The Curse of Drug Production in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a nation that has successfully forced the withdrawal of three world powers: The British Empire in 1842, the USSR in 1989, and the USA in 2021. The question is: What are they defending? This is a nation noted for shocking cruelty, grinding poverty, and a highly destructive drug trade that has stayed with them no matter who is in power.
About the only way to strike it rich in Afghanistan is through the drug trade. The United Nations says that they produce 85 percent of the world’s opium, used for heroin. In recent years the Afghans have been using a local plant called ephedra to produce cheap methamphetamines. The meth trade is quickly increasing.
The Taliban first took control of Afghanistan in 1996. It took them several attempts to finally cut back the growing and sale of opium poppies. They gained success in 2000, but there was a huge cost. Angry farmers lost the only crop that earned them more than a pittance. The situation caused a downturn in an already weak economy. The Taliban lost power after the 2002 US invasion, and the opium industry tripled between 2002 and 2020. Last April, the Taliban banned the growth of opium once again, but this time they were much more cautious. The country was recovering from a 20-30 percent shrinking of its economy that left them with a high unemployment rate and massive poverty. Ninety percent of the people could not depend on a reliable food supply. Foreign aid dried up and Afghan bank accounts were frozen. The one industry that brought in wealth was the drug industry. In order to look good, the Taliban issued their decree to ban opium production, but they did not enforce the crackdown.
The results will be ugly. Already the number of drug addicts is increasing in Afghanistan, destroying their own people. The Taliban will make money that they will use to promote Islamist organizations and terrorist activities, even in faraway Europe. Unless they find something positive to offer the world, they will continue in the same direction.
Atlantic Council. Afghanistan’s Drug Trade is Booming under Taliban Rule. August 24, 2022
United States Institute for Peace. One Year Later, Taliban Unable to Reverse Afghanistan’s Economic Decline. August 8, 2022
Voice of America News. Taliban Make Little Progress in Countering Drugs. September 9, 2022
Euronews. Afghanistan’s drug trade fuels extremism. Europe must act. May 9, 2022