The Persian Gulf harbors an array of extremely compromising secrets. Near the top is the Afghan heroin ratline -- with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) positioned as the golden node of a transnational, trillion dollar heroin money laundering operation.
In this 21st century Opium War, crops harvested in Afghanistan are essentially feeding the heroin market not only in Russia and Iran but especially in the US. Up to 93% of the world's opium comes from Afghanistan.
Contrary to predominant Western perception, this is not an Afghan Taliban operation. The key questions -- never asked by Atlanticist circles -- are who buys the opium harvests; refines them into heroin; controls the export routes; and then sell them for humongous profit compared to what the Taliban have locally imposed in taxes.
The hegemonic narrative rules that Washington bombed Afghanistan in 2001 in "self-defense" after 9/11; installed a "democratic" government; and after 16 years never de facto left because this is a key node in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), against al-Qaeda and the Taliban alike.
Washington spent over $100 billion in Afghan reconstruction. And, allegedly, $8.4 billion in "counternarcotics programs." Operation Enduring Freedom -- along with the "liberation" of Iraq -- have cost an astonishing several trillion dollars. And still the heroin ratline, out of occupied Afghanistan, thrives. Cui bono?
Have a SIGAR
An exhaustive Afghanistan Opium Survey details the steady rise of Afghan opium production as well as the sprawl in production areas; "In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4,800 tons in 2016."
Another exhaustive report issued by the delightful acronym SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) even hints -- discreetly -- at the crucial connection; Operation Enduring Freedom feeding America's heroin epidemic.
Afghanistan is infested by contractors; numbers vary from 10,000 to tens of thousands. Military and ex-military alike can be reasonably pinpointed as players in the heroin ratline -- in many cases for personal profit. But the clincher concerns the financing of US intel black ops that should not by any means come under scrutiny by the US Congress.
A Gulf-based intel source with vast experience across the Pentagon-designated "arc of instability" tells the story of his interaction with an Australian intel operative who served in Afghanistan; "This was about 2011. He said he gave US Army Intelligence and the CIA reports on the Afghan heroin trade -- that US military convoys from the ports of Pakistan were being used to ship the heroin out of Afghanistan -- much of it was raw opium -- for distribution as their backhaul.
No one answered.
He then cornered the key army intelligence operations and CIA at a meeting and asked why no action was taken. The answer was that the goal of the US was winning the hearts and minds of the population and giving them the poppies to grow won their hearts. He was then warned that if he brought this issue up again he would be returned to Australia in a body bag."