Turkey’s Role in the Afghan Drug Trade

by Apr 30, 2010Foreign Policy0 comments

In November 2008, I wrote: The question still remains of who is really responsible for the lion’s share of the highly profitable Afghan opium trade. Mr. Pietschmann [of the UNODC — see link above for full article] suggested a role of Kurdish groups in trafficking the drug from Iran into Turkey. In Turkey, some have […]

In November 2008, I wrote:

The question still remains of who is really responsible for the lion’s share of the highly profitable Afghan opium trade. Mr. Pietschmann [of the UNODC — see link above for full article] suggested a role of Kurdish groups in trafficking the drug from Iran into Turkey.

In Turkey, some have suggested the existence of a shadow government, or what is termed the “deep state”, that really controls things behind the scenes. Even a former president and seven-time prime minister of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel, has said, “It is fundamental principle that there is one state. In our country there are two.” He added, “There is one deep state and one other state. The state that should be real is the spare one, the one that should be spare is the real one.”

Writing in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, John Gorvett, a free-lanced journalist based in Istanbul, said: “Defining the ‘deep state’ is not so easy, however. Some argue that it is a hangover from the Cold War, when Western powers sought to establish a network of armed groups that would stay behind in countries that might have fallen to the Soviet bloc. While these groups were then abolished in most countries when the Soviet Union collapsed, the theory is that in Turkey this never happened. Instead, the group continues to operate, an unofficial underground army tied to organized crime and a bevy of corrupt politicians, police and bureaucrats.”

In one case, a heroin trafficker on Interpol’s wanted list named Abdullah Catli died in a car accident in 1996 near the town of Susurluk and was found carrying a diplomatic passport signed by the Interior Minister of Turkey. Writing in Druglink Magazine in 2006, journalist and television producer Adrian Gatton commented, “The Susurluk Incident became Turkey’s Watergate, exposing the deep links between the Turkish state, terrorists and drug traffickers. It revealed what Turks call the Gizli Devlet, or Deep State – the politicians, military officers and intelligence officials who worked with drug bosses to move drugs from Afghanistan into Europe.”

That corruption extends to the United States, according to former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. According to Ms. Edmonds, U.S. officials were involved in helping foreign intelligence agents acquire sensitive nuclear secrets. She also says she was approached by a mole within the FBI who attempted to recruit her. The woman who approached her was a member of the American Turkish Council, which was the target of an FBI investigation because it was suspected of being involved in, among other things, drug trafficking. When she went to her superiors with concerns over possible misconduct and espionage within the FBI, she was fired. The Department of Justice then gagged her under the “state secrets privilege”.trans

Ms. Edmonds later formed the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, which includes as a member Daniel Ellsberg, the former special assistant to the Secretary of Defense who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Mr. Ellsberg has said, with regard to Ms. Edmonds, “Al Qaeda, she’s been saying to congress, … is financed 95% by drug money – drug traffic to which the US government shows a blind eye, has been ignoring, because it very heavily involves allies and assets of ours – such as Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan – all the ‘Stans – in a drug traffic where the opium originates in Afghanistan, is processed in Turkey, and delivered to Europe where it furnishes 96% of Europe’s heroin”.

If such allegations are correct – and Ms. Edmonds is not alone in making them – then it might perhaps explain why the U.S. government is so keen on solely blaming the Taliban for the production of opium in Afghanistan and the lucrative drug trade.

Journalist Wayne Madsen writes this month in the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR):

WMR was told by representatives of the charismatic Turkish Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen, currently living in exile in Pennsylvania in the United States, that the wide-ranging Ergenekon “deep state” in Turkey that has permeated the military, media, and judiciary, has funded itself through the trade in heroin from Afghanistan, through Turkey, to the West. The drug smuggling operation, according to the Gulen circles, has been carried out with the participation of the Turkish Worker’s Party (PKK), the Kurdish insurgent group often credited with carrying out terrorist attacks in Turkey that were actually, in many cases, done by Turkish intelligence and military agents in the Ergenekon operation.

The Gulen representatives also revealed that it was not possible for the PKK to smuggle drugs from Afghanistan without the active help of the Turkish “police and bureaucracy.”

The full text of the article is available at WMR to subscribers.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

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