Anyone out there surprised?
From the Financial Times By James Blitz in London and Daniel Dombey in Washington
The US has told its Nato partners that funds from individuals in Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia now rival drug money as a source of financing for Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
The US launched a high-profile push to reduce Gulf funding for the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militant groups operating out of Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001. As a result, in recent years insurgent links to Afghanistan’s burgeoning heroin trade have become the principal focus.
But Richard Holbrooke, US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, expressed fresh concerns to Nato ambassadors during a briefing this week on the US’s strategic review of Afghan-Pakistan policy, which is expected to be announced on Friday.
“He said that the prime source of funding for the Taliban is not from narcotics but from private individuals in the Gulf region,” said a western diplomat, without giving further details.
Another official attending the meeting said Mr Holbrooke had suggested that much of the funding from poppy production appeared to go to individuals linked in some way to the Afghan government.
“There is real concern about funding for extremists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region coming from the Gulf, which we understand rivals or exceeds the money they are getting from drugs,” said another diplomat, quoting estimates of $150m-$300m for insurgents’ drugs cash. Continue Reading →