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NATO and Drug Trafficking - 18.9.2007
Vladimir Plastun (Photo:

NATO and Drug TraffickingBy Vladimir Plastun, Professor at Novosibirsk State Universitys oriental studies department, D.Sc. (history), expert-ethnographer on Afghan army (1988), special correspondent of the Moscow-based daily Pravda in Afghanistan (1989).

Its well-known that narcotics on a level with the absence of security for the residents of Afghanistan pose a threat not only to the country but the international community as well. According to UN experts, the growth in the production of drugs grew by 17% in 2007 compared with the past year. The share of Afghan opium supplied to the international market is 93% of the production of drugs in the world and 70% of opium is produced in Afghan provinces along the Pakistani border, while 50% out of which in Hilmend province where the main contingent of British forces was deployed last year.

The former British Prime Minister Toney Blair substantiating the move told parliament that young British people buy Afghan drugs on British streets, these drugs pose a threat to the nation no less than terrorism and the biggest drug hoard in the world is Afghanistan. However, the above figures show that production of drugs has not falling; on the contrary, it is clearly growing.

The coalition forces, US contingent and the Afghan government headed by Hamid Karzai are divided concerning the methods of fighting against threat posed by drug trafficking. They examined the possibility of spraying poppy crops but the idea was rejected owing to possible health hazards. It was suggested finding a replacement and offering Afghan farmers to sow useful crop rather than poppy under privileged conditions. Attempts were made to destroy heroine making laboratories using military hardware.

However, the problem has not resolved yet. A reason for this is none of the partners of the coalition forces, NATO and US forces, has no desire to bear an additional burden. It is too much for the coalition forces known as peacekeeping contingent, which is engaged in carrying out operations against Taliban almost in full, were asked to destroy poppy crops.

NATO officials believe that it is the duty of the local authorities and the central government of Afghanistan to fight against drugs. Originally, it was their responsibility. The reason was field commanders controlled crops, harvest and the production of drugs and originally, the US and its allies gave money for their maintenance, which was distributed among the commanders of militant groups as salaries by Afghan officials.

Supposedly, it was considered that this procedure could guarantee the loyalty of commanders to the government and foreign forces, tear away them from the Taliban movement and enlist their support for stabilizing the situation. However, experts say that only 40% of the money allocated reached to the commanders and the rest was looted in the centre. This prompted the commanders to shift to self-sufficiency by producing and selling drugs using old well-trodden paths of drug trafficking.

Consequently, the representatives of the coalition started to finance the field commanders directly, but according to my opinion, the latter received money punctually from their Taliban-compatriots too. At the same time, the Taliban was blamed for the further growth of drug production and the coalition imitated that it was waging a decisive fight against drug dealers. One who visited Kabul could see the luxurious palaces built by commanders from drug money.

In short, for the coalition forces, the financing the fight against the organized drug dealers means throw them into air or more precisely, into the pockets of corrupted government officials and commanders of mojahead groups. This has an impact on the readiness of the NATO officials to step up their activity in this direction. Moreover, no one will call into question the involvement of American and European organized drug dealers who are united in a peculiar international. This means the fighting has to wage on two fronts and start from the top.

At the same time no one should forget the words pronounced by Usama bin Laden some time ago that the distribution of drugs among Americans and Europeans, the crusaders, helps their destruction. Consequently, the production and sale of drugs must be promoted rather than reduced. In fact, Moslems are categorically prohibited the use of drugs by Holy Koran.

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