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22 Oct, 2010 03:14

Afghans abandoned to fight drugs on their own – Russia’s drug control chief

Russia and the US are set to join forces to tackle the Afghan drug problem. The head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, Viktor Ivanov, has agreed on an action plan with his American colleagues.

There is definitely an understanding that drug trafficking from Afghanistan is a common enemy and Russia and the US seem more than eager to fight it – and they are doing so.

Drug control chiefs of both countries said Russia and the US now share sensitive information in order to crack down on drug trafficking networks in Afghanistan, and also track down their assets.

The drug business in Afghanistan is worth around US$70 billion a year, with some of this money going to sponsor terrorists.

Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s drug control service, was also talking about this well known connection between heroin and terror.

Russia and the US realize the problem, but differ on the solution. Russia suggests eradicating all poppy fields and labs where heroin is being produced in Afghanistan.

The US says it is up to the Afghan government to make that decision.

Russia’s argument is that the Afghan government cannot stand up against a multi-billionaire drug master, therefore stronger nations have to put an end to it. Russia has made its point many times to the US and NATO coalition forces that Russia has to be co-operated with on the issue of drug trafficking – but to no avail.

“The US Congress evaluates the Taliban’s drug production to be worth $150 million, whereas all Afghan drug production is estimated at $65 billion, so we can see the Taliban’s sector is only 0.2 per cent,” Viktor Ivanov pointed out. “Obviously, it is not the main producer. The international forces [in Afghanistan] say they will eliminate only the drug production related to the Taliban, in other words all 150,000 personnel will be directed to eliminate just 0.2 per cent of the drug production. The remaining 99.8 per cent is left to be destroyed by Afghan forces,” he concluded.

The official argument from NATO and one of its key members – the US – for not eradicating the poppy fields is that they do not want to destroy the only source of income for the local population.

Russia says this argument does not work. Viktor Ivanov notes that the only ones who benefit from it are the drug lords, and definitely not the Afghan peasants.

An average Afghan peasant household makes $70 a year for growing poppies. Ivanov says international forces should be after the drug lords in Afghanistan because they leave peasants with no choice but to grow poppies.

Further, in the last nine years of war in Afghanistan that policy brought nothing but death as Afghan drugs killed more than one million people worldwide.