Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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U.S. Bombing of Afghan Drug Labs Won’t Crush the Taliban

AAN < 1 min

International Crisis Group, 11 December 2017

Ex-AAN colleague Borhan Osman’s analysis of the ‘new’ US strategy of bombing drug labs in Afghanistan and its futility:

… a coercive counter-narcotics campaign will solve neither the country’s poppy boom nor the Taliban’s profiting from it, which has long depended to an extraordinary extent on very local dynamics. (…) it would be naïve to say the Taliban is fighting because conflict helps it gain control over the profits of the drug trade, or that Afghanistan’s drug production boom is because of the Taliban. The criminal economy thrives on weak state institutions, systemic corruption and poverty, while the insurgency represents, fundamentally, a political challenge. These are separate phenomena with distinct histories and different solutions. (…)

The bulk of the Taliban – fighters, and commanders in non-poppy growing areas as well as leaders who do not deal with finances – are in the dark about the movement’s relationship to drugs. (…)

In November last year, the Taliban’s political emissaries in Qatar sent a message to the international community through independent Afghan political activists: if the government imposes a ban on drugs in its own areas, they said, the Taliban would return to a complete prohibition.