women's rights and education worker who just returned after four years in Afghanistan, says that at least half of the Afghan legislative assembly is composed of people with a probable drug trade connection.

Jones confirms earlier accounts that the CIA introduced poppy growing in Afghanistan to finance the anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s, and provided legal cover for the heroin-refining, shipping, and marketing operation. The Taliban takeover virtually killed this business, but when the fundamentalist Muslim regime was driven out by the U.S. -led invasion in 2001, the drug lords came back.

Jones estimates that the small percentage of revenue from the drug trade that remains in Afghanistan makes up more than 60 per cent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product, and is more than twice as much as the amount of reconstruction aid promised by the United States -- "most of which never reached the country anyway." Read details.

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