Crime Current Affairs Politics

The Big Winner In Afghanistan: The Opium And Heroin Trade

With the reestablishment 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, an aspect that has had a far greater and direct impact on the populations and nation-states of the West than any amount of would-be Islamist terrorism. Namely, opium.

  • It was during the 1950s that the production of opium became a significant phenomenon in what was then the Kingdom of Afghanistan, as entrepreneurs and criminals under the Barakzai dynasty worked with their counterparts in neighboring Pakistan to tap into the emerging global narcotics markets
  • By 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 half-baked economic reforms by the autocratic Daoud regime
  • The Soviet-backed (Democratic) Republic of Afghanistan saw a massive increase of opium production in the mid-1980s, partly through the machinations of the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and the United States of America, who were using the trade in illicit narcotics to undermine the communist government in Kabul and fund opposition Islamist and tribal groupings – some of which would emerge as the amorphous Mujahideen movement celebrated by US politicians and journalists during the last decade of the Cold War
  • In the 1990s, the American-backed Islamic State of Afghanistan witnessed continued growth in the illegal drugs trade, often with the protection of rival factions in the government and allied regional warlords
  • From 2000 to 2001 the authoritarian Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan witnessed the most successful anti-drugs campaign in the world. Under the brutal direction of the Taliban government there was a 99% drop in opium farming in the territories under its control; territories that had previously fed almost 75% of the world’s heroin supply
  • Since 2010, the now collapsed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan supplied up to 90% of the world’s illegal opiates trade, with poppy fields flourishing under the sometimes benign presence of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
  • With the seizure of Kabul by the revived Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, pledges have been issued by the resurgent Taliban government, promising to destroy the opium fields and factories once again, though with some scepticism from their critics

For more, watch this interview on the YouTube politics channel Breaking Points.

11 comments on “The Big Winner In Afghanistan: The Opium And Heroin Trade

  1. Diarmuid Breatnach

    Really interesting though not surprising — go raibh maith agat! Will probably share this later.


  2. And if you go back to Iran/Contra days the aeroplanes flew down to Central America with guns and ammunition and came back carrying cocaine.


  3. “90% of the world’s illegal opiates trade”

    What a statistic. But all too credible.


    • I take all drug related stats with a grain of salt. Certainly opium is big in Afghanistan but do the other regions all add up to a paltry 10%?

      Also opioids are increasingly synthetic.


  4. notimportant

    I think you are missing a HUGE winner, ASF. The rare earth minerals industry and the many industries that rely on those materials. That and Russia and China and possibly Iran. Afghanistan can serve as land for a pipeline from the oil rich countries to China, and both China and Russia (and possibly Iran) can use their influence and cooperation to make profits off of “rebuilding” the country the same way the US did as well as through rare earth mineral mining.

    I’d rather their neighbors be involved in the Middle East than the US but still. They’re going to bleed Afghanistan dry of its resources the same way the US did in Iraq after the war.

    None of this would likely be possible if the US hadn’t invaded Afghanistan and pushed the Taliban out of many parts of the country.

    Thank God Bush didn’t understand the future importance of rare earth minerals or we might never have left.


    • notimportant

      But I am very glad to see you’ve discovered Breaking Points. They can be as dishonest/biased as MSM about some things but for the most part they call out everybody equally and don’t push an agenda the way leftist or right wing podcasts tend to.


  5. I like Krystal Ball a lot but she does seem to spend a lot of time bashing Establishment Democrats. Her partner doesn’t seem to spend so much time bashing the Establishment Republicans. And they gave us Trump by not backing one candidate against him in 2016 and bringing Trump down when they had the power to do so. Trump or one of his kids could still run in 2024 and win the Republican primary. The GOP are now the party of Trump.


  6. notimportant

    We need a legitimate independent party or to just abolish parties altogether and force people to vote based on the candidates and policies instead. I’m definitely gonna do my part to try to create more working class independents and bring people together around common sense ideas that respect the people involved in whatever the issue is at hand rather than imposing academic concepts onto them.

    Krystal is a total wine mom lol but she at least calls out some of the left in addition to the GOP. And they both constantly crap on neocons and other warmongers, which is refreshing.

    Glenn Greenwald is another journalist who calls out that particular cohort and sees how the authoritarian left is behaving exactly like the GOP under Bush. He basically has no choice but to go on Fox News and on alternative platforms because he dared call out and expose the worst of the left as a guy who’s built his career on leftism.

    If you all want a comical look at all of it, you should check out Siraj Hashmi sometime and his list. They’re classic.


  7. john cronin

    Er, look it just me? ma ma god rest her had v seriious rheumatoid arthritis. was on heroin for years, well they dont it that. its called opiate. wh didnt nato buy the stuff from tne farmers and use it for medicinal reasons


  8. john cronin

    Morphine is the word i am looking for here


  9. Barra na h-Aoine

    Find it hard to believe that there are still folk out there falling for this covid scam


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