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Afghanistan
Taliban team up with Helmand drug lords
2006-03-19
Taliban rebels determined to keep southern Afghanistan in chaos have teamed up with drug barons against the government and its opium eradication campaign, officials say.

The campaign to destroy opium poppy fields was begun March 8 in southern Helmand, the producer of most of Afghanistan's opium crop -- which makes up nearly 90 percent of the world total -- and also one of the provinces worst-hit by a Taliban-led insurgency.

"Terrorists and narcotics are very close; they're supporting each other," said Helmand province Gov. Muhammad Daud. "When narcotics production is up, terrorism automatically goes up."

Lt. Col. Henry Worsley of the 3,500 British forces deployed in the province agreed. "Taliban and drugs feed each other. You cannot separate them here."

In their final two years in power, before they were toppled in a U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, the Taliban banned opium and succeeded in drastically slashing its production to 185 tons from 3,300 tons.

Some observers say their motivation was to win international favor. Others say they wanted to push up the price of the raw ingredient of heroin.

Four years later, the Taliban rebels are willing to protect opium crops and farmers against the new administration in Kabul. The United States and other Western countries, which see opium as a source of terrorist funding, are pressuring the government led by President Hamid Karzai to eradicate the crop.

Several anonymous letters attributed to the Taliban have been distributed in the past few months in Helmand and other insurgency-infested provinces that threaten farmers with reprisals if they do not plant opium, residents said.

Some letters also offer protection against government eradication attempts.

"Taliban will try to disrupt the eradication campaign," said the Helmand governor who has vowed to remove all the opium from his province in two months.

"Eradication will cause fighting," said Mohammed Sardar, an official from the nongovernmental group Mercy Corps that is trying to persuade opium farmers to switch to other crops.

"Poor farmers won't fight, but Taliban and smugglers will," he said.
Posted by:Dan Darling

#5  The Britts are not eradicating any fields themselves. The Afghan Army is. As long as there are poor farmers, poppies will be grown in Afghanistan. They have tried alternate crops, lots of things will grow there, but nothing comes close to paying what poppys do. If they were somehow able to take out all the Afghan fields, it would solve a lot of Europe's heroin... America's heroin mostly comes from Mexico.

Anyhow, the Taliban have been in the drug trade for some time... this is just a means for them to make money. Contrary to popular belief, they are extremely strapped for cash and this is a big money maker for them.
Posted by: armylife   2006-03-19 15:10  

#4  So legalize it. I doubt Afghanistan will be the low cost producer.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble   2006-03-19 14:49  

#3  It's a tough one. The problem with leaving the fields is that the Taliban then use drug monies to keep up their fight.
Posted by: lotp   2006-03-19 14:41  

#2  Has anyone considered what will happen if they do erasdicate 90% of the world's opium? Crime and violence will skyrocket globally. All the drug lords profiting from heroin won't take to being cut-off, nor will the junkies. The economic impact and loss from cash circulating from drug sales, affects far more than the Helmand farmers, who have no alternative method of income. The land is even more barren since the refugees took to eating roots that helped prevent erosion during the worst of the war with the Soviets. The solution to the poppy problem takes more than a government campaign or it will be all-out chaos, and probably why Britain backed off their military from destroying the fields. Maybe the UAE should build a Las Vegas in the Afghani desert, as nothing else will grow in that God-forsaken barren hell-hole.
Posted by: Danielle   2006-03-19 14:15  

#1  The campaign to destroy opium poppy fields was begun March 8 in southern Helmand, the producer of most of Afghanistan's opium crop -- which makes up nearly 90 percent of the world total -- and also one of the provinces worst-hit by a Taliban-led insurgency.

No coincidences here. A head-on collision of interests: Order vs chaos.
Posted by: Griper Phulet7709   2006-03-19 05:09  

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