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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Farming the Land

“One of the world’s worst refugee problems is one you've heard little about. Every month, while Americans debate their options in Iraq and whether the troop surge might reduce sectarian violence by the fall, another 30,000 to 50,000 terrorized Iraqis flee their homes.
Of a population of about 27 million, at least 1.9 million are now internally displaced; another 2 million have sought refuge abroad, mostly in Jordan and Syria but also in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.”
-Editorial, LA Times, May 20, 2007

“All these displaced people! I’ll bet that a lot of it has to do with the sky-high unemployment rate in Iraq (well, that and the murder rate). I wish we could find these people something to do.. Something to bring in a little cash and stabilize the economic system.”
-Skippy

“Farmers in southern Iraq have started to grow opium poppies in their fields for the first time, sparking fears that Iraq might become a serious drugs producer along the lines of Afghanistan.

Rice farmers along the Euphrates, to the west of the city of Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, have stopped cultivating rice, for which the area is famous, and are instead planting poppies, Iraqi sources familiar with the area have told The Independent.
The shift to opium cultivation is still in its early stages but there is little the Iraqi government can do about it because rival Shia militias and their surrogates in the security forces control Diwaniya and its neighbourhood. There have been bloody clashes between militiamen, police, Iraqi army and US forces in the city over the past two months.”
-The Independent (UK), May 23, 2007

“Hey! Farming! Why didn’t I think of that? A good cash crop too. Pretty soon they’ll be able to support themselves the same way that they do in Afghanistan.”
-Skippy

“Profits from Afghanistan's thriving poppy fields are increasingly flowing to Taliban fighters, leading U.S. and NATO officials to conclude that the counterinsurgency mission must now include stepped-up anti-drug efforts.

This year's heroin-producing poppy crop will at least match last year's record haul and could exceed it by up to 20 percent, officials say, meaning more money to fuel the Taliban's violent insurgency.
[…]
Military commanders who viewed drugs as a minor irritant in 2002, when poppy production was much lower, have reassessed the importance of the vast fields of red and white poppies their soldiers drive past in security convoys, said a Western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn't want to be seen as criticizing the military.

It's too early to say definitively what this year's crop will be. But another Western official with knowledge of the drug trade said it could exceed last year's record 407,000 acres by as much as 20 percent. The official declined to give his name.”
-Associated Press, May 22, 2007

“This money will be good for the small farmers in Iraq. You know, the salt of the earth kind of narcotics dealer. Trust me, the insurgency doesn’t need the cash.”
-Skippy

“The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by ‘corrupt and complicit’ Iraqi officials.
As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments - previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy - paid $30 million in ransom last year.”
-New York Times, November 26, 2006

“Thank goodness for the War on Terror. I feel so much safer.”
-Skippy

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