Southwest Asia: Drug Trade a Pillar of the Afghan Economy

The opium trade generates $6.7 billion a year, with much of that money staying in the hands of farmers and local traffickers, Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Mohammed Daud Daud told reporters at a Kabul press conference last Friday.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/poppy2.jpg
opium poppies
The opium trade also generates jobs, creating posts for some 110,000 Afghans involved in the traffic, Daud said, citing figures from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That's not including the two million people involved in poppy production across the country. Daud estimated that farmers garner about 20% of the money generated, or about $1.4 billion last year, making opium far and away the country's top cash crop.

The division of proceeds between Afghan and foreign traffickers is unknown. Also unknown is just how much of the profits are ending up in the coffers of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, although all observers conclude they, too, are profiting from the trade.

They're not the only ones. Daud told the press conference anti-drug forces had arrested more than a thousand people in the past three years, including government officials.

Afghanistan provides more than 90% of the global opium supply, from which heroin is derived. According to the UNODC, this year's harvest will be another record-breaker, despite the limited eradication efforts of the Afghan government and its Western backers.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Opium=>a myriad of pharmaceuticals in the U.S.

This is absurd. If opium were eradicated, where would the U.S. get their supply? I mean really, the U.S. uses the fruits of this plant for numerous medications. How would we ever survive without our precious morphines, codeines, Vicodins, Norcos, etc., which U.S. doctors hand out like candy? If the U.S win this war on "drugs," they're merely kicking themselves in the ass! Almost any substance can be construed a poison, if abused.

This is stupid,they should be buying it and using it as Medicine

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2007 - The United States has a "five-pillar" plan to counter the Afghan narcotics industry, which supplies about 93 percent of the world's opium and has a virtual monopoly over the global heroin market, a top Defense Department official said here today.

"The five pillars are public information, alternative livelihoods, eradication, interdiction and justice reform," Richard J. Douglas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics, counterproliferation and global threats, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Narcotics trade in Afghanistan hinders the country's economic growth and undermines its democratic institutions by providing extremists, terrorists and other dissidents the resources to oppose the central government, Douglas said.

The Defense Department is using the five pillars to "increase the capacity of the government of Afghanistan ... to stop narcotics trafficking," he said. "When the Afghan government is in a better position to pick up the load, it's going to take a lot of pressure off of our people, and that's what we're hoping to see."

Douglas, who visited with the governor of Afghanistan's Helmand province last year, said that despite some "sobering challenges" operationally, there is "quite a bit of political will on the part of the Afghan government to deal with this problem."

"The fact is, we're better off than we were three years ago when we started the program," he said. "There's certainly cause for optimism that Afghans themselves ... are going to be able to deal with this mission."

Drug Enforcement Agency mentors are training and equipping a specialized Afghan interdiction unit to directly address traffickers. "We are developing an Afghan intelligence fusion cell, a communications system and a number of bases of operation," Douglas said.

Additionally, a squadron of MI-17 HIP H helicopters will support the interdiction unit. "The helicopter squadron is very important because of the need for air mobility in a country with extremely rugged terrain (like Afghanistan)," he said.

In conjunction with the State Department, the Defense Department will engage in the "border management initiative, which will assist in hindering the flow of drugs leaving Afghanistan and the importation of precursor chemicals needed to turn opium into heroin," he said.

Douglas said the tactical training Afghan border police are receiving "has already reduced casualties during confrontations with narco-traffickers at the border."

The Defense Department also is cooperating with counternarcotic authorities in Central Asian "transit zone" countries to help clamp down on illicit drug exports from Afghanistan -- the "source zone."

"We have efforts under way in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan," Douglas said. "The idea is to do similar efforts to build capacity on the other side of the border, so the Afghan and bordering authorities are able to cooperate and work better together."

A softer approach in which the departments of State and Defense are jointly engaged is the "alternative livelihood pillar" that aims to introduce new crops or alternative yields into Afghanistan's agriculture to wean Afghan farmers off the poppy crop used for opium and heroin production.

Douglas said international challenges are exacerbated by consumerism in "arrival zone" countries. "The No. 1 narcotics problem we face is demand in the United States," he said.

Southwest Asia

How do you suppose we stop drugs from coming from asia.

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