August 10, 2008

Canada in Afghanistan/GWOT "news"

Canada calls for Afghan poppy rethink
Mon, 04 Aug 2008 17:24:43 GMT
Canada's FM David Emerson
Canada's foreign minister has suggested that burning poppy crops may not be the best way to control Afghanistan's booming opium trade.

David Emerson told CTV's "Question Period" on Sunday that international efforts should be focused on stemming the processing and shipment of illicit drugs from Afghanistan to other parts of the world, rather than concentrating on production.

"We all agree with the fundamental need to deal with this problem and I know Canada is prepared to step up and be part of a solution," Emerson said.

"Does it necessarily mean going out burning crops - or whatever the latest technique is - I'm not sure about that."

Canada's Liberal leader Stephane Dion and the Green Party are also reported to be in favor of a wider range of measures to bring Afghan poppy cultivation under legal control including schemes similar to the "poppy for medicine" programs run by the United States in countries such as India and Turkey.

But the United States is increasingly pressuring Canada to support more determined poppy eradication measures, specifically chemical spraying from the air.

Last week, former top US narcotics official Tom Schweich expressed concern that heroin and opium produced from Afghan poppies is funding militant groups fighting international troops.

"If I were in Canada, I would be hopping mad about the lack of ability to crack down on these corrupt people who are involved in this trade and on the farmers who are growing the opium," Schweich told the New York Times.

Schweich called on NATO countries to withdraw support for Karzai if he continued "protecting narco-traffickers."

Canada's Afghan contingent is currently not responsible for poppy eradication. Crop-destroying duties have been contracted out to DynCorp International, an American company which also provides bodyguards for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.


M Harper asked to help Khadr's release
Sat, 09 Aug 2008 02:42:22 GMT
Omar Khadr
Attorneys for Omar Khadr, a Canadian held at Guantanamo Bay, have filed a court petition to force Canada's prime minister to help win his release.

The attorneys want Prime Minister Stephen Harper to demand that Khadr be returned to Canada before he faces a special military tribunal at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, later this year.

Harper has repeatedly refused to ask for Khadr's repatriation before the end of the proceedings at the controversial US prison camp despite pressure from opposition lawmakers and human rights groups.

Khadr has been held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since his arrest in 2002, when he was 15 years old, and faces a trial before a special US military tribunal for alleged war crimes in October.

The US government charges that Khadr, who was the lone survivor of a four-hour US bombardment of an Al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002, rose from the rubble and killed a US sergeant with a grenade.


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