Poppy profits fuel Taliban’s Afghanistan conquest
- Afghanistan is the world’s largest opiate grower
- Taliban’s revenues are dependent on Afghanistan’s drug trade
- The US has spent over $8 billion dollars to stop the drug trade in Afghanistan
The United States spent billions of dollars and over 15 years to stop the Taliban from indulging in and profiting out of Afghanistan’s opium and heroin trade. The US military presence in the region conducted airstrikes and raids on labs to control the illegal flow of drugs. But all that effort now seems to have been in vain.
As the Taliban seize power in Afghanistan and the US wraps up its two-decade-long war effort, the war-torn country remains in the closed grip of fundamentalist forces and a burgeoning drug trade.
Afghanistan is the biggest opiate supplier in the world and is expected to remain so considering Taliban’s stake in the trade. Taliban is taking over Afghanistan at a time when widespread destruction due to war has left millions homeless. This leaves millions of Afghans dependent almost solely on the narcotics trade to eke out a living.
This dependence may lead to further instability in the war-ravaged country as the Taliban, other militias and local warlords fight over drug money.
Some US and United Nations officials believe that Afghanistan’s slide into chaos is creating conditions that will allow for even higher amounts of opiate production as the Taliban will seek to derive a large chunk of their funds from opium trade, according to a Reuters report.
“The Taliban have counted on the Afghan opium trade as one of their main sources of income,” Cesar Guide, the head of UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Kabul, told Reuters.
Security officials believe that this moment of chaos is the ideal time for drug lords to position themselves in proximity to the political masters. The Taliban had once banned poppy cultivation back in 2000 in a bid to gain international legitimacy. But experts say that Taliban’s stance on poppy has changed since then owing to local pressures and the potential for profit.