US to establish spying center in Bahrain

US to establish spying center in Bahrain
Fri Jan 17, 2014 00:31:39

The US government intends to establish an intelligence center in the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain in a bid to substitute its shrinking presence in the war-torn Afghanistan.

A senior US military official announced on Wednesday that the espionage center in the tiny Persian Gulf nation, home to American Navy’s 5th Fleet, will be an “integral part” of the US Defense Department’s post-2014 strategy in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The US move to expand its military and intelligence presence in Bahrain comes despite the despotic regime’s grave human rights record for its brutal crackdown on a popular uprising in the nation that has left scores shot and tortured to death and many injured and prosecuted for taking part or even sympathizing with the growing anti-regime protesters.

The official, Erin Logan, who oversees the Pentagon’s “counter¬narcotics efforts,” claimed during a US Senate hearing on narcotics that the plan in part of Washington’s efforts to “continue fighting” Afghanistan’s “booming drug industry.”

“The center,” she added, “will help fill the gap where space for personnel on the ground in Afghanistan is no longer available.”

This is while American lawmakers and the inspector general overseeing reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan said during the hearing they were alarmed that a problem Washington has spent “billions of dollars trying to combat” is likely to worsen and further destabilize Afghanistan at a critical time.

According to the report, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko said that during a recent visit to the country, Afghan and American officials conveyed to him that Afghanistan’s drug problem is “dire, with little prospect for improvement in 2014 or beyond,” after the end of the US combat mission.

Cultivation of opium poppies, which are processed to make heroin, reached a record high of 516,450 acres last year, according to the United Nations.

The development comes as the US Drug Enforcement Administration's mission in Kabul, which included nearly 100 personnel as of the end of last year, plans to slash its staff in Afghanistan to 25 to 30 by the end of the year, the report says.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the Senate’s counter-narcotics panel, called Afghanistan’s drug trade a problem with “no easy solution,” adding that new approaches must be found.

Feinstein further stated that Washington should attempt to collaborate on counternarcotics efforts with Iran, which shares a border with Afghanistan and is a leading destination and crossing point of the heroin trade.

“There may be many areas of disagreement, but this is one where we should agree,” she said.

The US, however, has long been suspected by regional countries, particularly Iran and Russia, of promoting the steady growth of the narcotics trade in Afghanistan ever since US and NATO forces occupied the war-ravaged country in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terror and brining stability to the nation.