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[casi] Soon in this - Iraqi - Theatre ....

Soon in this - Iraqi - Theatre ....: explosion of the now fledgeling drug

But don't skip weapons, cigarettes (both long entrenched businesses in
Northern Iraq) and a more recent - very flourishing - addition: human
trafficking incl.
abduction & rape business.

Sorry, did I forget trade in nuclear materials?



      September 5, 2003

      U.N. Aide Says Afghan Drug Trade Pays for Terrorist Attacks

      ABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 30 - The American-led forces in Afghanistan
must address the country's drug trade because the huge opium and heroin
crops are being used by militants to finance their activities, the top
United Nations drug official has warned.

      Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the Vienna-based United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an interview here that there were
indications that those carrying out violence in Afghanistan were financing
their attacks with drug trafficking, and in some places forcing farmers to
grow opium poppies.

      "The terrorists and traffickers are the same people," he said at the
end of a weeklong visit to Afghanistan. "You cannot fight the war against
terror without going against drug trafficking."

      Mr. Costa said that he had asked the American-led forces here several
times to focus on the drug trade, and that he had seen reports that military
forces had recently intercepted drug traffickers and had destroyed at least
one illegal heroin laboratory.

      Afghanistan was the world's largest source of illicit opium in 2002,
producing 3,750 tons, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and
Crime. This year's harvest will be much the same, Mr. Costa said.

      His agency, which is supporting a 10-year Afghan government program to
eradicate opium and heroin production, estimates that the poppy crop brought
$1.2 billion to farmers and traders last year. That is double the Afghan
government's yearly budget and roughly the amount spent by the donor
countries on reconstruction in Afghanistan last year.

      The amount of money "has very major political and military
implications," Mr. Costa said. He said Afghanistan was still in danger of
falling into the hands of drug traders.

      In Badakhshan, a northern province where poppy cultivation has spread
this year, farmers chatted freely to visitors last month as they harvested
their crops. There seems to be little interference from the authorities
here, although the government in Kabul has outlawed growing opium poppies
and there have been local efforts in some places to eradicate their

      "Everyone is doing it, it is free at the moment, without penalty,"
said Gulistan, the military chief of operations in Taloqan, a northern town.
"It really took off during the Taliban period and it is increasing now."

      Local and foreign officials cite a power vacuum and lack of central
government control in many places, as well as poverty and the influence of
drug traders and militant groups for the increase in illegal production.

      Local officials complain that neither the central government nor
international groups help them fight the drug trade. Gen. Muhammad Daoud,
the military chief of the four northeastern provinces, said there had been
no international assistance to combat the drug trade in the last two years.

      The Afghan cabinet is on the point of passing legislation on drug
trafficking, Mr. Costa said, but he warned that the struggle to eradicate
opium and heroin production would take a generation.

      For the farmers, many of whom subsist on what they grow, the draw is
the money.

      "We know it is bad, but we are poor and that's why we do it," said
Jorukash, 45, as he and his nephew cut poppy stalks in his fields. He said
he could get $100 from his land if he grew wheat, but $1,000 if he grew
poppies. Jorukash said he had already collected the opium resin and sold it
in the bazaar, and bought grain that would provide enough bread for his
family for the winter.

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