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Karzai critic gets new job

Latest update : 2008-08-01

After quitting the Bush administration and accusing the Afghan government of protecting the opium trade, Thomas Schweich has a new job with the UN.


Thomas Schweich, a former US coordinator on Counternarcotics and Justice reform in Afghanistan who denounced alleged corruption among senior Afghan officials and called the war on drugs a "failure", became special consultant on Latin and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean for the Vienna-based United Nations Organization against Drugs and crime (UNODC).


On July 27, in an article published by the New York Times Magazine, he accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of protecting drug lords for political motives. Located mainly in the lawless province of Helmand (South), opium production skyrocketed in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, making the country the supplier of 93 % of the world’s heroin.


A fervent supporter of massive eradication, the former US senior official believes drug trafficking in Afghanistan was never related to poverty, but rather to insecurity. He further criticizes the Pentagon’s sequencing strategy, "defeat the taliban, then have someone else clean up the drug business", as being totally counterproductive, allowing talibans to finance their insurrection with narcodollars.


For two years, Schweich could not convince either president Karzai or the Pentagon to fully support aerial spraying - the most effective tactic for eliminating poppy cultivation. Why did Karzai so openly ignore this change of policy ? "While it is true that Karzai's Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters", Schweich concludes.

Date created : 2008-07-31