Another record poppy crop in Afghanistan expected this year
The data on the rapidly growing production of opium in Afghanistan this year stirred a worldwide wave of criticism of the United States and Great Britain for the patent inefficiency of their struggle with drugs in this country.
Addressing Cabinet members and representatives of tribes and religious communities, President Karzai condemned the West for the inability to coordinate international efforts within the framework of the war on drugs and their production. According to The New York Son (August 29, 2007 issue), Karzai urged tribal chieftains to exert their influence and have cultivation of opium on the territories they controlled reduced.
Antonio Maria Costa, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, evaluated poppy crop in Afghanistan this year as a "mega-crop", something no other country in the world matched in the last one hundred years. According to the UN, 8.2 thousand tons of opium will be produced in Afghanistan in 2007, a 34% rise against the last year figure. The UN executive encouraged the NATO command in Afghanistan to be more energetic in assisting local law enforcement agencies in their struggle against drugs and to relay relevant reconnaissance data to the latter.
Experts admit that the new US anti-drug strategy proclaimed in Washington on August 9 cannot be applied for the time being because the United States on the one hand and Great Britain and Afghanistan on the other viciously disagree on the matter of the use of aircraft-sprayed chemicals against poppy fields.
Specialists point out meanwhile that NATO is particularly upset by the state of affairs in Gilmen, southern part of Afghanistan, that accounts for more than 50% of the nationwide production of opium. Mostly controlled by the Talibs, this province hosts several dozens underground laboratories where heroin is produced. More than 16 tons of chemicals used in heroin production were confiscated in Afghanistan this year.
As a matter of fact, UN experts even report overproduction of opium in Afghanistan. What information is available indicates that up to 3,300 tons of opium are stored in the Talib-controlled southern provinces of Afghanistan, ready for sale whenever terrorist organizations find themselves short of funds.
Experts in the meantime comment on official London's growing role in Afghani matters. Great Britain enlarged its military presence in Afghanistan. Since it traditionally views Afghanistan as a country in the orbit of British influence, could it be that Great Britain is actually trying to oust Washington from this country?
Rossiiskiye Vesti, No 30, September 14, 2007, p. 8; © Translated by Ferghana.Ru