With the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in recent days, I thought this would be a useful reminder of one aspect of the wars in Afghanistan, one that has had a far greater and direct impact on populations and nation-states in the West. than any amount of possible Islamist terrorism. That is, opium.
- It was during the 1950s that opium production became a significant phenomenon in what was then the Kingdom of Afghanistan, as businessmen and criminals from the Barakzai dynasty worked with their counterparts in neighboring Pakistan to take advantage of world markets. emerging narcotics.
- In the 1970s, the short-lived Republic of Afghanistan was becoming a major player in the supply of opiates to Europe, despite or perhaps because of the half-assed economic reforms of the autocratic Daoud regime.
- The Soviet-backed (Democratic) Republic of Afghanistan experienced a massive increase in opium production in the mid-1980s, partly due to the machinations of the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and the United States of America, that they were using the illicit narcotics trade to undermine communist rule in Kabul and to finance Islamist and tribal opposition groups, some of which would emerge as the amorphous mujahideen movement celebrated by American politicians and journalists during the last decade of the Cold War
- In the 1990s, the US-backed Islamic State of Afghanistan witnessed a continued growth in the illegal drug trade, often with the protection of rival factions in the government and allied regional warlords.
- Between 2000 and 2001, the authoritarian Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan witnessed the world’s most successful anti-drug campaign. Under the brutal leadership of the Taliban government there was a 99% drop in opium cultivation in the territories under their control; territories that had previously fueled nearly 75% of the world’s heroin supply
- Since 2010, the now-collapsed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has supplied up to 90% of the world’s illegal opiate trade, and poppy fields flourished under the sometimes benign presence of the ISAF-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). NATO.
- With the takeover of Kabul by the revived Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the resurgent Taliban government has issued pledges, vowing to destroy opium fields and factories once more, albeit with some skepticism from its critics.
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