Afghanistan’s Next Likely Vice President Linked to Drug Trafficking

August 27, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai is leading so far, in the partial results from his reelection bid and despite claims of election fraud, there is a good chance he will serve another term as president. And that’s what worries the United States, because Karzai’s running mate, former defense minister, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, is heavily linked to drug trafficking and the lucrative poppy trade in Afghanistan.

According to a piece in the New York Times, Karzai has garnered the support of a group of notorious warlords in his reelection campaign:

“[W]arlords suspected of war crimes, corruption and trafficking in the country’s lucrative poppy crop. But none is as influential as Marshal Fahim, his running mate, whose trajectory in and out of power, and American favor, says much about the struggle the United States has had in dealing with corruption in Afghanistan.”

The Bush administration worked closely with corrupt warlords to drive the Taliban from Afghanistan. Marshal Fahim, then a general, played a pivotal role in the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, working closely with the C.I.A. In fact, the C.I.A. paid Marshal Fahim millions of dollars in cash for his efforts.

The relationship started to sour in 2002, when C.I.A. reports linked Marshal Fahim to brazen drug trafficking, even during his stint as defense minister for the struggling country. The C.I.A. reports said that Marshal Fahim and his aides regularly made drug runs to Russian in a Soviet-made cargo plane, transporting heroin and returning with a planeload of cash.

The C.I.A. report posed a big problem for the Bush administration, because a U.S. law prohibited military aid to a known narcotics trafficker. The administration was poised to embark on an ambitious campaign to help create and train a new Afghan Army, which meant awarding millions of dollars in aid to Marshal Fahim.

In the end, the Bush administration chose to look the other way and simply ignore Marshal Fahim’s illegal drug activities. The administration came up with a “devious” plan to circumvent the law, by prohibiting U.S. officials from dealing directly with Marshal Fahim and to only deal with his subordinates. That way, the U.S. would not be breaking the law by dealing with a known drug trafficker, the Bush administration reasoned.

However, the realities on the ground were a different matter. American officials, such as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry met regularly with Marshal Fahim.

Now, the Obama administration faces the prospect of a known drug trafficker becoming Vice President of Afghanistan. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a warning to President Karzai before the election saying, that his alliance with Marshal Fahim would damage his standing with the U.S. and the international community.

The United States would be involved in some tricky political maneuvering if Karzai and Marshal Fahim do indeed take office, as expected. The U.S. may refuse to grant a travel visa to Marshal Fahim or perhaps investigate his finances, but whatever action is taken it would be fraught with political repercussions.


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  1. Posts about Finances as of August 27, 2009 | Learned Capital on August 27th, 2009 11:26 am

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