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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #16  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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History repeats itself

motoreiter and m37charlie

This Australian, non conspiratorial, documentary describes the inseparable bond between drugs and war, beginning with China, from the point of view of villagers, world leaders, CIA/DEA operatives and chiefs, investigative reporters and the historic record.

After watching all 6 parts, I am convinced my Opium Wars reference was spot on but... Episode I: The Seeds of War details this argument!

I also learned that both of your remarks directed at me, are more accurate than I had previously believed.

Thanks for giving me another valid point of view.

An Unholy Alliance - CIA's connection to the Global Drug Trade

DEALING WITH THE DEMON
Episode II: An Unholy Alliance
Part I through Part VI

Video here:

YouTube - An Unholy Alliance - Part 1 of 6

These 6 videos are interesting and educational, without hype or political agenda. Great prep for anyone biking the poppy growing regions of the world or the drug routes to market. Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for the encouraging Private messages,

Episode I: The Seeds of War

"It provides the contemporary launching point for an inquiry into history which takes us to the former British opium factory on the banks of the Ganges and through the archives of Persia and China. The patent medicine craze in the west spawned mass addiction which led to the beginnings of international control at Shanghai establishing patterns of drug policy that have been unbroken since."

web site for INTRO, Episodes I, II, and III

OneWorld Magazine - Opium: Dealing with the Demon

Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate

Last edited by xfiltrate; 12 Dec 2009 at 21:43. Reason: I could not find Episode I on YouTube
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  #17  
Old 13 Dec 2009
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Well you haven't mentioned where the CIA enters the picture in this case.
The opium story and how the 'merrkans often placed their bets on dictators and drug lords is well known. What the French and the Russians have done is less debated, I think.
Smuggle routes across Africa lead to Europe not North America - correct?
Still no meat on those bones.

Will we next find drug labs in the Mali desert?
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  #18  
Old 13 Dec 2009
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From all thats been said by people here with first hand knowledge of the terrain, and the ease that shipments could be made through these areas in comparison to through Western Europe or the USA (assuming water and fuel resupply), I would think there is a very good chance of something being "found".

But I find it hard to believe that whatever is there now isn't already well known to the Western worlds various agencies? Is the CIA waiting for HUBBers to do the dirty work?

This also raises the point that if there is a large drug organisation somewhere out there, then additional attention resulting from kidnappings wouldn't be appreciated, however big the area concerned is?
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  #19  
Old 13 Dec 2009
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Snow Storms

priffe, I agree that the trans Africa drug route leads to the lucrative markets of the EU. This I have mentioned in a previous post.

As explained by the CIA in my referenced documentary, the priority of US foreign policy during the cold war was to stop the spread of Communism. Toward this policy goal the CIA recruited, trained, and supported various "local" armies, and individuals who also controlled the drug trade and routes to market.

Also documented is the fact that the sale of illegal drugs to the western world spread from southeast asia, US soldiers being the target market during the Vietnam war, to the United States. Some of the major asian drug lords and their armies were admittedly utilized by the CIA to forward the United States policy of stopping the spread of Communism.

Before relating pertinence to the Sahara, I would like to ask why so antagonistic? I am posting here, with documentation, comments relating to the thread's topic. Understanding how illegal drugs spread from continent to continent is key to predicting effects upon the Sahara region. This is an ancient story, begun by the British and their early control of the poppy trade.

Well known economists attribute the poppy trade as a significant leg of the financial base that helped carry the United Kingdom through the first part of the last century.

Today, without the laundering (spending/buying of corporations/stocks etc) of money "earned" from the sale of illegal drugs the economy of the United States and the value of the US dollar would suffer a dramatic decline approaching that dealt from the recent sub prime mortgage crisis.

Now, to be more specific regarding the CIA, drugs and the Sahara, if we substitute the word "terrorists" for Communism and understand that US foreign policy is to stop "terrorists" strategy dictates that the United States might well be considering ways to butcher the "cash cow" (drug trade) of the terrorists.

The Colombians/Latin Americans drug cartels are completing with the middle eastern based terrorists for the EU illegal drug market which has surpassed the US market. The CIA/DIA/DEA might conclude that turning a blind eye toward the drug routes through the Sahara might well forward the goal of stopping terrorists funding by flooding the EU market with Latin American based illegal drugs.

The questions becomes what happens to the peoples of the Sahara? We have already noted the mansions, expensive cars, etc. etc of the "authorities" of several African nations, who obviously are profiting from the Latin American drug trade. What implications this might have on future of the Sahara might well be foretold by examining the fate of Mexico today.

priffe, let's just try to understand each other's point of view. There is no malice on my part, we are just two old bikers looking at some interesting scenery and commenting to each other along the way. Perhaps we are both so full of the world that we have become sarcastic even jaded, I will do my best to find common ground with you upon which we might ride peacefully together.

Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate
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  #20  
Old 13 Dec 2009
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Grizzly, looking at Colombia, Mexico, Brasil arms, drugs and kidnappings seem to go together.

Xfiltrate certainly no malice on my part either (and I am built for comfort so no biking; I do luv 4x4).
I just want some meat to chew on.
I prefer to observe, report and comment rather then speculate. Absolutely don't mind speculating when there is a sound foundation to build a good discussion.
I believe the (Western) concern about the desert becoming a haven for terrorism and other crime is legitimate. Worst case, we could see an expansion of Aqim and organized crime from Mauretania to Somalia. Then it could become near impossible to go through Sahara for tourism. And a nightmare for the people who live there.

Last edited by priffe; 14 Dec 2009 at 10:11.
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  #21  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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So we have cocaine coming in through West Africa and Afghan heroin through East Africa.

No mention of CIA in this article either. Perhaps they wrote it...

Signs of new Saharan drug trade raise fears - The National Newspaper

"Antonio Maria Costa, the chief of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the discovery pointed to West Africa’s emerging role in the global drugs trade and warned that “terrorists and anti-government forces” were financing their operations with narcotics cash.

For Princeton Lyman, an Africa expert at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, adding drugs to the “relatively benign smuggling” practised by generations of Sahel tribespeople poses a major threat to regional security.

“A lot of these countries have very weak governments and the potential of turning them into narco-states is very scary. There is already a lot of drug money along the coast of West Africa … lots of the fancy homes in Dakar are now owned by drug lords,” he said.

Other recent discoveries of seven narcotics laboratories in Guinea and seizures of drugmaking chemicals indicated that West African gangs were now producing high-grade cocaine along with amphetamines and ecstasy.

While cocaine comes in to the west, some 35 tonnes of Afghan heroin is trafficked into east Africa every year, much of it entering through lawless Somalia, fuelling a “dramatic increase in drug addiction” and spreading HIV through needle-sharing, added Mr Costa.

These “two streams of illicit drugs” converge in the Sahara, where rebels and militants exploit the trade to raise cash, said Mr Costa, adding that heroin and cocaine parcels have become “a sort of new currency” that is readily traded on the Saharan black market....
Mr Lyman, a former US ambassador to both South Africa and Nigeria, warned that a heavy-handed approach by African officials would probably exacerbate the problem and threaten the desert region’s delicate security balance.

“Taking on the smuggling problem presents the danger of driving these tribal groups into the arms of AQIM because they resent a government presence that impinges on their smuggling activities, so it’s a delicate area how you increase in security” he said.

“You’ve got to build greater trust between Tuaregs and their home governments, and that requires more development and maybe even closing their eyes to some of the more benign smuggling activity that’s taking place. It’s not an easy task at all.”"
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  #22  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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Richard,

It could be that the plane was being tracked/warned or even followed as well (Thinking of 'Lord of War' where the arms dealer has to land a plane to avoid being escorted by fighter jet to an airport - by the time the authorities got to the landing place the locals had removed all of the evidence ;-)

For those having a spat, get hold of "Killing Hope" by William Blum. All the evidence you need of various goings on from the horses mouth so to speak....
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  #23  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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Another article by the guy who failed to mention the CIA

Counterterrorism Blog: AQIM and the West African Drug Trade

"AQIM and the West African Drug Trade
By Douglas Farah

I have recently been briefing U.S. government agencies on what I see as a fundamental sea change as a result of the globalization of the world market, most visible in the increasing transit of cocaine through West Africa.

One of the issues I have raised has now gone public - the protection of cocaine shipments through the Trans Sahel region by a combination of criminal and terrorist networks, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM).

The other is the fact that now, after decades of saying the key to dismantling the cocaine cartels was to lower U.S. consumption (something that was long true), the panorama has changed dramatically. As the drugs fly from Colombia, via Venezuela to West Africa then the expanding European-Central European-Asian markets, it is clear the U.S. market is no longer so relevant.

Given the expanding markets elsewhere in the world, I would venture to say that if the U.S. reduced its demand by 20 percent overnight it would have relatively little impact on the GLOBAL flow of cocaine. It would be problematic for some suppliers, but not a defining issue, and that is radically different than the situation a few years ago.

This influx of cash is both dangerous for the immediate neighborhood, but would also give AQIM a whole new level of international financing, as I noted here.

We have the first pubic case where AQIM offers to protect large cocaine shipments transiting the region, and claims to have already provided such protection.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ran a sting operation alleging to be members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which now has an operational presence in West Africa. This is the same scheme the DEA used to lure Monzar al Kazar to his arrest, extradition and conviction - as well as the same ploy used to lure Viktor Bout to Thailand, where he was arrested and awaits a ruling on a U.S. extradition request. My full blog is here.

December 18, 2009 02:19 PM"

He is linking to this most interesting NY Times article
Feds - Arrests in Africa Link al-Qaida, Drugs - NYTimes.com

"The three suspects — believed to be in their 30's and originally from Mali — were arrested by local authorities in Ghana earlier this week and turned over to U.S. agents."
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  #24  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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Viva La Sahara???

Great posts priffe and romingyak.org thanks, if Mexico and Central America are considered a blue print for drug routes through Africa, it looks like the architects are among the best and the brightest of those wishing to destroy humanity, and they are probably very well paid.

Why have the Colombian backed Mexicans drug gangs/cartels recently been beheading groups of Mexican police? Beheading is relatively new and innovative for Mexico, but not for the Sahara, or am I wrong?

Anyone have any ideas of what US policy might be for the Sahara region? Or suggestions, of what it should be?

Will the flow of Latin American drugs through Africa to EU help or hinder the funding of counter efforts against the current US military/contractors efforts in Afghanistan?

Anyone know today's assessed drug demand/supply status for the EU? I suspect knowing the cost of illegal drugs in the EU for the last couple years to present might be helpful.

Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate
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  #25  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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Interesting NYT article and a gloomy prognosis for independent tourism in the Sahara (what we're about here, lest we forget) if it seems AQIM are enabling an increasing flow of trans-desert cocaine into Europe. You get a feeling there's a whole new market in east Europe and Russia (if not south Asia too) as some there adopt our more affluent lifestyle.

Only "Al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb ... conducts dozens of bombings or ambushes each month" seemed like the mild or outdated "it's hell over there" exaggeration one expects from North American reporters.

Although it's the first time I've heard it, the idea of using the illegal migrants as mules sounds plausible. The collapse of the once-lucrative fake cig market from Nigeria to the Maghreb also rings true (something which I suspect Algerian army bases in the desert may have been complicit with). In that instance I believe the Algerian state got round it by giving up on Hoggars and opening a Philip Morris plant, giving it's people a chance to cough on real Marlboros.

All in all makes me glad I was around at the end of the honeymoon in the 80s when access, stability and good transportation (if not quite GPS) all came together.

Ch

That Viktor character sounds like a piece of work. One less of him won't do any harm. [+apparently a character in the 'Lords of War' film above was based on him]

Last edited by Chris Scott; 19 Dec 2009 at 14:58.
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  #26  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
All in all makes me glad I was around at the end of the honeymoon in the 80s when access, stability and good transportation (if not quite GPS) all came together.

Ch
Yes the future for desert travel looks bleak, doesn't it?

Climate change, political unrest, crime and terrorism all converge.
With the expected boom in gas, oil and other natural resources in the Sahara and the Sahel who knows what will happen. The Algerian government will have to expand military presence in the desert to protect the coming enormous explorations of Timimoun - Adrar - Tamanrasset and then further to the southwest. But what on earth are Bamako and Niamey going to do? Taoudeni basin oil production is set to begin in 2015 in Mauretania..
We can only hope for the best!

Here's from a blog The Huguenot Corsair: African Smuggling Routes


Did anybody link to this document yet? The full title is " Organized Crime and Irregular
Migration from Africa to Europe" http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/Migration_Africa.pdf

Last edited by priffe; 19 Dec 2009 at 15:14.
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  #27  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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Huguenot: Since smugglers probably now use the same routes to smuggle cocaine as they have been using to smuggle humans, these are...

I haven't read the UNODC doc but even 3 years ago when it was published, between us we could have easily improved on that rather naive map. Or maybe it's supposed to be inaccurate.

I doubt very much if coke or even illegals trot obediently from one town to the next, nor do I assume as Hugu suggests that inert, compact, high value coke takes the same route as illegals, no more than coal gets transported on a #73 bendy bus.

It's worth remembering that this post started with the news that coke is being transported at high speed laterally across the Sahara - quite a feat. Just read the German report again - most interesting. The CIA and Mossad get a mention some will be pleased to hear, but all in all it's an impressive tale of economical co-operation between Reguibat, Tuareg and Tubu across the width of the desert.
I suspect we miss out on plenty of other worthwhile reporting and speculation on Sahara in French and German.

Ch

Last edited by Chris Scott; 19 Dec 2009 at 16:01. Reason: sp
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  #28  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
I haven't read the UNODC doc but even 3 years ago when it was published, between us we could have easily improved on that rather naive map. Or maybe it's supposed to be inaccurate.
Well he probably took the map he could find. But then he elaborated some:
"Smuggling routes from Mali proceed to Mediterranean ports in Morocco or in Tunisia and Lybia.
While this pattern could confirm Farah's thesis that FARC, Venezuela, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)are linked, it also could confirm the thesis that cocaine smugglers are opportunistically developing new routes as circumstances indicate.
Since the routes end on the Mediterranean, the transshipments we now observe heading toward the Balkans make sense."

The tracks to to the Balkans are missing on the map.

Quote:
It's worth remembering that this post started with the news that coke is being transported at high speed laterally across the Sahara - quite a feat....all in all it's an impressive tale of economical co-operation between Reguibat, Tuareg and Tubu across the width of the desert.
I suspect we miss out on plenty of other worthwhile reporting and speculation on Sahara in French and German.Ch
Amazing trip being described in the article, 3200 kms across from Mori to Egypt in one week at breakneck speed, in brand new LCs that may be discarded after the voyage.
One interpretation of the Boeing wreck is that smugglers are now bypassing the instability of West Africa (Guinea) flying as far east as they can get.
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  #29  
Old 13 Jan 2010
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More on the drug/weapons smuggling to Africa on this article from Reuters.

Al Qaeda linked to rogue aviation network | Reuters
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  #30  
Old 12 Feb 2010
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Several people have been jailed in Mauri in connection with cocaine trafficking. One of them, Police commissioner Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya, is none other than Interpol's liaison officer in Mauritania. The mind boggles.
BBC News - Interpol man jailed over cocaine ring in Mauritania
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