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 Opium and the Taliban

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PostSubject: Opium and the Taliban   Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:05 pm

The media are reporting that NATO are going after the opium merchants, arguing that it is a major source of revenue for the Taliban.
Al Jazeera - Nato to fight Afghan drugs trade

Now, I was always under the impression myself that the Taliban were stridently against drugs and that a lot of the current soaring production in opium could be traced to the Karzai government. The Taliban banned production when they were in charge, opium production rocketed when the country was liberated.

Contradicting this a while ago was a news report I saw in ITV which talked about the fight against drugs being a part of the war on terror in Afghanistan. I snobbily thought to myself 'typical ITV propaganda'. I remember cactus flower mentioning something similar. But now we get these reports, which also mention the UNODC. There's a report out from the UN which confirms what the West is saying: that the secure parts of the country are drugs free and the Taliban dominated parts are where all the drugs come from.
UN report here

So is there any truth to the claim? Or have the propaganda merchents conquered the UNODC?
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PostSubject: Re: Opium and the Taliban   Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:23 pm

Thanks for posting on the 905 - I've noticed the line of the occupation being about action against drugs is coming up again. Here are a couple of links to the Afghanistan and Drugs and CIA threads that touch on this.

It is incontrovertible that opium production has escalated enormously since the invasion and the displacement of the Taliban government. The UN's report of the early 2000s confirmed that the Taliban had stopped opium plantation. This was a matter of religious/political belief for them. As well as the crop increasing since the Taliban were displaced, there are many stories of growing incidence of heroin addiction in the area.

Last week the Head of the British forces in Afghanistan said that the war could not be won and called for talks for the Taliban. The Taliban by all accounts are now detested by the Afghanistan population.

I haven't read the UN report that you've linked so I'll take a look at it now.
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PostSubject: Re: Opium and the Taliban   Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:39 pm

That UN report is very interesting 905 - it deserves close study. The main reason for farming opium is poverty, the main reason for not farming it is Islamic belief. The production levels shot up from nothing since the occupation to a peak in 2007 and the total production has fallen back a small bit (16%) since last year -part of the reason they say is a severe drought in the North.

The report doesn't suggest anywhere I can see that the armies there are a cause for reduced production. It does say that production is highest in the areas in which the Taliban is located and where there is conflict. I'm not sure if those are also the areas where the armed forces are most active, but that would seem logical.

One of the report writers was killed during the project.

This report from 2001 provides a muddy picture in which all the power players (perhaps with the exception of the Russians) were trying to benefit in one way or another from the opium poppy and heroin.
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