The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released a report detailing the effects of a $15 billion industry – the Afghan opium trade. The report connects instability in Central Asia and global heroin addiction to the Taliban-taxed drug. The UNODC explains that insurgent groups derive anywhere from $90-160 million in revenue from opium taxes and that the trade could be financing insurgents across borders. Paradoxically, as the drug is globally smuggled, leaving a trail of addiction in places such as India and China, wealthier nations are intercepting less of the drug at their borders.
The story of Hermitage Capital, a Britain-based investment fund that was once one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, and what it encountered at the hands of corrupt Russian officials, “highlightsthe hazards of practicing law in Russia’s corruption-ridden courtsdespite nearly two decades of reforms supported by hundreds of millionsin U.S. and European aid,” Philip Pan wrote in an Aug. 13 piece in the Washington Post. It also highlights the dangers of doing business in Russia for Western firms. Hermitage was apparently the victim of a brazen attempt by corrupt Russian officials to steal its assets, in an all-too-common practice […]
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s “window of opportunity to deliver reform is rapidly closing,” former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warned, putting the country at risk for a recurrence of the political violence that brought the East African powerhouse to its knees after disputed elections in 2007. Though delivered in his characteristic velvet tones, Annan’s message was firm: Accelerate the reform agenda and take decisive action, or risk the potential of an irretrievable decline into crisis that will have economic as well as political consequences. “Kenya is already at — or past — the halfway mark between the formation of the […]
ABOARD USS DONALD COOK — It was a rare moment of excitement on a long, tedious counter-piracy patrol. On the evening of Sept. 24, lookouts on the USS Donald Cook, a Virginia-based destroyer assigned to a NATO flotilla in the Gulf of Aden, spotted a mysterious shape on the horizon. The distant vessel did not respond to Donald Cook’s hails as it loomed closer. With the cry, “Ship of interest,” crew members summoned Donald Cook’s captain, Derek Granger. Interrupted during a rare bit of down-time, Granger climbed to the bridge wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Lighting his customary cigar, he […]
On the morning of June 9, 2008, U.S. drug enforcement agents alongside NATO military personnel and Afghan commandos raided a suspected drug weigh-station in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province near the border with Pakistan. Code-named Operation Albatross, the counternarcotics mission was the result of a tip from a government official in Kandahar and led to a seizure of mind-blowing proportions: 262 metric tons of dried hashish, equivalent in size to 30 London-style double-decker buses. The raid was the world’s largest drug seizure ever conducted by law enforcement authorities. But there is little reason to celebrate. Afghanistan’s narcotics industry has become a […]