by Peter Dale Scott
July 14, 2010
Peter Dale Scott, a former
Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road
to 9/11, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11,
and the Deep Politics of
His American War Machine: Deep
Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan
is in press,
due in fall 2010 from Rowman & Littlefield.
He wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal.
Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, "Kyrgyzstan, the U.S.and the
Global Drug Problem: Deep Forces and the Syndrome of Coups, Drugs,
and Terror," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 28-3-10, July 12, 2010.
Will the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan lead to greater instability, and
perhaps an expansion of the current conflict in Central Asia?
There are good reasons to be concerned. Deep
forces, not adequately understood, are at work there; and these forces have
repeatedly led to major warfare in the past.
The pattern of events unfolding in Kyrgyzstan is ominously reminiscent of
how America became involved in Laos in the 1960s, and later in Afghanistan
in the 1980s. American covert involvement in those countries soon led to
civil wars producing numerous casualties and refugees.
It will take strenuous leadership from both
Obama in Washington and Medvedev in Moscow to prevent a third major conflict
from breaking out in
I call the pattern I refer to “a Laotian
syndrome” of coups, drugs, and terror, since it was first clearly
illustrated by American interventions in Laos in the late 1950s and 1960s.
The syndrome involves a number of independent
but interactive elements whose interconnection in the past has not generally
been recognized. What it reflects is not a single agenda, but a predictable
symbiosis of divergent groups, responding to the powerful forces that the
drug traffic creates.
In this syndrome, something like the following pattern emerges.
Covert U.S. activity results in the
ousting of a moderate government, and its replacement by a more
corrupt and unpopular one, unsupported by the culture of the country
on which it is imposed.
A successor regime, to maintain its
uncertain grip on power, intensifies its control over the local drug
This control involves collaboration with
local drug mafias, leading to their expansion.
The flow of drugs from the country (or
through, in the case of Kyrgyzstan) increases significantly.
Eventually, in the context of weakened
legitimacy and strengthened illegitimacy, a successor government is
What ensues is a violent civil war.
The final outcome is a government not to
The pattern does not repeat itself identically.
In Laos, CIA intrigue and money in 1959 produced
an unpopular pro-American regime under right-wing general Phoumi Nosavan,
which lasted eighteen months.1 Similar CIA intrigues in
Afghanistan two decades later completely backfired, and produced instead an
equally unpopular anti-American regime under Nur Mohammed Taraki, which
lasted sixteen months.2
But the root problem was the same:
the CIA’s gratuitous destabilization of
an inoffensive country encouraged local intrigues and paranoia, and soon
produced an unstable and divisive government without a popular base.
Eventually a resulting weakened government (the next in Laos, a little later
in Afghanistan) favored both drug and terrorist activity in its territory,
as predictably as a pine forest weakened by drought will invite an
infestation of beetles.
The longer-term result was a country where civil politics had been replaced
by civil war. In the case of Laos and Afghanistan U.S. covert activity,
waged as part of the Cold War, produced Soviet military and intelligence
responses. (It may, in the case of Afghanistan, have been designed to
produce such responses.)
Former Carter advisor
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who authorized the CIA’s covert Afghan
operations of 1978-79, later boasted to a French newspaper:
The secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians into the
Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? On the day that the Soviets
officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, saying, in
essence: 'We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam
When asked whether Islamic fundamentalism represented a world menace,
The last decade of Kyrgyz history suggests that U.S. and Russian covert
operators have continued to tussle in the “great game” of dominating the
Central Asian heartland.
And once again, while the leaders of both
countries to evolve common policies for Kyrgyzstan, there may be bureaucrats
below them who harbor more belligerent intentions.
To the general public, it would seem obvious
that none of these developments have been in the interests of either America
or the world.
Yet American agencies have still not learned
from the obvious fiasco of their Laotian venture, which resulted in a huge
increase in opium production, before this peaceful Buddhist nation ceased
(thanks to American efforts) to be neutralist, and instead became nominally
America’s destabilization of remote Laos, a neutral and harmless nation, was
in accordance with the ideological doctrine being peddled in a book by three
policy hawks at the time:
A Forward Strategy for America, by Robert Strausz-Hupé, William R. Kintner and Stefan T. Possony.
The book rejected
coexistence as a foreign policy, and argued for “a strategy of active
pressures directed against the communist bloc,” wherever it was seen to be
The American sponsored “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan (March 2005) is a
conspicuous product of the forward strategy doctrine. This is no accident:
it came at a time when
George W. Bush repeatedly spoke of a “forward strategy of
freedom,” or a “forward strategy for freedom.”4
But by the 21st century the forward strategy in
countries with drug economies had a track record, which its advocates in
Washington might well have reviewed before advocating an intervention so
close to both Russia and China.
In 1959 the CIA attempted to impose a right-wing government in Laos: after a
decade and a half of expanding drug trafficking and a futile, bloody,
drug-financed war, Laos became (at least nominally) a communist nation.
Undeterred by the dismal outcome in Laos, in
1978-79 Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Gates,
and the CIA mobilized right-wing elements again in Afghanistan, another
nation contiguous to the then Soviet Union.5
The immediate result was the same as Laos:
replacement of a neutralist regime by a radical and polarizing one (in this
case communist), followed by another radical increase in drug trafficking,
and another decade of bloody and unsuccessful war.
What were the forward strategists hoping for in Kyrgyzstan?
In April of this
year the unpopular régime installed by the 2005 Tulip Revolution was itself
replaced. Although it is too early to predict the outcome of these
dislocations, thousands of lives have been lost in the ethnic violence of
June 2010, and drug traffickers are apparently profiting from the near
anarchy to consolidate their hold on southern Kyrgyzstan.
That is just what happened to Laos in 1959; it
is what Jimmy Carter’s drug advisor David Musto warned would happen in
Afghanistan in 1980.6 Did someone want it to happen again?
All in all, the coup-drug-terror syndrome in Kyrgyzstan well illustrates the
Marxist dictum that history repeats itself, first as tragedy (Afghanistan in
1978-80), and the second time as farce.
Syndrome in Kyrgyzstan
After the break-up of the former Soviet Union in 1991, Kyrgyzstan, under the
leadership of Askar Akayev, was relatively the most moderate and open
government among the six post-Soviet “stans” of Central Asia.
Alone among the successor strong men, Akayev was
not a long-time Communist Party apparatchik, but an intellectual who read
Heine, a physicist,
“a researcher in St Petersburg and an
associate of legendary Russian physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.”
It is true that Akayev’s initial efforts to make
Kyrgyzstan an open and pluralistic democracy did not last long: an on-going
economic crisis made his regime increasingly unpopular.8
Meanwhile he soon came under pressure from
neighboring Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and China to crack down on the dissidents
who were using Kyrgyzstan as a base for mobilizing against their home
countries.9 Eventually the country’s economic problems led to
popular protests and their brutal suppression.
But in international policy Akayev managed at first to maintain good
relations with both the U.S. and Russia. In December 2001, following 9/11,
he granted America a vital base at Manas, for support of its war effort in
Almost immediately, the Pentagon awarded the
Akayev family payoffs on fuel supplies to Manas, via two Gibraltar-based
companies (named Red Star and Mina) set up by a retired U.S. Army lieutenant
colonel.10 American dollars proceeded to accelerate government
corruption, just as they had earlier in Laos and Afghanistan.
Then in October 2003 Akayev allowed Putin to reopen an old Soviet base in
Kant, as what was described as “a deterrent to international terrorism” in
nearby Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.11
This move was not well received.
Though [Kant was] less than a quarter of the size of Manas, Akayev’s
decision landed him on America’s “watch list” and increased aid flowed to
the Kyrgyz opposition via American NGOs. In 2004 Washington in assisting the
democratic process directed $12 million, an amount six times the ‘formal”
rent for Manas, into Kyrgyzstan in the form of scholarships and donations,
while the State Department even funded TV station equipment in the restive
southern provincial town of Osh.
George Soros through his various foundations
also helped fund the opposition, while
Freedom House operated a printing
press in Bishkek.12
The So-Called Tulip
Revolution of 2005
For the reasons cited above, Akayevlost acceptance in Washington, just like
the neutralist Prince Souvanna Phouma in Laos in the 1950s, or
Mohammed Daud in Afghanistan in the 1970s.
Akayev was overthrown in the so-called “Tulip
Revolution” of March 2005, by far the bloodiest and least democratic of all
the so-called “color revolutions” that had already changed governments in
Serbia (2002), Georgia (2003), and the Ukraine (2004).
Those regime changes had been essentially
nonviolent. In the Tulip Revolution, however, the London Independent
reported on March 26, 2005 that,
“According to hospital officials, two
people had been killed and 360 wounded in the violence, and 173 were still
In truth the so-called Tulip Revolution was no revolution in the true sense
at all, but a palace coup, replacing the northern Kyrgyz coterie behind
Akayev with a new southern coterie behind his replacement, Kurmanbek
Craig Smith in the New York Times
acknowledged as much even before the coup was over:
A malaise is settling over this country as
the uprising a week ago begins to look less like a democratically
inspired revolution and more like a garden-variety coup, with a handful
of seasoned politicians vying for the spoils of the ousted government.
''Let's not pretend that what happened
here was democratic,'' said Edil Baisalov, one of the country's
best-known democracy advocates, speaking to clearly disheartened
students beneath huge Soviet-era portraits of Lenin, Marx and Engels
in the auditorium of what has been the American University since
Mr. Baisalov bemoaned what he said
Kyrgyzstan lost out on when the presidential palace was stormed and
President Askar Akayev fled: the kind of cathartic national experience
that he witnessed in Ukraine as its Orange Revolution unfolded.
That was a slow-building, well-organized
event that took two months to reach a successful conclusion.
''What Ukraine went through was very
important to their democratic development,'' he said. ''We didn't
have that great emotional experience of civic education.''14
As a symptom that the deep politics of
Kyrgyzstan were unchanged, the U.S. Manas supply contracts, which earlier
benefited Akayev’s family, were promptly taken over by Bakiyev’s son Maksym.
Nevertheless Ariel Cohen claimed in the Washington Times that,
“the people of Kyrgyzstan have won their
freedom;” and "he attributed the changeover, with good reason, to
President George W. Bush's words spoken in his Inaugural Address and
State of the Union speech.” 15
President Bush himself gave an imprimatur to the
Visiting Georgia in May 2005, he told Georgian
Georgia will become the main partner of the
United States in spreading democracy and freedom in the post-Soviet
space. This is our proposal. We will always be with you in protecting
freedom and democracy… You are making many important contributions to
freedom’s cause, but your most important contribution is your example.
Hopeful changes are taking places from Baghdad to Beirut and Bishkek
And indeed it was true that, as the right-wing
Jamestown Foundation in Washington revealed,
“three Georgian parliamentarians, once
active engineers of Georgia's Rose Revolution, had paid an unofficial
visit to Kyrgyzstan to support the attempted ‘Tulip Revolution’ there.”
But this was only one aspect of a
U.S.-coordinated effort. According to Der Spiegel in April 2005,
As early as February, Roza Otunbayeva [one of Bakiyev’s
co-conspirators in 2005] pledged allegiance to a small group of partners and
sponsors of the Kyrgyz revolution, to 'our American friends' at Freedom
House (who donated a printing press in Bishkek to the opposition), and to
George Soros, a speculator who
previously helped unseat Edward Shevardnadze's government in Georgia.
Trying to help the democratic process, the
Americans poured some $12 million into Kyrgyzstan in the form of
scholarships and donations.18
The Post-Tulip Bakiyev
Government – and Drugs
There seems little doubt that although the Akayev government had been
corrupt, corruption only increased under the new post-Tulip Bakiyev regime.
In the words of Columbia University Professor Alexander Cooley,
the Bakiyev family "ran the country like a
Bakiyev and Rumsfeld
More specifically, the Bakiyevfamily, according
to Peter Leonard of Associated Press, took complete control of the drug
traffic transiting the country.
Authorities and analysts have little doubt that Bakiyev and his relatives
are at the heart of the drug trade.
"The whole Bakiyev family is involved in
drug trafficking," said Alexander Knyazev, a respected independent
political analyst in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.
"After Kurmanbek Bakiyev came to power, all drug lords were killed,
and (his elder brother) Zhanybek Bakiyev consolidated most of the
drug trafficking in his hands."
Acting deputy prime minister and general
prosecutor Azimbek Beknazarov also endorses the view that Bakiyev and
his family have interests in the drug trade, although no specific
criminal probes have yet been initiated into those allegations.20
In October 2009 Bakiyev abolished the Kyrgyz
Drug Control Agency, leading the Jamestown Foundation to speculate that Bakiyev was,
“centralizing illegal control over the drug
economy, [and was] disinterested in international initiatives to control
It added that,
Overall, roughly five identifiable criminal
groups control drug transit through Kyrgyzstan. Although they are known
to the security structures, these groups have ties to the government, or
at times represent government and therefore are free to carry out their
activities with impunity.21
In May 2010 former Kyrgyz Deputy Security
Council Secretary Alik Orozov told a Bishkek newspaper that the Drug
Control Agency had been closed by Janysh Bakiyev, who wished to take full
control over drug trafficking.
The charge was endorsed by the former deputy
head of the former Drug Control Agency, Vitaliy Orozaliyev, who added that,
problems started to emerge at the level of
the US Department of State. All initiatives to extend the financing of
the Drug Control Agency were axed exactly there. All previous US
ambassadors were regular guests of the Drug Control Agency. However,
with the arrival of [US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan] Tatiana Gfoeller [in
2008], all contacts were cut as if they were cut with a knife.
She demonstrated full indifference to the
agency, she fully distanced herself from this project and she did not
accept our invitations. She even did not want to give accommodation to
our US colleagues [in the DEA] - who wanted to set up something like a
bureau of their own in Bishkek - in the territory of the US embassy.
What caused such a sharp turn in US
diplomacy to the problems of fighting drug-related crimes in Kyrgyzstan
is only anyone's guess.22
The Counter-Coup of April
Bakiyev’s drug involvement does not appear to have aroused any protest in
But in February of 2009 Kyrgyzstan’s parliament
voted 78-1 to close the U.S. air base at Manas, and in the same month
Bakiyev announced in Moscow that he would close Manas and accept more than
$2 billion in emergency assistance and investments from Russia.
the Kyrgyz government ended up
double-crossing Moscow by accepting an initial $300 million payment
before it renegotiated a higher rent with the United States for the
renamed "Manas Transit Center."
As a result, relations between Moscow
and Bishkek plummeted to an all-time low, while Bakiyev's government
gleefully cashed in the new checks provided by both Moscow mostly
minority Uzbeks, say they were attacked by the Kyrgyz military and the
police, and their accounts have been backed up by independent observers.23
But Bakiyev’s glee was short-lived. His
political opponents, aware of and appalled by his mercenary manipulations,
united in April 2010 in a successful, Russian-supported effort to overthrow
According to the Christian Science Monitor,
Many believe the coup in Kyrgyzstan was
staged by the Russians, who were quietly unhappy with the previous
leader. The Kremlin considered Mr. Bakiyev not loyal enough, as he
appeared reluctant to close America’s Manas air base, which plays a
critical role in resupplying US troops in nearby Afghanistan.24
Russia’s displeasure with Bakiyev was also
spelled out by a writer for the
Medvedev was uncompromising in asserting
Russian domination of the post-Soviet space. He insisted that the
government of the Kyrgyz President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was overthrown in
a bloody revolution last week that left over 80 dead and some 1,500
wounded, due to Bakiyev’s inconsistency in opposing the US military
presence in Central Asia.
According to Medvedev, Bakiyev first ordered
the US and its allies to leave the airbase, Manas, near the Kyrgyz
capital Bishkek. Then he allowed the Americans to continue to use Manas
to transfer personnel and supplies into Afghanistan, renaming the
airbase into “a transit center” and increasing payments for the lease.
Now, Medvedev joked, all may see the results of “such a consistent
(www.kremlin.ru, April 14)
The message sent to the Washington elite is obvious: keep out of
Moscow’s sphere of influence. Medvedev insisted the US “must not teach
Russia how to live” 25
(RIA Novosti, April 14)
Deep Forces and the Kyrgyz
crisisof June 2010
It is too early to speak with confidence about who was responsible for the
major ethnic violence of June 2010, with more bloodshed than in the previous
episode of 1990.
There seems no reason however to doubt the
finding of UN observers that the fighting was not spontaneous, but,
“’orchestrated, targeted and well-planned’ -
set off by organized groups of gunmen in ski masks.”26
Since the June events, the new Kyrgyz regime has
charged that they were fomented by the Bakiyev family, in conjunction with
at least one drug lord and representatives of the jihadi Islamic Movement of
The head of Kyrgyzstan’s State Security Service, Keneshbek Duishebaev, is
claiming that relatives of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev conspired with
Islamic militants to destabilize southern Kyrgyzstan.
According to Duishebaev, Maxim Bakiyev, the son of ousted president Bakiyev,
met with representatives of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in
Dubai, while the former president’s brother Janysh brokered deals with
Afghan Taliban and Tajik fighters.
“The transfer of militants to the south of
the republic was made on the eve of the June events from Afghanistan’s
Badakhshan province via Tajikistan’s Khorog and Murghab districts.
Cooperation in transferring [the militants] was made by a former Tajik
opposition commander and drug baron, whose contact was Janysh Bakiyev,”
Taliban, Tajik, IMU, and Islamic Jihad Union
(IJU) fighters were offered $30 million in payment, he added...
Duishebaev warned that Islamic militants are seeking to exploit the
unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan.
“Recently, IMU leaders and warlords held
a meeting in south Waziristan, Pakistan. The participants of the meeting
concluded the current situation in Osh and Jalal-abad provinces are
favorable for sparking destructive activities across the all over the
region,” he said.27
The Times (London) reported these charges, and
The interim president, Roza Otunbayeva, said
that "many instigators have been detained and they are giving evidence
on Bakiyev's involvement in the events".
Kyrgyzstan's deputy security
chief, Kubat Baibalov, claimed that a trained group of men from
neighboring Tajikistan had fired indiscriminately at Uzbeks and Kyrgyz
last week from a car with darkened windows to provoke conflict."28
According to many sources, the IMU is a network
grouping ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and
relying heavily on narcotics to finance its anti-government activities.29
However the new government’s charges against Bakiyev and the IMU may have
It has become increasingly clear that the
victims of the massacre were,
“mostly minority Uzbeks [who] say they were
attacked by the Kyrgyz military and the police, and their accounts have
been backed up by independent observers.”30
The Uzbek neighborhoods were left in ruins,
while ethnic Kyrgyz areas were largely untouched.31
It may emerge
that the violence grewout of a prior conflict in May involving local mafia
leaders, in the wake of the April 2010 coup.32 This led in late
May to riots that former President Bakiyev was suspected of organizing.33
The situation calls for an impartial international investigation. If the
current conflict is not thoroughly resolved, it is likely that both Islamic
extremists and local drug traffickers will be drawn into it.34
The Kyrgyz Crisis and
One cannot lightly dismiss the Kyrgyz government charge that the IMU had met
in South Waziristan to plan violence in Central Asia.
Even before the June riots, there had been a
disturbing report that the IMU (and its Turkic split-off, the Islamic Jihad
Union or IJU) had established control over parts of South Waziristan, and
were planning and training for extended activities in Central Asia.35
Of particular concern was the following
The News International recently reported
that affluent settlers from the Uzbek and Tajik areas of Afghanistan had
come to Waziristan and Tank and had established mini-states. The Uzbek-
and Tajik-Afghans were growing in both numbers and wealth, posing a
threat to local tribesmen, the story said.36
This raises the crucial question of the source
of this jihadi wealth.
Was it just from wealthy jihadi sympathizers in
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, as has been alleged of the IMU? 37
Was it also a by-product of the heroin traffic, as others have surmised?
Were external intelligence agencies exploiting the situation for their own
Or, most alarming of all, was it from a milieu fusing jihadi activity, the actions of intelligence networks, and the alarming
heroin traffic? 38
Whatever the answer, it is obvious that the
current disturbances in Kyrgyzstan, and corresponding breakdown of weak
central authority, are a boon to extremism and drug trafficking alike.
The last possibility, that there is a deep force behind drug, intelligence,
and jihadi activity, would be consistent with the legacy of the CIA’s
earlier interventions in Afghanistan, Laos, and Burma, and with America’s
overall responsibility for the huge increases in global drug trafficking
since World War II.
It is important to understand that the more than
doubling of Afghan opium drug production since the U.S. invasion of 2001
merely replicates the massive drug increases in Burma, Thailand, and Laos
between the late 1940s and the 1970s.
These countries also only became major sources
of supply in the international drug traffic as a result of CIA assistance
(after the French, in the case of Laos) to what would otherwise have been
only local traffickers.
As early as 2001 Kyrgyzstan’s location had made it a focal point for
transnational trafficking groups.
According to a U.S. Library of Congress
Report of 2002,
Kyrgyzstan has become a primary center of all aspects of the narcotics
industry: manufacture, sale, and drug trafficking.
Kyrgyzstan’s location adjacent to major routes
across the Tajik mountains from Afghanistan combines with ineffectual
domestic smuggling controls to attract figures from what a Kyrgyz newspaper
report characterized as,
“an international organization uniting an
unprecedentedly wide circle of members in the United States, Romania,
Brazil, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan... These are no half-literate
Tajik-Afghan drug runners, but professionals who have passed through a
probation period in the mafia clans of the world narcotics system...”39
Others, notably Sibel Edmonds in the United
States, have alleged that there is a network of drug-financed and
intelligence-related terror activities stretching from Kyrgyzstan to
Azerbaijan, Chechnya, and Turkey.40
It is because of this possible convergence of disparate elements on the
Kyrgyz intelligence-terror-drug scene that I have described the topic of
this paper as a syndrome, not as a single-minded scheme or stratagem. Some
of the possible components in this syndrome are barely visible. In his
Descent into Chaos, Ahmed Rashid refers to the existence of
a “Gulf mafia,” to which the Taliban by 1998 was selling drugs directly.41
A search of Lexis-Nexis yields no results for
“gulf mafia,” and there is no other hit in Google Books. Yet there is
abundant evidence for such a mafia or mafias, even if little is known about
it or them.42
Perhaps the most notorious example of such a drug mafia in the Persian Gulf
is the D-Company of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, one of the two men (the other is
Mexico’s Joaquin Guzman) to be listed both on the Forbes' Most Wanted
Fugitives list and also on the Forbes list of billionaires.
merits a special section in a recent Congressional Research Service report
on the nexus between criminal syndicates and terrorist groups.
Entitled "International Terrorism and
Transnational Crime: Security Threats, U.S. Policy, and Considerations for
Congress," the report described Dawood’s involvement with al Qaeda, the
Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).43
This detailed report did not mention the
allegation by Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, that
“worked with the U.S. to help finance the
Afghan mujahideen during the 1980s, and that because he knows too much
about the America’s ‘darker secrets’ in the region, Pakistan could never
turn him over to India.’”44
The Congressional Research Service Report cites
Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company as its prime example of what it calls a fusion
crime-terror organization (its next example is the FARC in Colombia).
It is possible that the leading Mexican cartels
should also be regarded as fusion networks, since their practice of
terroristic violence has become such an integral part of the political
process in Mexico. We can perhaps predict that such fusion networks will
continue to dominate both the heroin and the cocaine traffics, because
terrorism and trafficking are so useful to each other.
Terrorism creates the kind of anarchy that
favors drug production and trafficking, while drug trafficking provides the
most convenient and local source of funds for terrorism. Add the
demonstrated interest of ISI and other intelligence agencies in both
activities, and you have the right environment to foster what I have called
the coup-drug-terror syndrome.
In all there are many discrete components of the coup-drug-terror syndrome,
beginning with the naïve American belief that imposing American political
values on distant countries benefits all concerned, including the peace and
security of the globe. The various elements do not have to collude together.
But past experience suggests what are the likely
outcomes of ill-considered policies that may have been meant to achieve
something quite different.
and the Kyrgyz Crisis
What is particularly alarming about this syndrome is that, both in Laos and
in Afghanistan, the outcome was a decade of devastating and incompletely
At present there are no signs that Moscow and
Washington are willing to fight over Kyrgyzstan. Fortunately the new leader
for the moment, Roza Otunbayeva, has good relations with both capitals, and
they are promising her support.
Yet there are signs that in both capitals there is tension between the
dominant policy and militant factions less willing to compromise.
In Washington, for example, Michael McFaul, Obama's senior director for Russian affairs, said of Bakiyev’s overthrow in
"This is not some sponsored-by-the-Russians
coup, there's just no evidence of that."45
As previously noted, there were many in
Washington who disagreed, including the ideologically motivated Jamestown
Fred Weir has since described the April
events in the Christian Science Monitor as,
“a Moscow-backed coup d'etat that was thinly
disguised as a popular revolt.”46
In Moscow too there are signs that some desire a
more militant approach to the Kyrgyz crisis than that advocated by President
When Roza Otunbayeva appealed to Medvedev for
Russian troops to help quell the spiraling ethnic crisis in Osh, Medvedev
turned her down:
"'It is an internal conflict, and so far
Russia doesn't see conditions for participating in its resolution,’
Russian presidential press secretary Natalia Timakova said.”47
Medvedev’s caution reflected his underlying
concern about the treacherous instability of Kyrgyzstan, and his concern not
to involve in the conflict the ethnic Russians in Kyrgyzstan. (Russia did
dispatch a paratrooper battalion to its base at Tank in the north of the
country where most ethnic Russians reside.)48
As Medvedev warned Washington in April,
“Kyrgyzstan risked splitting into North and
South. If that happens, extremists might start flowing in, turning the
country into a second Afghanistan.“49
The approach of Viktor Ivanov, a senior advisor
to Putin, was more interventionist.
He told a Russian newspaper on June 20 of this
year that the Osh area was a major region of Islamist-controlled drug
trafficking, and thus a Russian military base should be established there.50
Nevertheless, in Washington four days later,
Medvedev repeated to Obama that,
“I think that the Kyrgyz Republic must deal
with these problems itself. Russia didn’t plan and is not going to send
contingent of peacekeeping forces though consultations on this issue
Later Nikolay Bordyuzha, Secretary-General of the
Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),
"there was no decision made on setting up a Russian
military base in Kyrgyzstan, particularly, near Osh.”52
Viktor Ivanov wears two hats: he is both a
senior member of Russia's National Antiterror Committee, and he also heads
Russia's Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics.
For some time he has been in the forefront of
those Russian officials expressing frustration at the American failure to
limit Afghan drug production.53 He is far from alone in his
concern about the virtual explosion of Afghan drugs reaching Russia since
2001, which many Russian observers have labeled “narco-aggression.”
As early as February 2002, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov raised the
issue of “narco-aggression” with the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe, telling them that whereas Russian border guards
seized only 2 kg of heroin in 1996 on the Afghan-Tajik border, and about 800
kg in 2000, in 2001 more than five metric tons of drugs were seized, and
half of the drugs were heroin.54
According to Sergei Blagov, a reporter in Moscow for ISN Security Watch,
Russian officials have estimated that the
country's drug addiction rates have increased several fold since the
US-led invasion and the offensive against the Taliban's in 2002, which
was followed by hikes in Afghan opium production. Russia is now the
largest heroin consumer in the world, with an estimated 5 million
Facing what it perceives as western willingness to allow opium
production to flourish in Afghanistan, Russia's top officials have
described the situation as “narco-aggression” against Russia and a new
"opium war." They also suggest that the international alliance undertake
aerial spraying against Afghanistan’s poppy fields.
The Russian press has been even less diplomatic, claiming that US and
NATO forces were directly involved in the drug trade. Russian media
outlets allege that the bulk of the drugs produced in Afghanistan’s
southern and western provinces are shipped abroad on US planes.
Not surprisingly, Russia regards with resentment NATO’s liberal approach
toward the Afghan drug industry and the alliance’s reluctance to
cooperate in fighting the drug trade. Continued NATO inaction on the
drug issue could potentially undermine Russia's security cooperation
with the West on crucial matters such as strategic arms reduction and
Repeatedly Viktor Ivanov has appealed to America
to eradicate poppy fields in Afghanistan as systematically as it has
attacked coca plantations in Colombia, and for the international community
to join Russia in this appeal.56
On June 9, 2010, both he and President Medvedev
addressed an International Forum on Afghan Drug Production (which I
attended), in an effort to muster this international support.57
I myself share the American conclusion that
spraying opium fields would be counterproductive, because it would fatally
weaken efforts to woo Afghan farmers away from the Taliban. But I do think
that the interests of peace and security in Central Asia would be well
served if America brought Russia more closely into joint activities against
the global drug trade.
And as a researcher, I believe that Russia has a legitimate grievance
against America’s current Afghan strategy, which has left wide open a major
drug corridor into Russia from the northeastern Afghan province of
America’s Skewed Opiate Strategy in Afghanistan
For this reason America should revise its skewed drug interdiction strategy
At present this is explicitly limited to
attacking drug traffickers supporting the insurgents, chiefly the Pashtun
backers of the Taliban in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.58
Such strategies have the indirect effect of increasing the drug market share
of the north and northeastern provinces.
These provinces support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime
(headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset),59 including the president’s
brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a
former CIA asset.60
In effect America has allied itself with one drug
faction in Afghanistan against another.61
United Nations Department of
Safety and Security,
map of 2007-08 drug
cultivation and security situation in Afghanistan by province.
This strategy has seen repeated attacks on the
poppy fields and markets of the southern provinces.
Meanwhile production in the northeastern
province of Badakhshan, the home of the Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance,
has continued, despite denials, to dominate the economy of that province.62
The statistics for Badakhshan, the most inaccessible of the Afghan
provinces, have been much contested.
A UN map of Afghan poppy production for
2007-2008 showed Badakhshan as the province with the least opium
cultivation: 200 hectares, as opposed to 103,590 for Helmand.63
But LonelyPlanet.com posted an article in 2009, claiming that,
second only to Helmand for opium production. Controlled by Northern
Alliance, opium is the backbone of the local economy.“64
And a detailed article in 2010 reported,
The biggest economic asset of the province,
the one business most of the would-be Badakhshan VIPs find necessary and
profitable to enter into sooner or later, is in fact cross-border
smuggling. Actually, some sources claim that the local control of routes
and border crossings in Badakhshan corresponds to the map of political
power grouping in the province.
Even if Badakhshan has lost its former
status as one of the principal opium producing regions in Afghanistan,
the local expertise and trade links have been maintained. Many
laboratories for heroin processing are active in the province...65
Meanwhile there have also been occasional
reports over the last decade of IMU terrorist movements from South
Waziristan through both Afghan and Tajik Badakhshan.
The Badakhshan drug corridor is a matter of urgent concern for Russia. The
Afghan opiates entering Russia via Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the chief
smuggling route, come from Badakhshan and other northeastern provinces. The
reductions of the last three years in Afghan drug production, while
inadequate overall, have minimally impacted the northeast, allowing opiate
imports into Russia to continue to grow.
Meanwhile the much-touted clearing of opium
poppy from the Afghan northern provinces has in some cases simply seen a
“from opium poppies to another illegal crop:
cannabis, the herb from which marijuana and hashish are derived.”66
As a result, according to U.N. officials,
Afghanistan is now also the world's biggest producer of hashish (another
drug inundating Russia).67
This has added to the flow of drugs up the
Badakhshan-Tajik-Kyrgyz corridor. In short, the political skewing of
America’s Afghan anti-drug policies is a significant reason for the major
drug problems faced by Russia today.
What are the reasons for America’s relative inactivity against Badakhshan
drug flows? Some observers, not only Russian, have wondered if there is a
larger strategy directed against Russia itself.
An article in India’s major journal The Hindu,
entitled “Russia: victim of narco-aggression,” included the following
suggestive reference by John MacDougall, writing for Agence France-Presse:
In 1993, Russian border guards returned to
Tajikistan in an effort to contain the flow of drugs from
opium-producing Afghanistan. In 2002 alone they intercepted 6.7 tonnes
of drugs, half of them heroin.
However, in 2005 Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmon, hoping to win financial aid from the U.S., asked the Russian
border guards to leave, saying Tajikistan had recovered enough from a
five-year civil war (from 1992-97) to shoulder the task. Within months
of the Russian withdrawal, cross-border drug trafficking increased
And we have already noted the Kyrgyz charge that
in 2009 the U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Tatiana Gfoeller, “demonstrated
full indifference” as Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s brother Janysh closed down the
Drug Control Agency there.69
Whatever the causes for the spectacular drug flow, it should be both a
global priority and an American priority to address this crisis more
vigorously. The reasons for doing so are not just humanitarian.
Earlier this year Ivanov told Newsweek,
I have no doubts that drug traffic feeds
terrorism in Russia. Huge amounts of illegal money flow to radical
groups from the drug trade.
At a recent meeting of the Security Council
in Mineralniye Vody [in the North Caucasus], we saw reports that the
drug traffic coming to Dagestan has increased by 20 times over the last
That is what fuels terrorism, because
terrorists buy their communication equipment and weapons with drug
Conclusion - The
Global Banking System and the Global Drug Trade
I believe that Ivanov is correct in linking terrorism to local drug money.
I fear also that there might be an additional
dimension to the problem that he did not mention: transnational deep forces
tapping into the even more lucrative market for drugs in western Europe and
America. Undoubtedly proceeds from the global opiate traffic (estimated at
$65 billion in 2009), are systematically channeled
into major banks, as has
also been well documented for the profits from cocaine trafficking into U.S.
When just one U.S. bank - Wachovia - admits that
it violated U.S. banking laws to handle $378 billion in illicit cocaine
funds, this supplies a measure of how important is the transnational
dimension underlying local fusion drug-terror networks, whether in Dagestan
or the Persian Gulf.71
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, has alleged
“Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat
at the height of the global crisis.”
According to the London Observer, Costa
he has seen evidence that the proceeds of
organized crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to
some banks on the brink of collapse last year.
He said that a majority of the $352bn
(£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a
Costa said evidence that illegal money was
being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his
attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago.
"In many instances, the money from drugs
was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008,
liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid
capital became an important factor," he said.72
As a former diplomat, I sincerely hope that the
U.S. and Russian governments will collaborate to address these drug-related
problems together, in Kyrgyzstan, in Afghanistan, and on the level of
curbing a venal global banking system.
As a researcher, I have to say that I see the U.S. Government as part of the
problem, not as a very likely solution to it. We have too often seen the
U.S. habit of turning to drug traffickers as covert assets in areas where it
is weak, from Burma in 1950 right down to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
I conclude that some other major force will have to be assembled to force a
change in U.S. government behavior. Russia is right in bringing this problem
to the attention of the Security Council, but this is a problem transcending
governments. Perhaps religious organizations around the world could be one
place to start mobilizing an extra-governmental force. Journalists and other
researchers could also supply a component.
Somehow the world must be made aware that it
does indeed face a triple threat: the threat of drugs, the threat of
drug-financed terrorism, and eventually the threat of war.
Meanwhile it is far too early to predict what may eventually transpire
between America and Russia in Kyrgyzstan. But it is none too soon to assert
that history is repeating itself in an alarming and predictable way, and to
recall that the ingredients of the coup-drug-terror syndrome have led to
major warfare in the past.
My personal conclusion is that deep forces, not fully understood, are at
work now in Kyrgyzstan, as they have been earlier in Afghanistan and other
drug-producing countries. My concern is heightened by my increasing
awareness that for decades deep forces have also been at work in Washington.
This was demonstrated vividly by the U.S. government’s determined protection
in the 1980s of the global drug activities of the Bank of Credit and
Commerce International (BCCI), which has been described as “the largest
criminal corporate enterprise ever.”74
A U.S. Senate Report once called BCCI not just
“rogue bank... but a case study of the
vulnerability of the world to international crime on a global scope that
is beyond the current ability of governments to control.”75
Governments indeed long failed to regulate BCCI,
because of its ability to influence governments; and when BCCI was finally
brought down in 1991, it was as the result of relative outsiders like Robert
Morgenthau, District Attorney of New York:
In going after BCCI, Morgenthau's office
quickly found that in addition to fighting off the bank, it would
receive resistance from almost every other institution or entity
connected to BCCI [including] the Bank of England, the British Serious
Fraud Office, and the U.S. government.”76
I have tried to show elsewhere that BCCI was
only one in a series of overlapping banks with similar intelligence
connections, dating back to the 1940s.77
When I first wrote about Washington’s protection of BCCI, I assumed that the
BCCI benefited from its status as an asset or instrument for covert U.S. and
British intelligence strategies. Since then I have come to wonder if CIA and
BCCI were not both alike instruments for some deeper force or forces,
embedded in the state but not confined to it, which has or have been
systematically exploiting the drug traffic as a means to global power.
Not until there is a more general awareness of this deep force problem can
we expect Washington to respond with a more rational drug policy.
My hope in
this essay is to provide a further step in the effort to clarify just what
these deeper forces are, and the extent to which they are responsible for
America’s current, grave, constitutional crisis.
1 Martin Stuart-Fox, A History of Laos
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 112-26.
2 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11, 77-78; Diego Cordovez and Selig S.
Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: the Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 16.
3 Le Nouvel Observateur, January 15-21, 1998. In his relentless
determination to weaken the Soviet Union, Brzezinski also persuaded
Carter to end U.S. sanctions against Pakistan for its pursuit of nuclear
weapons (David Armstrong and Joseph J. Trento, America and the Islamic
Bomb: The Deadly Compromise (Hanover, N.H.: Steerforth Press, 2007).
Thus Brzezinski’s obsession with the Soviet Union helped produce, as
unintended byproducts, both al Qaeda and the Islamic atomic arsenal.
4 For instance, President Bush, State of the Union address, January 20,
2004; and, President Addresses American Legion, February 24, 2006: [W]e’re
advancing our security at home by advancing the cause of freedom across
the world, because, in the long run, the only way to defeat the
terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering
the hopeful alternative of human freedom. . . . [T]he security of our
nation depends on the advance of liberty in other nations.”
5 Scott, Road to 9/11, 71-73, 77; Robert Dreyfuss, Devil's Game: How the
United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (New York:
Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2005), 254.
6 McCoy, Politics of Heroin, 461-62.
7 “Touching Base,” AsiaTimesOnLine, November 15, 2003. Even America’s
Freedom House, which helped to overthrow Akayev, described him in 2002
as “Once regarded as Central Asia's most democratically minded leader
and a self-professed admirer of Russian human rights advocate Dr. Andrei
Sakharov” (Press release of September 20, 2002).in 2005
8 According to the Akayev government's statistics from 2002, more than
four-fifths of Kyrgyz families lived below the poverty line, while
nearly 40 percent of the country's 5 million inhabitants lived on less
than $3 per month. From 1990-96 economic growth declined 49 percent
(John C.K. Daly, “Sino-Kyrgyz relations after the Tulip Revolution,”
Association for Asian Research, June 7, 2005).
9 Ahmed Rashid, Jihad (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 70-71,
10 Aram Roston, Nation, April 21, 2010: “Red Star had the same London
address and phone number as Iraq Today, a purportedly independent and
short-lived newspaper launched in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. The
paper had been set up by a former journalist who worked with Mina Corp.“
11 “Touching Base,” AsiaTimesOnLine, November 15, 2003. A year later
Akayev proclaimed at a public event that all Kyrgyzstan was “firmly and
forever devoted to friendship with great Russia” (Kyrgyz Television
Channel One, in BBC Sumary of World Broadcasts, October 12, 2004).
12 John C.K. Daly, “Kyrgyzstan: Business, Corruption and the Manas
Airbase,” OilPrice, April 15, 2010. A parenthetical aside: in 2005
Kyrgyzstan had a population of 5.5. million and the capital Bishkek less
than 800,000. One wonders what might have happened if the U.S. had
devoted $12 million to reinforcing the nascent democracy first fostered
by Akayev, instead of spending it later to overthrow him. But that is a
13 “Kyrgyzstan’s Leaders Struggle to Cope with Rioting and Looting,”
Independent (London), March 26, 2005.
14 Craig S. Smith, “Kyrgyzstan's Shining Hour Ticks Away and Turns Out
To Be a Plain, Old Coup,” New York Times, April 3, 2005, 6.
15 Ariel Cohen, “Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution,” Washington Times, March
27, 2005, B3. In his Second Inaugural Address Bush had proclaimed: “The
survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of
liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the
expansion of freedom in all the world... So it is the policy of the
United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and
institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of
ending tyranny in our world” (Second Inaugural Address of U.S. President
George W. Bush, January 20, 2005).
16 “Bush: Georgia’s Example a Huge Contribution to Democracy,” Civil
Georgia, May 10, 2005. Likewise Zbigniew Brzezinski was quoted by a
Kyrgyz news source as saying “I believe revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine
and Kyrgyzstan were a sincere and snap expression of the political will”
(Link, March 27, 2008).
17 “Georgian Advisors Stepping Forward in Bishkek,” Jamestown
Foundation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, March 24, 2005: “These members of
parliament are Givi Targamadze, chair of parliament's committee for
defense and security; Kakha Getsadze, a delegate from the ruling United
National Movement Party's faction, and Temur Nergadze, a legislator from
the Republican Party.”
18 "Revolutions Speed Russia's Disintegration,” Der Spiegel, April 4,
2005. cf. F. William Engdahl, “Revolution, geopolitics and pipelines,”
AsiaTimesOnLine, June 30, 2005. I have written elsewhere about the role
of the Albert Einstein Institution in the Georgian “Rose Revolution,” in
"The Global Drug Meta-Group: Drugs, Managed Violence, and the Russian
9/11", Lobster, October 31, 2005.
19 Owen Matthews, “Despotism Doesn’t Equal Stability,” Newsweek, April
20 Peter Leonard, “Heroin trade a backdrop to Kyrgyz violence,” San
Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2010.
21 “Kyrgyzstan Relaxes Control Over Drug Trafficking,” Jamestown
Foundation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 7:24, February 4, 2010.
22 “Kyrgyz ex-drug official says ousted leader's brother behind
abolishing agency,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, July 3, 2010; citing Delo
[Bishkek], May 19, 2010, June 2, 2010.
23 Alexander Cooley, “Manas Hysteria: Why the United States can't keep
buying off Kyrgyz leaders to keep its vital air base open,” Foreign
Policy, April 12, 2010.
24 Dmitry Sidorov, “To make progress on Afghanistan and Russia, Obama
must get Kyrgyzstan right,” Christian Science Monitor, June 24, 2010.
25 Pavel Felgenhauer, “Moscow Opens the Prospect of an Iranian Arms
Embargo,” Jamestown Foundation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 7:73, April 15,
26 'Violence in Kyrgyzstan orchestrated and well-planned,” Ummid.com,
June 16, 2010: “The declaration by the U.N. that the fighting was
"orchestrated, targeted and well-planned" — set off by organized groups
of gunmen in ski masks — bolsters government claims that hired attackers
marauded through Osh, shooting at both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks to inflame old
tensions. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights, said, "It might be wrong to cast it, at least in origin,
as an inter-ethnic conflict. There seems to be other agendas driving it
27 Deirdre Tynan, “Kyrgyz Provisional Government Alleges Bakiyev-Islamic
Militant Link,” EurasiaNet, June 24, 2010. General Abdullo Nazarov, head
of the National Security Ministry office in the Tajik region of
Badakhshan, later denied “reports by some media outlets that Nazarov met
in Tajikistan with Janysh Bakiev, former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek
Bakiev's brother, before the violence broke out in Kyrgyzstan.” He
“blamed the ethnic clashes on some `superpowers’ who he said wanted to
`ignite a fire’ in Kyrgyzstan in order to embed themselves in the
region's affairs” (“Tajik General Denies Involvement In Kyrgyz
Violence,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 1, 2010).
28 Tony Halpin, “Snipers and dread linger in aftermath of pogrom,” Times
(London), June 16, 2010.
29 E.g. “Involvement of Russian Organized Crime Syndicates, Elements in
the Russian Military, and Regional Terrorist Groups in Narcotics
Trafficking in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Chechnya,” Federal
Research Division, Library of Congress, October 2002, 1: “The Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is known to rely heavily on narcotics
trafficking over a number of Central Asian routes to support its
military, political, and propaganda activities. That trafficking is
based on moving heroin from Afghanistan through Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,
and Kyrgyzstan, into Russia, and then into Western Europe.”
30 Andrew E. Kramer, “After Kyrgyz Unrest, a Question Lingers: Why?” New
York Times, June 27, 2010.
31 Andrew E. Kramer, “Investigation by Kyrgyz police said to be
corrupted; Uzbeks are being blamed for violence that targeted them,
rights groups say,” International Herald Tribune, July 2, 2010.
32 Sanobar Shermatova, “Kyrgyz South and Uzbek issue,” Ferghana.ru, June
9, 2010. The story did not identify the mafia leaders. On April 21,
Radio Free Europe reported that the Kyrgyz interim government was
seeking to arrest a naturalized American citizen, Yevgeniy Gurevich, for
embezzling state money together with Kurmanbek Bakiyev's son, Maksim.
One month earlier, Italian authorities announced that Gurevich was
wanted in Rome for embezzling some $2.7 billion from divisions of
Telecom Italia and the Fastweb telecom company (“Kyrgyzstan Wants
Business Partner Of Ex-President's Son Arrested,” Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty, April 21, 2010; cf. “Business Associate Of Kyrgyz
President's Son Wanted By Italy,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March
10, 2010). Rosa Otunbaeva, then in opposition, denounced Gurevich as “an
accountant for the Italian mafia” (“Kyrgyz Opposition Party Demands
President And His Son Resign,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March
12, 2010). Cf. John Daly, OilPrice.com, July 2, 2010: “On 9 March, the
Italian media reported that Judge Aldo Mordzhini in Rome had issued an
arrest warrant for Gurevich on charges of embezzling $2.7 billion from
Italian telecom companies, money laundering and ties to the Mafia.”
33 Aleksandr Shustov, “South Kyrgyzstan: An Epicenter of Coming
Conflicts?” Strategic Cultural Foundation, May 25, 2101. Shustov
astutely predicted the June massacres, warning that “the tensions are
likely to evolve into a conflict similar in character to a civil war.”
Cf. Kramer, New York Times, June 27, 2010: “Former government officials
say the new leaders stumbled early in their rule by failing to win over
the police or oust commanders appointed by the former president. Bolot
E. Sherniyazov, the interior minister, acknowledged difficulties
assuming command of the police, but he said in an interview on Saturday
that he was now largely in control. ‘I am in command of 80 percent of
the Ministry of Interior,'' he said. ‘The other 20 percent is still
waffling.’ The problems first emerged as early as May 13, they say, in a
little-noticed but in hindsight critical confrontation after supporters
of Mr. Bakiyev seized a provincial government building in Jalal-Abad, a
city in the south. Faced with a regional revolt and unable to appeal to
the police, members of the government asked a leader of the Uzbek
minority in the south, Kadyrzhan Batyrov, a businessman and university
director, to help regain control with volunteer gunmen, which he did. In
the tinderbox of ethnic mistrust in the south, this decision turned out
to be a fateful error, according to Alikbek Jekshenkulov, a former
foreign minister, recasting the political conflict in ethnic terms.
‘They got the Uzbeks involved in a Kyrgyz settling of scores,’ Mr.
Jekshenkulov said. The next day, a crowd of thousands of Kyrgyz gathered
to demand that the interim government arrest Mr. Batyrov. ‘Instead of
standing up to this mob, they opened a criminal case against Batyrov,’
even though he had been responding to the government's plea for help,
said Edil Baisalov, who served as Ms. Otunbayeva's chief of staff until
he resigned this month.”
34 Aleksandr Shustov, who in May foresaw the June ethnic riots, warned
further: “In case a new conflict erupts, Uzbekistan - and, possibly
Tajikistan... would inevitably be drawn into it, and thus the
escalation... would breed broader hostilities between three of the five
Central Asian republics and a serious threat to the region's overall
stability” (Shustov, “South Kyrgyzstan: An Epicenter of Coming
35 Javed Aziz Khan, “Foreign Militants Active in Waziristan,”
CentralAsiaOnline, May 27, 2010. Cf. Einar Wigen (2009) Islamic Jihad
Union: al-Qaida’s Key to the Turkic World?
37 Poonam Mann, “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan: Will It Strike Back?”
Strategic Analysis, 26:2, Apr-Jun 2002: ‘The IMU also gets funds from
the Uzbek émigré community in Saudi Arabia. ‘These Uzbek Saudis are very
rich, they hate Karimov and they have enlisted Arabs across the Gulf
States to help Namangani’, says a Tajik politician and friend of
38 Experts differ as to whether the forces underlying jihadism and the
drug traffic are the same or different. Russian drug tsar Viktor Ivanov
has alleged that “Not a single [instance of] drug trafficking goes on
[in Kyrgyzstan] that is not controlled by this terrorist network" of
fundamentalist organizations. (“Russian drugs tsar suggests setting up
military base in Kyrgyzstan,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, June 21, 2010).
Contradicting him, his deputy Nikolay Tsvetkov has asserted, “In
general, drugs and political extremism, just as drugs and terrorism, are
separate major topics. Obviously, drugs, or more to the point, the
billions of drug-dollars are being used to finance and arm bandits in a
great variety of ‘ideological’ hues” (“Russian narcotics service
official views 9-10 June forum on Afghan drug industry.” Interview by
Igor Yavlyanskiy of Nikolay Tsvetkov, deputy chief of Russia's Anti-Drug
Service, BBC Worldwide Monitoring, June 20, 2010).
39 “Involvement of Russian Organized Crime Syndicates, Elements in the
Russian Military, and Regional Terrorist Groups in Narcotics Trafficking
in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Chechnya,” Federal Research Division,
Library of Congress, October 2002, 26; citing
Aleksandr Gold, “Bishkek, Heroin, Interpol?” Vecherniy Bishkek
[Bishkek], 28 December 2001 (FBIS Document CEP 20020107000187).
40 Sibel Edmonds, American Conservative, November 2009.
41 Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure
of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (New York:
Viking, 2008), 320.
42 See for example the abundant references on the Internet to Dawood
Ibrahim, discussed also in Gretchen Peters, Seeds of Terror: How Heroin
Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda (New York: Macmillan, 2009),
43 Congressional Research Service, "International Terrorism and
Transnational Crime: Security Threats, U.S. Policy, and Considerations
for Congress,” January 5, 2010, 15; cf. Bill Roggio, “Dawood Ibrahim, al
Qaeda, and the ISI,” Longwarjournal.org, January 7, 2010: “D-Company is
believed to have both deepened its strategic alliance with the ISI and
developed links to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), which was designated by the
United States as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in 2001. During
this time period, some say D-Company began to finance LeT’s activities,
use its companies to lure recruits to LeT training camps, and give LeT
operatives use of its smuggling routes and contacts.66 Press accounts
have reported that Ibrahim’s network might have provided a boat to the
10 terrorists who killed 173 people in Mumbai in November 2008.67 The
U.S. government contends that D-Company has found common cause with Al
Qaeda and shares its smuggling routes with that terrorist group.68 The
United Nations has added Ibrahim to its list of individuals associated
with Al Qaeda.” A rising successor to D-Company is the split-off Ali
Budesh gang, now based in Bahrain. In March 2010 Ali Budesh declared an
open war, “Operation D,” against Dawood Ibrahim and D-company.
44 Jeremy Hammond, “Role of Alleged CIA Asset in Mumbai Attacks Being
Downplayed,” Foreign Policy Journal, December 10, 2008. Cf. Peter Dale
Scott, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the Global Drug Connection,
and the Road to Afghanistan (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010),
45 Guardian, April 10, 2010.
46 Christian Science Monitor, June 28, 2010.
47 Sergei L. Loiko, “Kyrgyz riot toll rises to 77: Russia rejects a plea
to send troops to quell ethnic clashes in the ex-Soviet republic,” Los
Angeles Times, June 13, 2010, A4. According to Steve LeVine, “Before
Kyrgyzstan turned to Russia, it informally asked Washington for military
assistance including a supply of rubber bullets to quell ethnic
bloodletting in the south of the country, but was turned down”
(“Kyrgyzstan requested U.S. military aid and rubber bullets but was
turned down,” Foreign Policy, June 13, 2010).
48 Canberra Times (Australia), June 17, 2010.
49 “Kyrgyzstan Risks Turning Into Second Afghanistan – Medvedev,” Voice
of Russia, reissued on GlobalResearch.ca, April 14, 2010.
50 ФСКН обвиняет наркобаронов в событиях в Киргизии,” Commersant.ru,
June 21, 2010. Cf. “Russian drugs tsar suggests setting up military base
in Kyrgyzstan,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, June 21, 2010: “ITAR-TASS
quoted Ivanov as saying that drug trafficking was one of the causes of
instability in Kyrgyzstan. ‘A massive flow of drugs from Afghanistan is
going through Kirgizia. Osh, the Kirgiz [city of] Dzhalal-Abad, the
Fergana valley - that is the region which is unfortunately involved in
drug trafficking,’ he said. ‘Not a single [instance of] drug trafficking
goes on that is not controlled by this terrorist network" of
fundamentalist organizations, Ivanov went on.’
51 Daniyar Larimov, “Dmitry Medvedev: Kyrgyzstan has to settle order
itself,” Bishkek News Agency, June 25, 2010. Ivanov’s proposal was also
strongly opposed in Moscow on June 28 by the anti-Kremlin Russian
current affairs website Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal (BBC Worldwide Monitoring,
June 29, 2010).
52 RIANovosti, July 1, 2010, supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring.
53 Sergei Blagov, “Moscow Accuses West of 'Narco-Aggression,’”
International News and Security Network, April 1, 2010.
54 “Russian defence minister calls for fight against drug trafficking,”
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, February 3, 2002. Cf. “The Drug Flow
from Afghanistan Is Skyrocketing!” Website report from Delo [Bishkek],
April 24, 2002 (FBIS Document CEP20020425000145).
55 Sergei Blagov, “Moscow Accuses West of 'Narco-Aggression,’”
International News and Security Network, April 1, 2010.
56 “Afghan drug trade threat to global stability - Russian drug chief,”
RIANovosti, June 8, 2010; “Viktor Ivanov: The real price of
Afghanistan,” Independent (London), June 10, 2010.
57 See Andrei Areshev, “The Afghan Drug Industry — a Threat to Russia
and an Instrument of Geopolitical Gains,” The Global Realm, June 15,
58 James Risen, “U.S. to Hunt Down Afghan Lords Tied to Taliban,” New
York Times, August 10, 2009: ”United States military commanders have
told Congress that... only those [drug traffickers] providing support to
the insurgency would be made targets.”
59 Nick Mills, Karzai: the failing American intervention and the
struggle for Afghanistan (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2007), 79.
60 New York Times, October 27, 2009.
61 See Matthieu Aikins, “The master of Spin Boldak: Undercover with
Afghanistan's drug-trafficking border police,” Harper’s Magazine,
December 2009. Cf. Richard Clark, “United States of America, Chief
Kingpin in the Afghanistan Heroin Trade?” OpEdNews, December 4, 2009,
(no longer viewable at http://www.opednews.com/author/author8235.html):
“What we have is essentially a drug war in Afghanistan, and US forces
are simply helping one side against the other. Unbeknownst to American
taxpayers, drug lords collaborate with the U.S. and Canadian officers on
a daily basis. This collaboration and alliance was forged by American
forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured
and grown ever since. The drug lords have been empowered through U.S.
money and arms to consolidate their drug business at the expense of
drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance
with the Taliban.”
62 This route is of major concern to Russia. It is however secondary in
importance to the so-called “golden route” that “goes overland from
Pakistan's Balochistan province across the border into Iran, then passes
through the northwestern region, which is inhabited by Kurds, and
finally into laboratories in Turkey, where the opium is processed” (Syem
Saleem Shahzad, “Opium gold unites US friends and foes,” Asia Times
Online, September 2, 2005). Some of this heroin also reaches Russia
through the Caucasus.
63 Cf. “Narcotics,” Institute for the Study of War (2009): “Poppy
cultivation is now exclusively limited to the particularly Pushtun
provinces in south and southwest, particularly Farah, Nimroz, Hilmand,
Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.”
64 “Introducing Badakhshan,” Lonely Planet, February 17, 2009.
65 Fabrizio Foschini, “Campaign Trail 2010 (1): Badakhshan – drugs,
border crossings and parliamentary seats,” Afganistan Analysts Network,
June 19, 2010.
66 Kiurk Semple, “The War on Poppy Succeeds, but Cannabis Thrives in an
Afghan Province,” New York Times, November 4, 2007.
67 Vivienne Walt, “Afghanistan's New Bumper Drug Crop: Cannabis,” Time,
April 1, 2010.
68 Vladimir Radyuhin , “Russia: victim of narco-aggression,” The Hindu,
February 4, 2008; quoting John MacDougall, “Russia, facing a
catastrophic rise in drug addiction, accuses the U.S. military of
involvement in drug trafficking from Afghanistan,” Agence France-Presse,
February 23, 2008, emphasis added.
69 “Kyrgyz ex-drug official says ousted leader's brother behind
abolishing agency,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, July 3, 2010.
70 “Moscow’s Terror Fighter,” Newsweek, April 1, 2010.
71 Michael Smith, “Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo
Deal,” Bloomberg, June 29, 2010: “Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough
to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for
Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest
violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S.
history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic
product. ‘Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave
international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their
operations,’ says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the
72 Rajeev Syal, “Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN
advisor,” Observer, December 13, 2009.
73 Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 27-33, 59-66, 185-99; Scott, Road to
74 Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the
Secret Heart of BCCI (New York: Random House, 1993), xxiv; David C.
Jordan, Drug Politics: Dirty Money and Democracies (Norman, OK:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), 109.
75 U.S. Congress. Senate, 102nd Cong., 2nd Sess. The BCCI Affair: A
Report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from Senator John
Kerry, Chairman, and from Senator Hank Brown, Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations,
September 30, 1992, 17.
76 Senate, The BCCI Affair, 241.
77 Scott, American War Machine, forthcoming. An early example was the
Kincheng Bank in Taiwan, part-owner of the CIA proprietary airline CAT
Inc., which supplied the forward KMT bases in Burma which managed the
local drug traffic. The Kincheng Bank was under the control of the
so-called Political Science Clique of the KMT, whose member Chen Yi was
the first postwar KMT governor of Taiwan (Chen Han-Seng, “Monopoly and
Civil War in China,” Far Eastern Survey, 15:20 [October 9, 1946], 308).