After US Invasion Afghanistan Now Produces 93% Of World's Opium
Afghanistan has a long and troubled history with the opium poppy, beginning in 1979 during the Soviet invasion. This cash crop is used in manufacturing heroin, as well as narcotic pain relievers such as, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. What began as a means of financing a resistance to the Soviets, grew into a widespread practice of making easy money. This continued until July of 2000, when Taliban leader Mohammed Omar declared the cultivation of opium un-Islamic, and banned production. After the ban, Afghanistan's total production dropped 91% from 82,172 hectares in 2000, to only 7,606 hectares in 2001.
According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, after the US invasion in 2001, Afghanistan now accounts for 93% of world's total opium production. Production spiked from 7,606 hectares in 2001, to 193,000 hectares in 2007. Helmand province in the south of Afghanistan, an area roughly about the size of West Virginia, now produces 50% of the world's opium alone. The Taliban's ban on farming the opium poppy before the US invasion was so effective, that Helmand province recorded no opium cultivation in the 2001. The previous year it had been the highest producing province, and currently is again.
When these statistics are combined with news of the Afghan government's involvement and US aid to opium growers, the implications are shocking. In an article for The New York Times, Former U.S. State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Thomas Schweich reported that Hamid Karzai's government was complicit in protecting opium cultivation in Afghanistan.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan's president, has been accused by many of being deeply involved in the opium trade. James Risen of The New York Times wrote an article entitled "Reports Link Karzai's Brother To Afghanistan Heroin Trade", which sheds light on this relationship between Ahmed Karzai and the manufacture of opium and its derivatives. Another report by Dexter Flikins, Mark Mazzetti, and James Risen reveals even more. This article titled "Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A." reveals ties between Ahmed Karzai and the CIA. There is now information that the CIA has a suspected drug lord on their payroll.
These last two developments coupled with the following piece of information, makes this situation all the more troubling. In an interview with Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera about opium growers, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Christmas of the 3/6 Marines, told Mr. Rivera that "we provide them security, we're providing them resources, and we're providing them with alternatives". He does say they are giving them alternatives, but later goes on to admit that there is no incentive for the growers to change crops because the profits from the opium are so high.
Afghanistan, with it's violent history will probably remain in turmoil for quite a few more years, and opium doesn't appear to be going anywhere either. It just seems a bit odd that after US forces entered Afghanistan, the opium trade has spiked out of control.
The point is that the US invasion has created an enormous spike in the cultivation and manufacture of drugs we deem illegal, and we hand out excessive prison terms to our own citizens for.
Not only that, but now the US military admittedly provides security and material resources for the opium growers and heroin manufacturers, all because they "care so much".
These farmers make there money by extracting morphine from the opium poppies and converting it into heroin (diacetylmorphine), then selling it to traffickers who bring it to the US, UK, Europe, and the rest of the world.
We are told that "the Taliban makes them do it" and we are also told that this drug money funds the Taliban.
Yet we protect its manufacture and give them resources to manufacture illegal drugs, that supposedly fund the same people were fighting.
Does anyone else see the obvious contradictions here?
Another point is that NATO controls all air traffic in Afghanistan, the Taliban has no airlift capability.
So, how are the Taliban moving all these drugs out of Afghanistan if the Taliban has no means to move it.
I guarantee you that 93% of the world's opium does not make it out of Afghanistan by horseback over mountain ranges, especially when the countries borders are closely monitored for insurgent traffic by US drone aircraft.
You want answers? Look towards the CIA. Anybody remember the CIA's proprietary airline Air America and its drug smuggling being exposed in congressional session, the Iran-Contra guns for drugs scandal and it being exposed to the public in congress?
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Tempe, Arizona, United States