Although Hamid Karzai was shown the door, this seems unlikely to happen. Are global intelligence agencies willing to part with this revenue source?
February 3, 2009
Canadian soldiers participating in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan could soon be ordered to hunt down drug lords and attack the country’s poppy trade, which is inextricably linked to the Taliban insurgency, Canada’s top general says.
So far, Canadian soldiers have not been involved in anti-drug operations in Afghanistan, but that could change, said Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s chief of defence staff.
“We haven’t yet,” Natynczyk told CBC News. “We’re still waiting for NATO to come out with their guidance.”
As the CBC first reported Saturday, NATO nations are embroiled in a tense debate over whether attacking drug lords is a war crime.
An initial order to go after the drug trade issued by NATO’s military commander was rejected by officers on the ground in Afghanistan because the NATO order failed to distinguish between drug traffickers and those who directly support the Taliban, the CBC’s James Cudmore reported.
But Natynczyk said the ties between the drug trade and the insurgency are too strong to dismiss any longer, as profits or product often end up directly in the hands of fighters.
“Most times that we have operations, our soldiers, sailors and airmen have found drugs right there with Taliban,” he said. “So the nexus between drugs and terror is very, very strong.”
Canada is waiting for NATO’s top commander to issue an order authorizing the attacks, Natynczyk said.
“It’s a legal question, absolutely,” he said.
International law forbids nations from using military force against civilian targets, even if they’re criminals. But drug traffickers with links to the insurgency could be a legitimate target.
The order is being reviewed after some European countries claimed the NATO order went too far, saying it could expose troops to allegations of war crimes.
Once NATO has made up its mind, the Canadian government will review the order, before deciding whether Canadian soldiers should follow it, Natynczyk said.
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