- most of Afghanistan's heroin & opium is processed and trafficked through Turkey
- "Heroin trafficking is also the main source of funding for the al-Qaeda terrorists "
- Turkey is a haven for (Al Qaeda’s) sources of funding.
Sibel then notes that
"It is puzzling to observe that in reporting this major artery (Turkey) of terrorists’ funding, the U.S. mainstream media and political machine do not dare to go beyond the poppy fields of Afghanistan and the fairly insignificant low level Afghan warlords overseeing the crops."
I was therefore curious to see how the World Bank's recent comprehensive 228 page report "Afghanistan's Drug Industry: Structure, Functioning, Dynamics, and Implications for Counter-Narcotics Policy" would deal with Turkey's role - particularly given that World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz and most of the other neocons have substantial financial incentives for supporting Turkey.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that the dog didn't bark. Again.
Let's have a closer look at the title of the World Bank report: "Afghanistan's Drug Industry: Structure, Functioning, Dynamics, and Implications for Counter-Narcotics Policy"
Note that this isn't a report 'about Afghanistan' - but about the INDUSTRY - and given that Afghanistan supplies 90% of the global heroin market, we might expect to read in the report at least something about the major purchasers of Afghani product.We might even expect to learn something about the major traffickers. We might even expect to learn something about the major trafficking routes. Right?
In fact, the title of the report promises to look at the "Structure, Functioning, Dynamics, and Implications for Counter-Narcotics Policy" - and the report does pretend to cover many of these issues, using fancy terms like 'value chain analysis,' 'vertical price structure' and 'price margins at different stages' and so on - all the things that you'd expect to find in an industry analysis. However, the analysis is conducted primarily (with some notable, and telling, exceptions) on an 'in-country' basis - which is essentially meaningless for analysing a global industry. This World Bank report is akin to an attempt to understand the global soft-drink market by looking really, really closely at the logistics around Atlanta - and as Sibel suggests, the 'frame of reference' of this report is unlikely to be an accident, and is most likely an intentional attempt to whitewash Turkey's role in the heroin industry.
According to the State Deparment's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs' 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Turkey is a key player in this industry:
TurkeyThat's quite straightforward - Turkey is a key player up and down the value chain - yet the comprehensive 228 page report from Paul Wolfowitz' World Bank essentially ignores Turkey's role using various mechanisms of sophistry and mendacity - just as Sibel predicted.
Turkey is a major transit route for Southwest Asian opiates to Europe, and serves as a base and refining center for major narcotics traffickers and brokers.... While most of the heroin trafficked via Turkey is marketed in Western Europe, an increasing amount of heroin and opium also is smuggled from Turkey to the U.S., but not in quantities sufficient to have a significant impact on the U.S.
II. Status of Country
Turkey is a major transshipment point. Turkey is also a base of operations for international narcotics traffickers and associates trafficking in opium, morphine base, heroin, precursor chemicals and other drugs. The majority of these opiates originate in Afghanistan, and are ultimately trafficked to Western Europe. A smaller but still not insignificant amount of heroin is trafficked to the U.S. via Turkey... Turkish authorities continue to seize large amounts of heroin and precursor chemicals, such as acetic anhydride. It is estimated that multi-ton amounts of heroin are smuggled through Turkey each month. Some heroin is still being refined in Turkey.
Drug Flow/Transit. Turkey remains a major route, refining center and storage, production and staging area, for the flow of heroin to Europe. Turkish-based traffickers and brokers operate in conjunction with narcotics smugglers, laboratory operators, and money launderers in and outside Turkey. They finance and control the smuggling of opiates to and from Turkey. Afghanistan is the source of most of the opiates reaching Turkey. Morphine and heroin base are smuggled overland from Afghanistan and Pakistan via Iran. Opiates and hashish also are smuggled to Turkey overland from Afghanistan via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Traffickers in Turkey illegally acquire the heroin precursor chemical, acetic anhydride, from sources in Western Europe, the Balkans and Russia. For fiscal year 2004, 2,304 liters of acetic anhydride were seized in, or destined for, Turkey. Some criminal elements in Turkey reportedly have interests in heroin laboratories operating near the Iranian-Turkish border in Iran. Turkish-based traffickers control much of the heroin marketed to Western Europe.
At least three quarters of all heroin sold in Western Europe comes from Turkey - 4 to 6 tons every month - yet the World Bank report mentions Turkey exactly... once!
Here's the reference, in all it's glory:
The large dealers in both Lashkar Gah city and Kandahar claimed that they deal directly with buyers in Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.That single reference to Turkey is all that the report could muster.
Why would Wolfowitz want to erase any mention of Turkey from his report?
It is puzzling to observe that in reporting this major artery (Turkey) of terrorists’ funding, the U.S. mainstream media and political machine do not dare to go beyond the poppy fields of Afghanistan and the fairly insignificant low level Afghan warlords overseeing the crops. Think about it; we are talking about nearly $40 billion worth of products in the final stage. Do you believe that those primitive Afghan warlords, clad in shalvars, sporting long ragged beards, and walking with long sticks handle transportation, lab processing, more transportation, distribution, and sophisticated laundering of the proceeds? If yes, then think again. This multi billion-dollar industry requires highly sophisticated networks and people. So, who are the real lords of Afghanistan’s poppy fields?In other words, the Turkish 'Deep State' - which includes the Turkish government, mafia-types, terrorist types (including al-Qaeda), the Turkish military and the Turkish Intelligence Agency - are major players in the highly-profitable heroin trafficking business. These same Deep-State players are also in a key position to profit from military sales - and have 'co-opted' a bunch of neocons, congressmen, former congressmen, lobbyists, and 'dime-a-dozen generals' in the US.
Since the 1950s Turkey has played a key role in channeling into Europe and the U.S. heroin produced in the "Golden Triangle" comprised of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. These operations are run by mafia groups closely controlled by the MIT (Turkish Intelligence Agency) and the military. According to statistics compiled in 1998, Turkey’s heroin trafficking brought in $25 billion in 1995 and $37.5 billion in 1996. That amount makes up nearly a quarter of Turkey’s GDP. Only criminal networks working in close cooperation with the police and the army could possibly organize trafficking on such a scale. The Turkish government, MIT and the Turkish military, not only sanctions, but also actively participates in and oversees the narcotics activities and networks.
We know that Al Qaeda and Taliban’s main source of funding is the illegal sale of narcotics. Based on all the reports, facts, and expert statements, we know that Turkey is a major, if not the top, player in the transportation, processing, and distribution of all the narcotics derived from the Afghan poppies, and as a result, it is the major contributing country to Al Qaeda. Yet, to date, more than five years into our over exhaustive ‘war on terror' propaganda, have we heard any mentioning of, any tough message to, any sanction against, or any threat that was issued and targeted at Turkey?
Phil Giraldi carries the story a little further:
Turkey benefits from the relationship (with Israel & US) by securing general benevolence and increased aid from the US Congress - as well as access to otherwise unattainable military technology. The Turkish General Staff has a particular interest because much of the military spending is channeled through companies in which the generals have a financial stake, making for a very cozy and comfortable business arrangement. The commercial interest has also fostered close political ties, with the American Turkish Council, American Turkish Cultural Alliance and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations all developing warm relationships with AIPAC and other Jewish and Israel advocacy groups throughout the US.It appears that Mr Wolfowitz is interested in maintaining the neocon Turkish-gravy train. As Giraldi notes, the source of the gravy is apparently part heroin trafficking, part Military- Industrial- Complex (MIC). In fact, it might be difficult to disentangle these two sources of gravy - Turkey receives billions of dollars in military aid every year from the US, and the Turkish military and intelligence services "actively participates in and oversees the narcotics activities."
Someone has to be in the middle to keep the happy affair going, so enter the neocons, intent on securing Israel against all comers and also keen to turn a dollar. In fact the neocons seem to have a deep and abiding interest in Turkey, which, under other circumstances, might be difficult to explain. Doug Feith's International Advisors Inc, a registered agent for Turkey in 1989 - 1994, netted $600,000 per year from Turkey, with Richard Perle taking $48,000 annually as a consultant. Other noted neoconservatives linked to Turkey are former State Department number three, Marc Grossman, current Pentagon Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, Paul Wolfowitz and former congressman Stephen Solarz. The money involved does not appear to come from the Turkish government, and FBI investigators are trying to determine its source and how it is distributed. Some of it may come from criminal activity, possibly drug trafficking, but much more might come from arms dealing. Contracts in the hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars provide considerable fat for those well placed to benefit.
Investigators are also looking at Israel's particular expertise in the illegal sale of US military technology to countries like China and India. Fraudulent end-user certificates produced by Defense Ministries in Israel and Turkey are all that is needed to divert military technology to other, less benign, consumers. The military-industrial-complex/neocon network is also well attested. Doug Feith has been associated with Northrup Grumman for years, while defense contractors fund many neocon-linked think tanks and "information" services. Feith, Perle and a number of other neocons have long had beneficial relationships with various Israeli defense contractors.
Wolfowitz, of course, has strong ties to many of the neocons who are directly on Turkey's payroll. He first teamed up with Richard Perle in 1969 to sell the antiballistic missile (ABM) system to Congress, before Wolfowitz joined Perle in Scoop Jackson's office in the 70s.
Both Wolfowitz and Feith have previously worked at MIC giant, Northrop Grumman.
When Wolfowitz was appointed Deputy Secretary at DoD in 2001, he convinced Rumsfeld to appoint Douglas Feith as Undersecretary for Policy (a position that Wolfowitz himself held from 1989-93), and then installed Feith as the head of the Office of Special Plans. (Perle & Feith have been working together since 1982)
Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith have all been investigated for leaking classified information to Israel - primarily to assist defense contractors in illegal arms sales. Perle's first foray was in 1969, Feith's was in 1972, and Wolfowitz' in 1978.
In fact, Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith (and other neocons such as Ledeen and Stephen Bryen) appear to have made 'secondary' careers out of trying to either eliminate arms controls treaties (e.g. Feith), or finding legal and other ways of circumventing export restrictions - such as by using fraudulent end-user certificates, or simply lying to Congress to ensure that the military sales continue as they did with Pakistan in Richard Barlow's case.
Curiously, this behaviour of the neocons - selling weapons to Pakistan, China and other 'enemy' countries - appears to run counter to the purported neocon goal of maintaining and extending American military supremacy. However, their actions always appear to dovetail quite closely with the desires of their MIC paymasters.
How does the report manage to ignore Turkey?
One trick used in the report is to simply ring-fence the analysis at Afghanistan's borders (and only selected borders at that) - for example, we learn that:
The border price for opium... was estimated as follows :This is remarkable for a number of reasons.
* estimated share of opium going to Iran: around 90 %
* estimates share of opium going to Pakistan: 6 %
* estimated share of opium going to Tajikistan: 4 %
The border price for heroin... is calculated as follows:
* estimated share of heroin going to Iran: 30 %
* estimated share of heroin going first to Pakistan (much of it onward to Iran): 50 %
* estimated share of heroin going to Tajikistan: 20 %
Firstly, note that it's OK for the report to mention that the export of heroin to Pakistan is merely in transit to Iran, but apparently it's not OK to mention that the product in Iran is merely on it's way to safe-haven in Turkey where it will move into the 'industrialisation' phase to be processed and stored and prepared for mass export with the help of NATO in Belgium, and the Turkish Consulates in England, in Chicago, and elsewhere.
Again, from the State Department's own International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
A large share of the opiates smuggled into Iran from Afghanistan is smuggled to neighboring countries for further processing and transportation to Europe. Turkey is the main processing destination for these opiates, most of which are bound for consumption in Russia and Europe. Essentially all of the morphine base... in Iran, is likely moving towards Turkey...
Secondly, it's interesting that the World Bank report has 100% of the heroin being exported through Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan. There's no mention of Uzbekistan, or Turkmenistan - which "are vital transit countries" according to Interpol. In fact, Sibel says that much of the heroin travels to Turkey from Afghanistan through the Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan).
Another handy trick that the report uses to sidestep the issue of Turkey's involvement is to magically put most of the 'value chain' in a black box - whereby all transactions and 'value capture' between Afghanistan's borders and the wholesale level in the destination country are opaque.
IV. THE VERTICAL STRUCTURE OF OPIATE PRICESIndeed - a lot of that information would be very helpful. The price margins at each stage would demonstrate the obscene profits of 'The Real Lords of the Poppy Fields' - those who control the value-chain steps between the 'price takers' at the farm gate and those who supply the street dealers. But if the World Bank included that information in their report, they'd have to shine a light on Wolfowitz' friends in Turkey. We can't have that, of course, so instead we get 'analysis' which ignores all of the value-adding activity conducted in places like Turkey. For example:
Opium and its products dramatically increase in price along the "value chain" from
raw opium produced on rural farms in Afghanistan to local markets, wholesale trade, processing into heroin or morphine, trade in neighboring countries, transit to distant consuming countries, and ultimately wholesale and retail prices in these countries. The "vertical" structure of prices can provide clues about how the drug industry is organized and its evolution over time...
Vertical Price Structure
Although price data are relatively weak for the parts of the opium "value chain" after the farm-gate level and before reaching prices in distant consuming countries, it is possible to piece together a rough picture of the vertical price structure and in particular the price margins at different stages...
Notice how the 7000% mark-up in between the first two steps is simply ignored - it almost appears to be a wilfull omission.
The report does acknowledge, in passing, that there might be some 'high pay-offs' in looking at the major players in between the farmers and retail end dealers - before deciding not to look at the major players:
The value chain for opium/opiates, while anchored in price-taking behavior at either end, appears to involve much more active price setting in the middle stages, where flexible adjustments to shocks (including law enforcement shocks) appear to be the norm. This is not surprising in view of the very large profit margins and relatively smaller number of actors at these stages. It would appear that, however difficult, attacking and disrupting the more secretive and concentrated middle stages of the value chain could have high pay-offs.Of course, these 'middle stages' aren't really 'secretive' - and in fact are well known to both the UK and US governments (at least).
As Sibel notes:
In fact, our government would rather move heaven and earth, gag ‘whistleblowers’ with direct knowledge of these facts, classify congressional and other investigative reports, create a media black-out on these ‘allies’ terrorist supporting activities, than do the right thing; do what it really takes to counter terrorism.
And British journalist Adrian Gatton described the British awareness thusly:
The British authorities are well aware of Turkey’s role in the drugs trade. In a story I broke in The Guardian earlier this year, I explained how in the 1990s Baybasin told British Customs and Excise investigators about state collusion in the drugs trade. After initial meetings in London, according to a source, these two drug liaison officers – whose names are known to Druglink – later travelled regularly to Holland to meet Baybasin.Nonetheless, Wolfowitz' report on the "Structure, Functioning, Dynamics, and Implications for Counter-Narcotics Policy" somehow managed to ignore Turkey's role despite the fact that Turkey is integral to each of those components.
According to a witness statement given to an immigration case involving Baybasin’s family, Huseyin agreed to provide investigators with information about what he knew of the role of Turkish politicians and officials in the heroin trade. The contents of the discussions are not known in detail, but in a string of newspaper and TV interviews, he claimed he was assisted by Turkish officers working for NATO in Belgium. “The government kept all doors open for us,” he said. “We could do as we pleased.”
Discussions with such a vital ally about its heroin problem have been tricky. When, for example, in 1997, Tom Sackville, the then UK Home Office minister, accused the Turkish government of being neck-deep in the drugs trade, he got a stiff demarche from the Turkish embassy (Sackville was speaking off-the-cuff and not following government policy). Our Foreign Office, rather than backing the minister, vented its fury on his department for meddling in foreign affairs, according to a source familiar with the row.
Sackville’s foray aside, the British government’s reluctance to publicly condemn Turkey has frustrated investigators. We got a rare public glimpse of this when, in 2001, Chris Harrison, a senior Customs officer in Manchester, told veteran crime reporter Martin Short in his TV series Godfathers, that Customs could not get at the Turkish kingpins because they are “protected” at a high level.
I'll let Sibel have the last word:
Curiously enough, despite these highly publicized reports and acknowledgements of Turkey’s role in these activities, Turkey continues to receive billions of dollars of aid and assistance annually from the United States. With its highly placed co-conspirators and connections within the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Congress, Turkey never has to fear potential sanctions or meaningful scrutiny; just like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The criminal Turkish networks continue their global criminal activities right under the nose of their protector, the United States, and neither the catastrophe falling upon the U.S. on September Eleven, nor their direct and indirect role and ties to this terrorist attack, diminish their role and participation in the shady worlds of narcotics, money laundering and illegal arms transfer.Sibel doesn't choose her words lightly.
Update: feel free to search around my archives for Sibel related stuff - you can follow some of the links at the top right of the page. Also, my blog about Sibel's movie, Kill The Messenger is here.