The opium/heroin market continues to expand on the production side. Demand is stable overall but increases have occured in important areas.
Overall, global cultivation remains just below 1998 levels.
The total area under illicit opium poppy cultivation increased by 17% in 2007 fuelled by increases in both Afghanistan and Myanmar. The cultivation increase in Afghanistan continued a six year trend and that of Myanmar reversed a six year trend. Both are cause for concern.
The opium/heroin market continues to be dominated by the large levels of cultivation and production in Afghanistan. While the very positive contraction in the number of opium producing provinces continued in 2007, market trends are not yielding much good news.
In fact, the trends appear to indicate two negative developments including, first, some adaptation in trafficking routes to the concentration of cultivation in the South of Afghanistan and second, an increase in opiate consumption in and around Afghanistan.
Why is Obama expanding the war in Afghanistan?
Written by www.daily.pk
Sunday, 22 February 2009 19:09
On February 15, 1989, General Boris Gromov led his 40th Soviet Army out of Afghanistan, marking the end of Moscow’s bloody and disastrous occupation. In the process, some 1.5mn Afghans died at the hands of the Red Army and Afghan Communists.
The new Soviet chairman, Mikhail Gorbachev, determined the Afghan war, begun by his dim predecessor, Leonid Brezhnev, and a cabal of party and KGB hardliners, could not be won.
Fortunately for the world, Gorbachev, proved a leader of profound humanity, decency, and intellect. Gorbachev, courageously accepted defeat and brought his soldiers home. Soon after, the Soviet Union, a bankrupt empire held together by fear and repression, began to crumble. To his eternal credit, Gorbachev refused to employ force to hold the Soviet Empire together.
The new president of the bankrupt American imperium should heed Gorbachev’s wisdom. Barack Obama’s inauguration offered a perfect opportunity to pause the US-led Afghan War, and open talks with Afghan groups resisting foreign occupation (both the Soviets and US branded them `terrorists’). Instead, Obama vowed to intensify the eight-year war which has so far cost the $62bn.
President Obama declared he will send 17,000 more US troops to Afghanistan on top of the 6,000 troops dispatched by George Bush. Another 13,000 will follow in the spring. These reinforcements are supposed to come from the US Iraq garrison. But Pentagon hardliners and their Republican allies are trying to delay or thwart the troop drawdown from Iraq.
So, it’s welcome to President Obama’s War. Obama just defined his goals in Afghanistan as: “preventing it from being used as a launching pad for attacks on North America”; and “defeating Al Qaeda”. He also allowed that some sort of negotiations to split Taliban might be attempted.
Both stated goals are patently false. September 11 was organised in Germany and Spain, allegedly by a group of Saudis and Pakistanis. Attacks on New York, Washington, London, Madrid and Mumbai were plotted in apartments and houses, not the mountains of Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda never had more than 300 men and is today reduced to a handful of fugitives hiding in Pakistan’s tribal territories and Baluchistan.
The movement’s primary function, as my new book explains, was as a guest house and data base for foreign mujahedin fighting the Soviets and Afghan Communists. It was not and is not a “world-wide terrorist organisation”.
By expanding the Afghan war, Obama fuels the growing threat of a major explosion in Pakistan. Today, US warplanes and CIA killer drones operate from three secret Pakistani air bases.
Washington has rented 120,000 Pakistani troops for $100mn monthly (plus equally large, secret CIA payments) to support the US occupation of Afghanistan.
In an unprecedented act, Pakistan’s government is being paid by Washington to attack its own people, and to allow US forces to do the same.
Pakistan is bankrupt. The previous US-backed Musharraf regime made off with whatever money there was. Yet at some point, Pakistan’s rent-an-army of modern-day sepoys may rebel and turn against the government that orders it to kill fellow Muslims while letting India expand its influence in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, high expectations for Obama are fading. To the anguish of America’s anti-war movement, his administration seems set on continuing many of the illegal, repressive policies of the disgraced Bush White House that it had vowed to end: torture, kidnapping, wiretapping, assassinations, Constitutional infringements, denial of due process.
What happened to the Obama who was supposed to bring change? Leftover hardliners from the Bush days appear to be driving Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The Pentagon warns that a defeat of Nato in Afghanistan will destroy the alliance " the foundation of US hegemony over Europe. After Iraq, another defeat cannot be tolerated.
Soviet veterans of Afghanistan warn the US and its allies face defeat there. The Obama White House cannot even articulate a coherent political strategy for Afghanistan. Its latest big idea is to kick out the hapless Hamid Karzai and install a new “asset”.
Washington hopes US troop reinforcements will finally bludgeon the Afghan national resistance into accepting American domination. Then the long-planned pipeline from the Caspian Basin across Afghanistan to Pakistan can finally be built.
Don’t count on it anytime soon.
Al Qaeda never had more than 300 men and is today reduced to a handful of fugitives hiding in Pakistan’s tribal territories and Baluchistan
The Silence of the Liberals
As Obama launches "war on terrorism" II
by Justin Raimondo
I see that the Pentagon has reversed its old policy of refusing to allow photographs of those flag-draped coffins as our dead soldiers return from the battlefield. One wonders, however, how much interest there will be in taking and publishing such photos now that President Barack Obama is in office. One also wonders how long it will take the media to acknowledge the new quagmire we're sinking into if and when the numbers of casualties start increasing " as they are sure to do.
After all, Obama's war is going to be taking place on a much larger, more difficult canvas than that of his predecessor's, which was confined in large part to Iraq. All of Afghanistan will soon be teeming with newly-arrived US soldiers, sent there " direct from Iraq " to fulfill the President's pledge to start fighting the "right war" in the right way, a "smart" way. Oh, these guys (and gals) are the Best and the Brightest, aren't they?
The smarty-pants tone and style of this administration is already beginning to grate on my nerves, as they pander to their base on the symbolic issues " like the coffin question " in hopes no one will notice as they backtrack on more important matters. So far, it doesn't seem to be working out all that well.
Glenn Greenwald isn't cutting them any slack on the torture brouhaha " he's already pointed out that they'll still be torturing people, albeit not with their own hands in some instances, and that if Guantanamo is closed, Bagram " where similar activities are known to take place " is going to be open for "business."
Most of the Obama-zoids are happy, however, because, after all, Keith Olbermann assures them we've entered the new millennium, the Dear Leader is in the White House, and all's right with the world. But is it?
Not by a long shot. Has anyone noticed Obama's vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months " and the "residual force" he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong?
Originally, none of those "residuals" were supposed to be combat troops " yet now we are told "some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions." You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, "A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces."
In short: we aren't leaving.
I don't care what the status of forces agreement says: that document has more loopholes than the bank bailout bill's provisions for paying back the American taxpayers. Those 50,000 "residual" occupiers will simply pull back into their permanent bases, which are even now being constructed throughout Iraq, to be called on when our sock-puppets find themselves unable to tamp down the growing spirit of rebellion.
What kind of a "withdrawal" is this? It is one so burdened with contingencies, conditional footnotes, and amendatory clauses, that it falls beneath its own weight and collapses into a fair approximation of the status quo.
Antiwar voters who cast their ballots for Obama have succeeded in rolling the stone all the way up a rather steep hill, only to see it fall down the other side " and we are right back where we started. The next hill is called Afghanistan, and beyond that is yet another: Pakistan.
Not even Bush tried to fight a two-front war: Obama, however, is leaping into Afghanistan with alarming speed. Sending those 17,000 troops was one of the first acts of his administration, announced well before any of the economic measures. The economy may be crumbling, but the empire cannot be allowed to go the same way " that's the lunatic mentality of our rulers, whose priorities reflect a Washington mindset still stuck in the glory days of American hegemony.
Under Obama, the military budget will rise by 4 percent, and this isn't counting the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan. As Cato Institute research fellow Benjamin H. Friedman puts it: "Many Americans believe that Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress will lower defense spending and restrain the militaristic foreign policy it underwrites. The coming years should destroy that myth."
Yes, but myths die hard. It will take a couple of shiploads of flag-draped coffins " and perhaps a couple of alarming incidents in Afghanistan and environs " to wake up Obama's liberal supporters to what they're presently enabling with their silent complicity. In the meantime, the creaking wheels of empire are turning as we gather our forces for another even more perilous mission that will take us straight into the fabled graveyard of would-be world-conquerors otherwise known as Afghanistan. Why? How? To what purpose? A thousand questions raise themselves up, like the first crocuses of spring " but the Obama administration isn't answering, because no one of any importance is asking. Just little old me " and, maybe you. And maybe Rachel Maddow, now and then: and that's pretty much it. Surely the alleged "antiwar movement" isn't interested " they're too busy hailing Obama's election.
The President's budget requests for Iraq and Afghanistan total $75 billion through the fall, and $130 billion for next year. That means we'll be spending nearly $11 billion per month for at least the next year and a half.
This bothers exactly no one in Washington, and especially not in the White House or the Democratic caucus chamber: after all, these people believe that government spending " any sort of spending " is what will fix our ailing economy right now. So why not increase the mis-named "defense" budget, anyway " don't you want an economic recovery, or are you, like Rush Limbaugh, hoping the President will fail?
Yes, you know we've entered a new era when I start citing Limbaugh favorably, and yet that's the sad part about all this: it is now left to Limbaugh and his talk radio confreres to point out the backsliding and howling hypocrisy in this administration's policies, both foreign and domestic, because the liberals " with a few exceptions " have been struck dumb by their "victory."
March 26, 2009
In addition to the 17,000 troops President Obama has already committed to add to the war effort in Afghanistan, his new “comprehensive strategy” will include another 4,000 troops and hundreds of “civilian advisers,” bringing the US military presence in Afghanistan to nearly 60,000.
Defending the escalation, Obama declared that the Taliban “must be stopped,” and that Americans must also accept that Pakistan “needs our help.”
The Obama administration is planning billions in new assistance to Pakistan, yet the record of previous U.S. military and development aid to the strife-torn Muslim country has been marred by a lack of accountability and transparency, according to government reports.
President Obama said Friday that he backs a plan to triple non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for five years and make military aid contingent on Pakistan's efforts to cut government ties to insurgents.
More US Troops To Afghanistan in 2009?
Ummm.... thanks for posting the news from last summer:
Camp Bastion is the main British military base in Afghanistan. It is situated northwest of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province.
The Queen's Royal Lancers formed in 1993 when the 16th/5th and 17th/21st Lancers amalgamated. The various constituent Regiments trace their formation back to the 18th century and in the case of the 5th Lancers back to the late 17th century.
Over the course of their history, the Regiments saw service in every corner of the British Empire and fought in many famous campaigns such as the American war of independence, Peninsular War, Waterloo, the Boer War, the Great War and the Second World More recently, The Queen's Royal Lancers have deployed on Exercises and Operations to a number of countries such as Beirut, Cyprus, Belize, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Court Hears of U.S. Unit Killing Afghan Civilians at Random
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
Published: September 27, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Members of an American Army unit consumed with drug use randomly chose Afghan civilians to kill and then failed to report the abuses out of fear they would suffer retaliation from their commander, according to testimony in military court here on Monday................
Date: 04 July 2001
Afghanistan bans growing of poppies for opium
The United Nations Drug Control Program says the world's biggest heroin producing country, Afghanistan, has gone out of the drug business.
A UNDCP report to be released next month will say Afghanistan has completely eradicated cultivation of the opium poppy, the plant producing the resin which is refined into heroin.
Afghanistan's curse: Opium
February 22nd, 2010
Comments (147 comments)
With a loud "whoosh" and a blast of hot air, the pile of tires, wood and 2.5 tons of raw opium burst into flames.
It's a government-sponsored "drug burn" in the western Afghan city of Herat, an event intended to reinforce the government’s claim that it is moving aggressively against the opium trade.
We flew early Sunday morning from Kabul to Herat to witness the event with Afghanistan's Deputy Minister for Combating Narcotics, Daoud Daoud.
The drug burn was dramatic, but the nearly 5,000 pounds of opium is just a tiny fraction of the 6,900 tons - or nearly 14 million pounds - produced last year in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The acreage planted with opium has reportedly decreased over the last two years, but productivity per acre has increased.
Daoud told me he has similar "drug burns" planned, one next week in Kabul with 7 tons of opium, another the following week in Nangahar Province.
Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world’s opium, much of which is processed into heroin. Earnings from opium make up about a third of the country’s gross domestic product. It is a major source of income to the Taliban, who levy a 10 percent tax on its production. Various warlords and government officials are involved in the opium trade. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, has been implicated in the opium trade.
If you want to see the devastating impact of opium on Afghan society, just go to Kabul’s main stadium any day of the week. There, you’ll find dozens of men and teenagers, huddled against the wall, inhaling opium fumes or shooting up heroin. The ground is strewn with used needles.
There I met Shafiqallah, a man in his 30s – although he looked 20 years older – who has been addicted to opium for the last six years. He works when he can as an air conditioner repairman, but hasn’t had any work lately. He told me he begs for the money to pay for his $4-a-day habit, plus feed his wife and six children. In Afghanistan, the average daily per capita income is less than $2. Shafiqallah said underwent treatment late last year to overcome his addiction, but it clearly didn’t work.
The number of opium addicts in Afghanistan has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2005 it was estimated that there were 900,000 addicts in the country. Three years later that number had jumped to 1.5 million.
It's not clear why the number of heroin addicts has spiked in recent years, but Afghan officials are hoping their efforts to eradicate opium through these organized "burns" will help curb the use of the drug - as well as cut funding for the Taliban.
Suspected Militants Torch 27 Tankers Heading for Afghanistan
Robert Raffaele 01 October 2010
Pakistani officials say suspected militants in the country's south on Friday set fire to a convoy of tankers carrying fuel for foreign troops in Afghanistan. The attack came after the closing of a Pakistani border crossing in the northwest, following an earlier NATO airstrike in Pakistan. The events raise concerns about mounting tensions between Washington and Pakistan, a nation the U.S. calls a key ally in the war on terror. VOA's Robert Raffaele has more.
Flames roared from the tankers, after Pakistani officials say a group of gunmen set 27 vehicles on fire. No one was killed, but officials say a similar attack elsewhere left two people dead. Police arrested around 10 suspects in connection to this attack in the southern city of Shikarpur.
A day earlier, Pakistan shut down a vital supply route for NATO forces. Camera crews captured trucks and fuel tankers stopped by police at the Torkham border post in the Khyber tribal region. The bulk of fuel and other non-lethal supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan moves through Pakistan.
U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke on Friday took part in a foreign policy discussion in Washington. He said closing the border for very long would have a colossal impact on Pakistan's economy. "It's inconceivable to me that the closing of the routes -- the alleged closing which is not a full closing anyway -- would continue more than a short period of time," he said.
But there are obvious strains in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. Pakistan closed the border after it says a NATO airstrike killed three of its soldiers, and anger over that and other incidents flared in parliament Friday.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. "If you (NATO) attack inside Pakistani territory and cause any collateral damage, we will not accept it. We will never allow you to interfere with Pakistan's sovereignty and security. If you (NATO) do not justify the attacks and do not apologize, then we will consider other alternatives. We have other options too," he said.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had this to say. "We will continue to work with our ally in ensuring we can do whatever is possible to assist them in their fight against those extremists that again, not just threaten us, but threaten the existence of their own government in Pakistan," he said.
In Karachi Friday, scores of protesters took to the streets to condemn NATO strikes in Pakistan.
And Pakistan's ambassador to Belgium lodged a formal protest to NATO leaders.
Col. Harry Tunnell
An Army report into the command oversight of soldiers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan sharply criticizes several leaders in their Washington-based brigade, according to sources who have seen the report.
The report recommends a letter of admonition for Col. Harry Tunnell, former commander of the 5th Brigade (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the sources say.
While his leadership or the command climate wasn't linked to the alleged war crimes, Tunnell was cited for an inability to get along with his superior officers and peers, as well as not following the Army's overall strategy in Afghanistan, according to the sources.
Tunnell has moved from the brigade to a new position in Kentucky. But the report's author said he would have recommended that Tunnell be removed from command if he still were in charge of the brigade, according to the sources.
Other recommendations in the report included calls for letters of reprimand against two junior officers for negligent oversight of the troubled platoon involved in the war crimes, the sources said. Letters of reprimand, which are more serious than letters of admonition, can block an officer from further advancement......
In July 2010, however, Tunnell vigorously defended his approach to the Afghanistan war, saying his soldiers faced a tough fight in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar province......
"As an experienced infantry brigade commander, going into my third war, I think I am qualified to make an assessment about what doctrine is appropriate," Tunnell said. "... Our casualties would have been much, much higher had we followed another model. I have no doubt."...
"What was shocking was the level of ... disorganization, the level of mistrust among the lieutenant colonels (in the brigade) and their commander," said Stjepan Mestrovic, a sociologist who was given access to the report as a defense expert witness for Spc. Jeremy Morlock, who pleaded guilty last month to participating in the murder of the unarmed Afghans..............
Stryker brigade 'dysfunctional'
Adam Ashton, Staff writer |
• Published March 24, 2011
Two generals who oversaw the training for a troubled Stryker brigade told an Army investigator that they regretted not removing the brigade commander before the unit left for Afghanistan, according to a defense witness who has studied the investigation and testified in court Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“The brigade was dysfunctional,” said Texas A&M sociology professor Stjepan Mestrovic. He testified on behalf of Spc. Jeremy Morlock, who pleaded guilty to murdering three Afghan civilians during his deployment with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division last year.
Mestrovic’s description was the first public discussion of the report. It was commissioned last fall by Lewis-McChord commander Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti to investigate whether officers should have known that enlisted soldiers were using drugs and carrying out schemes to murder civilians after deploying to southern Afghanistan in July 2009.
The Army has concealed the 500-page report, written by Brig. Gen. Stephen Twitty, and given it only to defense attorneys representing soldiers who now face misconduct charges. The News Tribune has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy of it.