US embassy cable - 09KABUL2098

AFGHANISTAN/COUNTERNARCOTICS: BURN POPPY BURN

Identifier: 09KABUL2098
Wikileaks: View 09KABUL2098 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kabul
Created: 2009-07-29 03:30:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: KCRM PREL SNAR AF
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 290330Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0422
INFO AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
OSD WASHINGTON DC
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC
DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
CJCS WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L KABUL 002098 
 
 
DEPT FOR INL, INL/AP, SCA, AF 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2029 
TAGS: KCRM, PREL, SNAR, AF 
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN/COUNTERNARCOTICS: BURN POPPY BURN 
 
Classified By: E. Anthony Wayne for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On 21 July, Minister of Counternarcotics 
(CN), Khodaidad Khodaidad, Deputy Minister of Interior for 
CN, Mohammad Daud, and the Governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal 
joined Embassy Kabul Coordinating Director for Development 
and Economic Affairs (CDDEA), Ambassador Wayne at Safar 
village, Garmser District of Helmand Province to supervise 
the destruction of over 290 tons of poppy seed and 16,000 
liters of precursor chemicals seized by the Afghan National 
Counternarcotics Police (CNPA) in conjunction with the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marines. In 
press conferences at the site, the Afghans were able to tout 
their success working with the U.S. and the U.S. was able to 
highlight the U.S. CN strategy that focuses more resources on 
interdiction to deny the insurgents a ready source of funds 
and targets USG-funded programs to encourage and support the 
planting of alternative licit crops. SRAP Ambassador 
Holbrooke delivered a similar message during his subsequent 
visits to Helmand and Kabul. 
 
2. (C) During the trip, Deputy Minister Daud expressed his 
concern about Afghan President Karzai's pardon of drug 
traffickers and the dire need to strengthen the CNPA outside 
of Kabul. END SUMMARY. 
 
3. (SBU) During the nights of Jul 18 and 19, the CNPA raided 
two bazaars in Lakari and Safar villages in the Garmser 
district of Helmand Province. The CNPA, assisted by DEA and 
working in conjunction with U.S. Marines from the Second 
Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), seized over 290 tons of 
poppy seed and over 16,000 liters of heroin processing 
precursor chemical acetic anhydride (the later with a street 
value of over $8M USD) was discovered. They also seized 
lesser amounts of heroin, opium, and hash, as well as two 
functioning drug labs. Precursor chemicals and weapons to 
make IED's were also found in the bazaars. 
 
4. (SBU) On 21 July, a delegation from Kabul, led by Minister 
of Counternarcotics Khodaidad, Deputy Minister of Interior 
Daud, and CDDEA, Ambassador Wayne traveled with press to 
Helmand Province to witness the destruction of the poppy seed 
and some others of the seized materials. They were met in 
Garmser district by Helmand Governor Mangal and embed 
journalists from CNN and the Washington Post, as well as a 
number of Afghan journalists. During the several press 
conferences on site, Deputy Minister Daud congratulated the 
CNPA and U.S. agencies and officially released the seizure 
totals. He pointedly commented on the seizure of IED material 
among the drugs, saying it reinforced the linkage between the 
insurgency and narcotrafficking. 
 
5. (SBU) Governor Mangal expressed his satisfaction with the 
recent operations but cautioned that more needed to be done. 
He stressed that to get a permanent shift away from poppy 
cultivation, security had to improve and agricultural 
assistance needed to be provided. CDDEA, Ambassador Wayne 
commented that the influx of U.S. marines was a first step in 
providing security for Helmand's citizens and that the new 
U.S. CN strategy would provide significant new resources for 
both alternative crop agricultural assistance and for 
interdiction. Success will require a joint U.S./Afghan 
effort, he said, and the close U.S.- Afghan cooperation 
demonstrated over the previous few days offered a positive 
sign on the way forward. After the press conference, 
participants watched as U.S. forces destroyed the seized 
material by calling in airstrikes from AH-1 Cobra gunships 
and Harrier jets. The event was filmed by local and 
international press and was aired for several days on Afghan 
TV. 
 
6. (C) On the return trip, Deputy Minister Daud (protect) 
said President Karzai's recent decision to free five 
convicted traffickers had been a big psychological blow to 
him and his CNPA officers. Daud said he had conveyed his 
serious disagreement to the President, but more importantly, 
public reaction to the release had been uniformly negative. 
This negative popular reaction, Daud said, had forestalled 
further releases which were being prepared by the President's 
entourage and family members. Daud said he had heard that 
some members of the President's family had been receiving 
money from those seeking the pardon and release of convicted 
traffickers. 
 
7. (C) Regarding his own forces, Daud said the CNPA was 
terribly weak and corrupt outside of the capital. There was a 
great need for training, better pay, and equipment. As a 
short term help, Daud hoped to turn part of the former Poppy 
Eradication Force (PEF) into a general counter drug force to 
perform a wide range of CN tasks and to send part of the 
force to work at the National Interdiction Unit. He said he 
hoped to send elements of the force to Helmand for several 
months to bolster security and help with anti-poppy 
information campaigns. Daud said he felt it was important for 
the Afghan government to make clear that it would continue to 
use sticks as well as carrots to fight poppy cultivation and 
that the destruction of poppy seed, chemicals, and drugs 
earlier in the day was in that sense a very good event. 
 
8. (SBU) COMMENT: The recent seizures represent a significant 
blow to regional narcotraffickers and a signal that they can 
no longer act with impunity in the southern reaches of 
Helmand Province. The ability of senior Afghan officials to 
travel to the region to hold a press event also made clear 
that the security environment in Helmand is changing for the 
better and highlighted the ability of Afghan and coalition 
forces to conduct joint operations. It represents a win for 
the new U.S. counternarcotics strategy's focus on 
interdiction and will be followed by USG-funded programs to 
encourage and support the planting of alternative licit 
crops. SRAP Holbrooke delivered these messages clearly during 
his subsequent visit to the province. 
 
 
EIKENBERRY 

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