Ethiopia

Khat thrives in independent Somaliland

Posted on September 14th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

SomalilandHere's a telling irony. We think of Somalia as a country that has basically had no functioning government for over a generation, and is beset by insurgents linked to al-Qaeda. Certainly, how a government treats a relatively harmless psychoactive herb is a good barometer of its general commitment to freedom. The herb in question here is khat, the mildly stimulating leaf that is chewed socially throughout the Horn of Africa. And we've noted how even the weak "official" government in Somalia has been cracking down on khat in a bid to appease the Shabaab insurgents.

Somalia overturns ban of khat imports

Posted on September 14th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

khatSomalia on Sept. 13 agreed to lift its recently imposed ban on imports of the mildly psychoactive leaf khat after an outcry of protest from angry cultivators in neighboring Kenya. The decision was announced at a summit of East African leaders in the Somali capital, Mogadishu—the first such gathering in 40 years in the war-torn region. While it is widely chewed in Somalia, khat (also called miraa) is grown in Kenya and Ethiopia, where large farming communities rely on exports for their livelihoods. Reversal of the ban is apparently effective immediately. Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed said at the summit, "The leaders have discussed relations between the two countries and...the Miraa ban will be lifted by September 14th."

Khat-terrorism connection raises its dubious head —again

Posted on December 27th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

khatMuslim community leaders in Texas are protesting the latest outbreak of the perennial hype over the khat plant and its supposed links to terrorism. It began when a traffic stop near Houston last year turned up two men chewing the midly psychoactive but thoroughly illegal leaf. This sparked a year-long investigation involving local, state and federal agencies that has so far resulted in more than a half-dozen arrests. The Texas Department of Public Safety took the opportunity to link khat to terrorism in its statewide threat assessment. The statement referred to the "chewable narcotic plant grown in the Horn of Africa whose sale abroad is suspected to benefit Africa-based terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab." That assessment, the Austin American-Statesman reported last month, was based on Congressional testimony given more than a decade ago by Steven McCraw—then-FBI-assistant director, now DPS director—who said it is likely that khat proceeds "pass through the hands of suspected [Islamic militants] and other persons with possible ties to terrorist groups."

Seeing patterns, from Colombia to Cape Town

Africa and the War on DrugsFor those who have been wondering what the truth is behind the media sensationalism about global cartels establishing Africa as their new theater of operations, Africa and the War on Drugs  by Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig (Zed Books, London, 2012) clears the air in a welcome way.

The authors, a pair of British academics, portray a strategy by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to hype the threat and replicate the hardline policies pursued in Latin America and elsewhere on the African continent. Drug trafficking has definitely been growing in Africa in recent years—ironically, the authors argue, as a result of "successes" in Latin America. As the old cartels and their smuggling routes were broken up, new more fragmented networks have sought new routes and markets. This conveniently coincided with South Africa's reintegration to the world economy after the end of apartheid, and more generally with Africa's globalization.

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