There is an excellent interview with former head of the Pakistani intelligence service, General Hamid Gul, here. He makes some very strong points. It is undoubtedly true that it is warlords in the US-backed Karzai government who control 90% of the world heroin trade, and that the trade has expanded to its highest ever levels under coalition control. It is undoubtedly true that US foreign policy in the region is dictated by the desire to access Central Asian oil and gas. It is also undoubtedly true that the US works closely with Mossad and with India in Central Asia, and that many of its attacks appear calculated to stir up rather than ease conflict.Read the whole interview. Here are a couple of snippets:
But what, I asked General Gul, in his view, were the true reasons for the invasion of Afghanistan, and why the U.S. is still there?Note that NYTimes reporter James Risen recently noted that last year, Dostum "finally kind of left (Afghanistan) under a cloud to Turkey... the Turks have kind of been his sponsors."
“A very good question,” he responded. “I think you have reached the point precisely.” It is a “principle of war,” he said, “that you never mix objectives. Because when you mix objectives then you end up with egg on your face. You face defeat. And here was a case where the objectives were mixed up. Ostensibly, it was to disperse al Qaeda, to get Osama bin Laden. But latently, the reasons for the offensive, for the attack on Afghanistan, were quite different.”
First, he says, the U.S. wanted to “reach out to the Central Asian oilfields” and “open the door there”, which “was a requirement of corporate America, because the Taliban had not complied with their desire to allow an oil and gas pipeline to pass through Afghanistan. UNOCAL is a case in point. They wanted to keep the Chinese out. They wanted to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield. And that’s why they were talking at that time very hotly about ‘greater Middle East’. They were redrawing the map.”
I pointed out to the former ISI chief that Afghan opium finds its way into Europe via Pakistan, via Iran and Turkey, and via the former Soviet republics. According to the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, convoys under General Rashid Dostum — who was reappointed last month to his government position as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army by President Hamid Karzai — would truck the drugs over the border. And President Karzai’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been accused of being a major drug lord. So I asked General Gul who was really responsible for the Afghan drug trade.
Back to the interview with Gul:
Returning to the drug trade, General Gul named the brother of President Karzai, Abdul Wali Karzai. “Abdul Wali Karzai is the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan,” he stated bluntly. He added that the drug lords are also involved in arms trafficking, which is “a flourishing trade” in Afghanistan. “But what is most disturbing from my point of view is that the military aircraft, American military aircraft are also being used. You said very rightly that the drug routes are northward through the Central Asia republics and through some of the Russian territory, and then into Europe and beyond. But some of it is going directly. That is by the military aircraft. I have so many times in my interviews said, ‘Please listen to this information, because I am an aware person.’ We have Afghans still in Pakistan, and they sometimes contact and pass on the stories to me. And some of them are very authentic. I can judge that. So they are saying that the American military aircraft are being used for this purpose. So, if that is true, it is very, very disturbing indeed.”
Note that the claims about US military planes carrying Afghanistan's heroin are not new. This article (see also) is from February 2008:
Now Russia has joined the fray accusing the U.S. military of involvement in the heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. The Vesti channel’s report from Afghanistan said that drugs from Afghanistan were hauled by American transport aircraft to the U.S. airbases Ganci in Kyrgyzstan and Incirlik in Turkey.
Update: Also see this 2008 interview of Malalai Joya, former member of Afghanistan's national parliament, the Loya Jirga, and said to be The Bravest Woman in Afghanistan:
Joya: Corruption and drug trafficking have become a big issues. In my view, security is the biggest issue. After that it is corruption. The so-called international community which in fact is US government and its allies, has sent a lot of money. This amount was enough to build two instead of one Afghanistan. But even Karzai himself confesses that the money has ended up in the pockets of ministers, bureaucrats and member parliaments. On the other hand, one hears about a mother in Heart selling her daughter for ten dollars. And not merely the brother of Karzai is a drug lord, foreign troops have been allegedly involved.
Really? Any proof? Press reports?
Joya: Yes some press reports have pointed that out. For instance, Russian state TV has hinted at US troops involvement in drug trafficking. That was reported in the press here. But this is like an open secret. Karzai in one of his speeches last year said that it was not only Afghans who are involved in drug trafficking. He hinted at foreign connections. Though he did not name any country or troops but people in Afghanistan understood what he meant.