Russia could take revenge with assault on Caucasus

[Moscow could decide to roll-back the “Islamists” and their American backers in a surprise repeat of last year’s anti-Georgia operation.  Come to think of it, it would also be a good time to roll over Saakashvili.   Consider where we would be right now if Putin and Medvedev had not thwarted American and Israeli power plays last year to seize the vital pipeline region and to seal-off the Roki Tunnel, which would have blocked  Russian forces beyond the Greater Caucasus Mountains.  Think about what would have come next, Bush would have remained in power and Israel would have obtained  a clear route to bomb Iranian reactors.  If Russian forces move to secure their positions once again, don’t  look for them to stop until they secured both the Caspian and the Black Seas.]

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Russia could take revenge with assault on Caucasus

The site of the Nevsky Express train derailment near the village of Uglovka, about 400km northwest of Moscow, on Saturday. Photograph: Konstantin Chalabov/Reuters

OPINION: Suspicion over Friday’s train bomb is focused on militants from the strategic region, writes DANIEL McLAUGHLIN

THE SHOCK-WAVES from Friday night’s bomb attack on the Moscow-St Petersburg express will be felt far beyond Russia’s two main cities.

Twenty-five people were killed, almost 100 injured, and many more are still missing, feared dead, after the Nevsky Express was hurled from the rails in remote woodland as it sped north from Moscow to Russia’s old imperial capital.

Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site, and another smaller device blew up on Saturday while rescue teams were still working on the wreckage of the train, which is the most luxurious of its type in Russia and regularly carries politicians and business executives.

No group has claimed responsibility for the atrocity, but suspicion is already focused on militants from the North Caucasus region, whose attacks on Russian targets are becoming more frequent and more audacious.

In the first nine months of this year, more than 420 people were killed in rebel attacks in the neighbouring republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, four times the number killed in the same period last year.

This year’s victims include senior police and army officers, local politicians and judges, and the militants came close to killing the Kremlin-appointed president of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in a car bomb attack in June.

Chechnya, the main Caucasus battleground of the last decade, is arguably now calmer than Ingushetia and Dagestan, but security service personnel and rebels are now dying daily across the region in clashes that make a mockery of previous Kremlin claims to have full control over the republics.

After prematurely declaring anti-terrorist operations over this spring, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev admitted in this month’s state-of-the-nation address that the situation in the Caucasus was the “most serious domestic political problem for our country”. “The level of corruption, violence, and clan dominance in North Caucasus republics is simply unprecedented,” he said.

The candour of Medvedev’s comments fuelled talk of an impending crackdown in the Caucasus, as did a sudden hardening of the mild-mannered lawyer’s rhetoric. He has called the rebels “terrorist scum” who must be eliminated “without emotion or hesitation”, words that called to mind the order of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, that Chechnya’s militants be killed wherever they are hiding, and even “whacked in the outhouse”.

Putin, now Russia’s prime minister, made that demand 10 years ago, shortly after a series of devastating apartment bombings in Moscow and southern Russia killed more than 200 people in their homes.

The attacks spread fear throughout Russia and brought the insurgency on its southern, mountainous fringe into the “heartland” of the country, convincing people that Chechnya’s separatists had to be crushed and that the tough-talking Putin was the man to do it.

The myriad unanswered questions about the apartment bombings prompted allegations they were carried out by Russia’s security services to provide a pretext for a new Chechen war, which Putin was in the process of launching when the bombs exploded. Several people who made such claims, or investigated the attacks, have been jailed or have died in mysterious circumstances, including agent-turned-whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko.

While there is no suggestion of state involvement in Friday’s Nevsky Express explosion, it could have a similar impact to the apartment bombings of a decade ago.

Russia’s most prestigious train was targeted because it carried some 700 passengers between the nation’s biggest and most important cities, its political, economic and financial powerhouses, the home of its elite. Putin and Medvedev both hail from St Petersburg, and they have brought many allies from their home town to rule with them in Moscow.

The Nevsky Express was a soft target that carried considerable symbolic weight for Russians, and its destruction will feed political and public calls for severe measures against those responsible.

Ultranationalist groups have been mentioned as possible suspects, but they have never launched an attack on this scale. If, as expected, Caucasian rebels are ultimately blamed, then we may soon see Russian forces surging back into the region to crush them.

Earlier this month exiled Chechen rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev said Moscow was preparing to deploy an “enormous” number of troops to the North Caucasus, to establish an iron grip on the region before the nearby resort of Sochi hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“They want to solve the Caucasus problem before the Olympics and tell the world they have eliminated terrorism,” he said. “This will also put the North Caucasus in their hands.”

Renewed large-scale military operations in the region would be a disaster for its people, thousands of whom have died and disappeared in fighting between Islamic militants, clans, organised crime groups, separatist rebels, Russian security forces and local Kremlin-backed leaders whose militias are infamous for their brutality and corruption.

The Kremlin is determined to remain the dominant player in the Caucasus, which is a vital route for exports of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia.

Russia strengthened its hand considerably last year by crushing Georgia in a six-day war and by recognising the independence of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Georgians now fear Moscow will use trouble in the North Caucasus as a pretext to launch a new offensive, and senior Russian security officials recently accused Georgia of harbouring rebels in its remote Pankisi Gorge region, which borders Chechnya and Dagestan.

Another war between Russia and Georgia would further damage the latter’s reputation as the West’s most stable and solid partner in the Caucasus, and undermine its place at the centre of US and European Union efforts to create an energy pipeline network that bypasses Russia. For Russians facing a renewed terror threat, the people of the Caucasus who fear a backlash, and western powers with major strategic interests in the region, the fate of the Nevsky Express may be a grim portent of even worse to come.

Trigger-happy security complicates convoys

Trigger-happy security complicates convoys

By Sean D. Naylor

HUTAL, Afghanistan — Ill-disciplined private security guards escorting supply convoys to coalition bases are wreaking havoc as they pass through western Kandahar province, undermining the coalition’s counterinsurgency strategy here and leading to at least one confrontation with U.S. forces, say U.S. Army officers and Afghan government officials.

The security guards are responsible for killing and wounding more than 30 innocent civilians during the past four years in Maywand district alone, said Mohammad Zareef, the senior representative in the district for Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.

Highway 1, the country’s main east-west artery, runs through Maywand and is the route taken by logistics convoys moving west from Kabul and Kandahar to coalition bases in Helmand province. The Afghan government’s district chief for Maywand says the men hired to protect the convoys are heroin addicts armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.

The contractors’ actions are frustrating U.S. military leaders in Maywand and undermining coalition efforts to bring a greater sense of security to the Afghan people, particularly because the locals associate the contractors with the coalition.

“They’ll start firing at anything that’s moving, and they will injure or kill innocent Afghans, and they’ll destroy property,” said Lt. Col. Jeff French, commander of 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment and Task Force Legion, the main coalition force in Maywand since mid-September. French has vowed to take tough action against contractors involved in violent acts against civilians.


The problem of out-of-control security contractors operating at cross-purposes to the coalition’s counterinsurgency strategy is similar to the one that dogged the U.S. military and its allies in Iraq, with one major difference: unlike Iraq, where there were a series of high-profile incidents involving U.S. security personnel, here the guards causing the problems are Afghans.

About twice a week convoys up to 50 vehicles long pass through Maywand en route to coalition bases in Helmand carrying fuel and other bulk goods coming from the Pakistani port city of Karachi, said Capt. Casey Thoreen, commander of 2-1 Infantry’s B Company, which operates from Combat Outpost Rath, located less than 100 meters from Highway 1 in the town of Hutal.

Although the convoys sometimes carry U.S. military vehicles and represent a vital lifeline for the coalition effort, no Afghan, U.S. or other coalition military forces accompany them. Instead, each convoy is protected by Afghan security guards armed with AK-series assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades in sport utility vehicles — “black 4Runners, full of guys in these tan uniforms, with lots of guns sticking out of them,” Thoreen said. “These guys are like gun-toting mercenaries with probably not a whole lot of training. … They’re just light on the trigger finger.”

Haji Obidullah Bawari, the Afghan government’s district chief for Maywand, rendered an even harsher judgment. “Most of them are addicted to heroin,” he said.

Until recently, the identities of the companies for whom the security guards worked remained shrouded in mystery, even from the coalition headquarters whose troops they are supplying. French said he requested information on the companies through his higher brigade headquarters — 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division — but had yet to receive any word back.

An International Security Assistance Force spokesman said the convoy security workers are employees of the logistics contractors running the convoys. Those contractors work for one or several of the ISAF, NATO or 26 countries operating in Afghanistan. As a result, he said he did not know how much is spent on the security firms or which companies had hired them.

Asked about allegations of heroin use and improper conduct, ISAF spokesman Col. Wayne M. Shanks said that while neither ISAF nor Regional Command-South has a vetting role in the selection of the security guards, “all credible allegations of improper actions by contractors are fully investigated.”

Over the past several weeks, local leaders have voiced complaints about the security contractors, prompting French to ask more questions about the contractors’ behavior. He said the answers he received troubled him.


“They roll through, and if they see something that seems like a threat to them, or they feel that they’re under attack, the local Afghans are saying that they just start to lase and blaze,” French said. “They don’t stop, they don’t wait for the police to come and do an investigation or anything; they just take off.”

Among incidents this year involving the security guards in Maywand, according to Zareef, the NDS chief:

• On May 9, contractors shot dead an Afghan National Policeman manning a checkpoint on Highway 1, then drove away.

• Contractors left their broken-down car for a night at a gas station and found the next morning that insurgents had burned it. In their anger, the security guards turned their guns on the local population. “They started shooting and killed a kid,” Zareef said.

• On March 28, speeding contractors killed a local man and his wife, and injured their child, when the security guards’ SUV hit the motorcycle on which the family was riding.

• Afghans arrested a convoy security guard for the March 4 killing of a kuchi, or nomadic herder.

Zareef’s accounts were consistent with the reports received by U.S. commanders.

“We’re getting fairly consistent complaints about them,” Thoreen said. “Everybody knows somebody who’s been shot by the contractors.”

When the Taliban hit their targets, the security guards show little compassion for their wounded, French said.

“They will literally dump them on the road out here,” he said. Those who come to the base seeking medical aid get it and “on several occasions” the U.S. forces medically evacuated them to more sophisticated coalition medical facilities.

“There’s no give-a-s— factor in them when it comes to their employees,” he said. The firms’ attitude was: “Good luck — it sucks to be you. You’re in Maywand. We’re kicking you to the curb.”


French said he is planning to turn the issue to his advantage by taking a hard line with the convoy escorts, demonstrating the value of coalition and Afghan security forces to the local population. He said that at a “shura” meeting called to discuss security issues with local leaders, he committed himself to trying to solve the contractor problem.

French told the local leaders that he had ordered his troops that if they received credible reports of security guards shooting at civilians, they were to move immediately to the site and investigate the incident by talking to Afghan security forces, local civilians and the convoy escorts.

“If … we feel that they were acting inappropriately and endangering people in this district, my intent is to basically take control of those individuals in that convoy, bring them back to Ramrod and lock them up in here … call their company, make sure we can get some kind of an understanding regarding their operations, and then my guys will personally escort them out of Maywand district,” French said.

On Nov. 15, French was able to back up his words with action. After receiving word of shooting from the vicinity of Highway 1 as three convoys were rolling through Maywand, 2-1 Infantry’s quick reaction force set up a checkpoint on the highway outside the battalion’s headquarters at Forward Operating Base Ramrod and pulled over two of the convoys at gunpoint before taking the two convoys’ security chiefs into the base for questioning.

One security chief, Fidal Mohammed, claimed to have 48 men under arms. He said he worked for a company called DIAK, said 2-1 Infantry’s executive officer, Maj. Dave Abrahams, who conducted the meetings. Mohammed also gave Abrahams the names of several other companies that work the convoy escort business along Highway 1. The other security chief, who gave his name as Lalai, said he worked for a company called Angar and commanded 52 armed men.

Abrahams said he told each man that Task Force Legion would not tolerate misconduct by security companies along Highway 1 and that “any reports of security convoys firing on civilians or indiscriminately into the villages will be investigated and wrongdoers will be punished.”

Speaking before the Nov. 15 episode, French said he was hoping to achieve “multiple effects” by confronting the contractors. “Most of the positive effects will be the populace seeing us taking action to protect them,” he said.

Obama warns Pakistan to Stop Using Our Strategy of Using Insurgents

Stop using insurgents as strategic tool, Obama warns Pak

AgenciesTags : US, Pakistan, terrorists, al Qaeda, Lashkar e ToibaPosted: Monday , Nov 30, 2009 at 1134 hrsWashington:


In his letter to Zardari, President Obama has warned Pak that its use of insurgent groups for policy goals ‘cannot continue’.

In a stern message to Pakistan, the United States has asked it to shed its policy of "using insurgents" like LeT as a strategic tool and warned that if it cannot deliver against terrorists, the US may be impelled to use "any means" at its disposal.

The message, which has been conveyed in a letter from US President Barack Obama to his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, also includes an offer by him to try to "reduce tensions" between India and Pakistan, media reported here.

The two-page letter, hand-delivered by National Security Adviser General (retd) James Jones when he visited Islamabad early this month, offers Pakistan enhancement of strategic partnership if they act as wished by the US, besides additional military and economic aid.

In his letter, Obama has also warned Pakistan that its use of insurgent groups for policy goals "cannot continue" and called for closer collaboration against all extremist groups.

He named five such groups – al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Tehrik-e-Taliban.

"Using vague diplomatic language, he said that ambiguity in Pakistan’s relationship with any of them could no longer be ignored," the ‘Washington Post’ reported.

Jones did some straight-talking with the top Pakistani leadership, the daily said. "If Pakistan cannot deliver, he warned, the US may be impelled to use any means at its disposal to rout insurgents based along Pakistan’s western and southern borders with Afghanistan."

The Post said US officials have long referred to Pakistani military and intelligence officers who are sympathetic to or actively support insurgent groups fighting in Afghanistan as "rogue elements".

Spies for Hire: New Online Database of U.S. Intelligence Contractors

Spies for Hire: New Online Database of U.S. Intelligence Contractors

by Tim Shorrock, Special to CorpWatch
November 16th, 2009

CorpWatch Releases Online Database of U.S. Intelligence Contractors
Joint project with SPIES FOR HIRE author Tim Shorrock
Now available at SPIES FOR


•   Tim Shorrock: E-mail: timshorrock [at] gmail [dot] com
Tel: +1-901/361-7441

•    CorpWatch: Tonya Hennessey: E-mail: tonya [at] corpwatch [dot] org
Tel: +1-650/273-2475

SPIES FOR HIRE CorpWatch press release-FIN.pdf

For immediate release
November 16, 2009
WASHINGTON – Starting today, journalists, activists, and corporate researchers will be able to use the Internet site to track the nation’s most important intelligence contractors.
Increasingly, secret drone attacks in Pakistan, CIA prisons in Guantanamo, and domestic surveillance of American citizens, have drawn public scrutiny to U.S. intelligence. These and other policies have triggered calls for criminal investigations and congressional commissions to investigate possible abuses in the post-9/11 “war on terror.”
But there’s a big piece missing from the national debate about spying: the role of private intelligence contractors. After journalist Tim Shorrock’s 2008 investigation, U.S. officials confirmed that 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget goes directly to private companies working under contract to the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies. With the U.S. intelligence budget estimated at $60 billion a year, the outsourced business of intelligence is a $45 billion annual industry.
To help the public and media understand this new phenomenon, CorpWatch is joining today with Shorrock, the first journalist to blow the whistle on the privatization of U.S. intelligence, to create a groundbreaking database focusing on the dozens of corporations that provide classified intelligence services to the United States government.
This database expands on Shorrock’s 2008 book, SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.’s detailed descriptions and histories of the companies that make up this new class of mercenaries will make it your guide to the new U.S. Intelligence-Industrial Complex.
Included are defense giants such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon; lesser-known but still influential companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, and CACI International; and dozens of Beltway Bandits that have set up shop in D.C. and environs to feed the government’s insatiable appetite for contract intelligence.
These contractors, database users will find, do it all:
•    At the CIA, they conduct interrogations at Guantanamo, run stations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots, and help transport suspected terrorists— including some later found innocent—to countries known to practice torture.
•    At the NSA, they work alongside agency employees at listening posts in Maryland, Georgia, Hawaii, the UK, and elsewhere to monitor telephone calls and emails between U.S. citizens and targeted foreigners.
•    From bases in Nevada and Virginia, they control the military and CIA Predators that launch missiles at suspected terrorist bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
•    Contractors also run covert operations, write intelligence reports that are passed up the line of command all the way to the president, and advise agencies on how to spend taxpayer dollars. is a component of CorpWatch’s existing Crocodyl database on global corporations. Based on Shorrock’s research for his book and for CorpWatch, Salon, Mother Jones, and other publications, the site will feature essential information ab0ut each major contractor, such as its key executives for intelligence operations, its major intelligence clients, and an analysis of its role in the U.S. intelligence system.
The database is an ongoing project. Starting from a base of a dozen companies and intelligence agencies, it will eventually include all the major private sector players in the business of U.S. government spying. Each profile will be regularly updated. Unlike Crocodyl, which registered users can augment, will be edited exclusively by Shorrock and the CorpWatch staff, who will also vet and fact check any volunteer or whistleblower contributions.
Since 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government’s use of private sector contractors for tasks of war has made headlines: Halliburton’s lucrative Iraqi reconstruction contracts, CACI International’s civilian interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and Blackwater’s (now Xe) shooting of noncombatants in Baghdad—to name a few. Less well known is U.S. contractor involvement in Latin America, for example in executing the U.S. war on drugs in countries like Colombia.
This site will, for the first time, expose the size and scope of the private sector’s influence on U.S. intelligence agencies—and the government’s unsettling efforts to hide the facts.
A global community of non-profit, independent investigative research, journalism and advocacy around issues of multinational corporate accountability and transparency, the CorpWatch community of sites provides tools and resources for critical vigilance and advocacy through a global effort of NGOs, journalists, activists, whistleblowers and academics. Through its family of websites and social media, we seek to expose multinational corporations that that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses, and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy. provides non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. is an evolving compendium of critical research, posted to the public domain as an aid to anyone working to hold corporations increasingly accountable. Crocodyl enables disparate groups and individuals to pool our knowledge about specific corporations in order to reduce the high cost of corporate research.
Tim Shorrock is an investigative journalist who has spent a quarter-century researching the intersection of national security and business. SPIES FOR HIRE, his groundbreaking book on the privatization of U.S. intelligence, was published to great acclaim in 2008 bySimon & Schuster, and released in paperback in May 2009. Shorrock’s work has appeared in many publications in the United States and abroad, including The Nation, Salon, Mother Jones, Harper’s, Inter Press Service, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, The Journal of Commerce, Foreign Policy in Focus, and Asia Times. He appears frequently as a commentator on U.S intelligence and foreign policy, and has been interviewed on Pacifica’s “Democracy Now,” Air America, and CBS Radio. Shorrock grew up in Japan and South Korea, and now lives in Washington, D.C., where he researches government contracts for an AFL-CIO union representing federal employees.

The Grand Illusion That America Represents an Economic “Safe Haven”

Benign neglect may turn the dollar from a safe haven to a dangerous place to be

The US government is shouldering a vast $12 trillion debt pile – that’s 12, followed by 12 zeros.

By Liam Halligan

The trade deficit of the world’s biggest economy also remains huge. How much longer can the dollar defy gravity?

Last week, America’s currency fell to a 15-month low against the euro, cutting through $1.5050. Against a trade-weighted currency basket, the dollar was also at its weakest since July 2008. The greenback plunged to parity with the rock-solid Swiss franc, then hit a 14-year low against the yen.

The dollar’s weakness is based on fundamentals – not least America’s jaw-dropping debt. It’s a long-term trend. From the start of 2002 until the middle of last year, the dollar lost 30pc on a trade-weighted basis.

It was during the summer and autumn of 2008, though, that the sub-prime debacle entered its most vicious phase (so far). The rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America’s quasi-state mortgage-lenders, followed by the Lehman collapse, sent shock waves around the world. For six months or so, Western investors piled into what they knew, liquidating complex positions and buying plain dollars. The greenback became stronger, spiralling upward during the so-called "safe haven rally".

All that has now changed. The trade-weighted dollar has lost 22pc since March. One reason is that, since the spring, the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazy – both to bail out Wall Street and service America’s rapidly growing debt.

Sophisticated investors have also been exploiting America’s ultra-low 0.25pc interest rate to borrow cheaply in dollars, switch these borrowings in currencies where returns are higher, then pocket the difference. This so-called "carry trade" has flooded foreign exchange markets with US currency.

The dollar fell particularly sharply last week, though, as traders were reminded of the patently obvious – that the White House actually wants the dollar to fall. US Treasury officials have lately taken to staring into the TV cameras, puffing out their chests, then stating: "We are committed to a strong dollar." That’s nonsense, of course, because a weaker currency boosts US exports and lowers the value of America’s external debt.

When the minutes of the Fed’s latest policy meeting were published on Tuesday, describing the dollar’s decline as "orderly", the markets rightly took that as confirmation of America’s "benign neglect" approach – with intervention to support the dollar unlikely. The minutes also showed the Fed’s key committee members voted "unanimously" to keep interest rates at rock-bottom for "an extended period" – another reason to sell.

In addition, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the fund that safeguards US bank deposits, warned that the number of "problem" banks grew in the third quarter, leading to speculation it could seek a credit line from the US Treasury. That would mean more borrowing and money-printing, concerns which sent the dollar even lower.

Yet "benign neglect" is fraught with danger. A weak US currency makes commodities more expensive (seeing as they’re priced in dollars). It was when the dollar hit an all-time low of $1.60 against the euro during the summer of 2008 that oil soared to $147 a barrel. Expensive crude damages the economy of the world’s biggest oil user. And as the dollar falls, America’s huge commodity imports cost more, making the trade deficit even worse.

On top of all that, a falling dollar makes it even more difficult for the US government to meet its massive borrowing needs. Just to service existing debt, America must sell $205bn of Treasuries this year, a total set to hit more than $700bn a year by 2019 – even if annual budget deficits shrink. Selling long-term sovereign debt, in a currency expected to fall, is not easy.

Almost every American economist I know dismisses these concerns. Several have contacted me over the last 48 hours, gloating that the dollar has just put on a renewed "safe haven" spurt in the midst of fears about Dubai.

Yet the state of the dollar poses enormous dangers. For one thing, America’s currency depreciation trick could backfire if "the rope slips" and a steadily dollar decline turns into free fall. The cost of US imports would soar, with the Fed being forced to sharply push up rates. The world’s largest economy would then be caught in a stagflation trap – a slump, but with high inflation.

A more immediate concern is that a blind rush into the US currency could cause the carry-trade to go badly wrong – with those who’ve borrowed in dollars suddenly owing more, while their dollar-funded investments elsewhere are worth less.

A rapid "unwinding" could cause major losses at financial institutions, posing renewed systemic dangers. Far from being a safe haven, the dollar is the likely source of the next financial crisis.

  • Liam Halligan is chief economist at Prosperity Capital Management

Americans Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

Americans Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

the poppy

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. set the stage for the Afghan (and Pakistan) war eight years ago, when it handed out drug dealing franchises to warlords on Washington’s payroll. Now the Americans, acting as Boss of All Bosses, have drawn up hit lists of rival, “Taliban” drug lords. “It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol.”

American Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.”

If you’re looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it’s the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

An article in the current issue of Harper’s magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation, it’s near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord’s top operatives and met with the U.S. and Canadian officers that collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.

The alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban. The Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.

It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade.”

Is it any wonder, then, that the United States so often launches air strikes against civilian wedding parties, wiping out the greater part of bride and groom’s extended families? America’s drug-dealing allies have been dropping dimes on rival clans and tribes, using the Americans as high-tech muscle in their deadly feuds. Now the Americans and their European occupation partners have institutionalized the rules of gangster warfare with official hit lists of drug dealers to be killed or captured on sight – lists drawn up by other drug lords affiliated with the occupation forces.

This is the “war of necessity” that President Barack Obama has embraced as his own. It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade. Obama’s generals call for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops in hopes of lessening their dependency on the militias and police forces currently controlled by American-allied drug dealers. But of course, that will only push America’s Afghan partners in the drug trade into the arms of the Taliban, who will cut a better deal. Then the generals were argue that they need even more U.S. troops.

The Americans created this drug-saturated hell, and their occupation is now doomed by it. Unfortunately, they have also doomed millions of Afghans in the process.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted