Not so well now in the home of Afghan opium, I see…
Afghanistan will encourage its powerful drug lords to invest their illegally earned profits back into the war-shattered country, according to the governor of the nation’s top opium-growing region.
The offer comes amid warnings of another bumper poppy crop that will fuel a booming narcotics trade that already accounts for 35 percent of the impoverished nation’s income.
“We as a government will provide them the opportunity to use their money for the national benefit,” said Helmand Governor Mohammed Daud during a two-day trip this week to the region by US Ambassador Ronald Neumann.
“They must invest in industries. They must invest in construction companies,” he said.
But he said so far the government has had no success in attracting the drug lords to open new businesses, and that most of the money is being sent overseas.
So profitable is the drug trade that it employs about one in 10 Afghans and brought in US$2.8 billion last year, Afghan and US officials say. The vast majority of that goes to traffickers and only a fraction to farmers.
About 140,000 hectares of poppies are believed to have been planted this year — an increase of up to 40 percent from last year. The opium is refined into heroin before being smuggled out of the country to meet 90 percent of the world’s supply.
A US diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the drug trade was so entrenched that it was difficult to confront the narco bosses head-on.
He said one or two major traffickers have approached the Afghan government for talks on a possible informal amnesty in return for ending their involvement in drugs, swearing allegiance to President Hamid Karzai’s government, investing their money at home and paying taxes.
But the diplomat said that no deals had been reached. Most of their money is stashed in banks in the United Arab Emirates, he said.
Gee. Kinda makes Hugo Chavez’s petropopulism look…well, pretty damn DECENT…doesn’t it?
And how about that UAE, eh? Sounds to me like the sort of place where bad money would go to die…or in this case, make its ill-gotten gainer even MORE dirty, rotten money.
Yeah, tell me again how this war was really about fighting terrorism, BushCo. If you sing it tunefully enough, I might even cry.