News Brief – August 7, 2012
While the world’s media is largely focused on the London Olympics, the casualties mount in Afghanistan.
On the morning of the day British athletes won a record number of Olympic gold medals, a pre-dawn remote-controlled explosion killed nine civilians in a minibus on the outskirts of the capital Kabul
A few hours later a French soldier and 10 Taliban fighters were killed in an early morning shootout following an ambush in Kapisa province, near Kabul.
Later on Tuesday a powerful truck bomb exploded at a NATO military base some 70 kilometres south of Kabul, amid growing signs that the conflict is spreading to areas in and around the Afghan capital.
Afghan police said at least 17 civilians and three soldiers were wounded in the blast.
“I was on my way to school when there was suddenly a huge explosion which knocked me down,” schoolboy Samiullah said at the scene.
“I saw thick smoke and flames rising from the inside of this camp,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile in the latest ‘green on blue’ attack – where Afghan Army personnel turn their weapons on their supposed allies – two men wearing Afghan Army uniforms killed an American soldier.
A US spokesman later confirmed the death of an American soldier in eastern Afghanistan, and said his two suspected killers were in custody. An investigation is under way to determine whether they are Taliban infiltrators or disaffected Afghan Army soldiers.
The ‘green-on-blue’ attacks have become a regular feature in recent times and have fuelled mounting mistrust between the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan Army.
The latest incident takes the overall toll this year to at least 30 ISAF members killed, in 21 ‘green-on-blue’ attacks.
The Taliban, who say they have infiltrated Afghan army ranks, have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks.
However, many more have been attributed to disaffected Afghan Army personnel, whose disaffection has been blamed on cultural differences and antagonism with their Western allies.
Despite the continuing violence however, we shouldn’t loose sight of the fact that the U.S. led invasion has largely achieved what it originally set out to accomplish.
In July 2000 the then ruling Taliban banned the growing of poppies as a sin against the teachings of Islam. At the time 75% of the world’s opium crop was grown in Afghanistan.
By the following May the country’s narcotics trade had all but ground to a halt and only with the U.S. led invasion and the removal of the Taliban in October did it revive. Since then Afghanistan’s drugs trade has gone from strength to strength.
It may not be broadcast in the corporate media but the fact is that wars have long been fought to ensure the unhindered production and distribution of drugs. From the poppy fields of Helmand province today to the Opium Wars in Victorian times drugs have been a powerful weapon to undermine potential opposition to imperial rule and generate vast amounts of unaccounted revenue in the process.
What’s more, even if Afghanistan descends into factionalism and internecine conflict after the scheduled departure of the ISAF in 2014, the flow of drugs and the attendant revenue is likely to continue. The lure of easy money being considered too powerful in a country as mired in poverty as Afghanistan.
It cannot be overemphasised, if only because it’s staring us in the face and the corporate media won’t acknowledge it. The war in Afghanistan is primarily a war FOR drugs and the unaccountable revenue they generate.