Afghan leader rips unified drug raid
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday denounced a large-scale drug raid in which U.S. forces and Russian drug agents took part, calling it a violation of Afghan sovereignty.
The outburst marked the latest in a series of tense confrontations between the Afghan leader and his Western backers.
It also signaled a degree of disarray within the Karzai administration, because Afghan counternarcotics police took part in the operation, playing what U.S. officials described as the lead role.
On Friday, Russian officials and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration disclosed the raid, which took place earlier in the week in Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan. The strike targeted major opium and heroin production facilities, and millions of dollars’ worth of drugs were destroyed, they said.
Karzai’s office issued a harshly worded statement in response, describing his government as “committed to joint efforts with (the) international community against narcotics” but condemning the raid as a “blatant violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty.”
“Any repetition of such acts will prompt necessary reaction by our country,” the presidential palace warned.
Karzai’s office said the ministries of interior and defense had been ordered to investigate the circumstances of the drug raid and report back to him.
The incident was reminiscent of a raid carried out in July by Afghan authorities with U.S. backing, which targeted a Karzai aide accused of corruption. The president swiftly ordered his aide freed and moved to limit the powers of the two anti-corruption task forces in question.