The Taliban relaunch the war on opium, a battle lost in advance?

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In an Afghanistan still in turmoil, the Taliban confirm their intention to eradicate the cultivation of the poppy to put an end to the opium traffic.

This information was relayed by the peasants of Kandahar, one of the main poppy producing provinces with Helmand and Orozgan, three regions located in the south of the country. One month away from seeds, this anti-drug campaign is taken very seriously; Faced with the fear of shortages, the price of raw opium used to manufacture heroin has recently tripled, from 70 to 200 dollars per kilo, report our colleagues from the Wall Street Journal. The Taliban spokesman had announced the color as early as mid-August, farmers are now being warned during local meetings with the country’s new authorities.

An eagerness on the part of the Taliban

80% of the opium and heroin consumed in the world come from Afghanistan. Putting an end to this traffic directed especially towards Europe, Russia and the Middle East would be a pledge given by the new masters of Kabul. They thus want to convince of their real desire to establish good relations with the rest of the world. As international aid evaporates, as foreign exchange reserves for importing dry up, the Taliban urgently needs to engage in dialogue with international institutions.

An illegal, but substantial source of income!

According to a US official quoted in a recent report by the US Special Inspector General for Reconstruction, 60% of the Taliban’s income has so far come from poppies. A very disputed figure, in particular by the expert David Mansfield, who, for his part, minimizes the importance of this so-called goose that lays golden eggs. Nonetheless, these revenues, whether or not they fall into the pockets of the Taliban, play a vital role in the Afghan economy. A former US State Department alumnus half-jokes that drugs are Afghanistan’s biggest industry after war. The poppy generates 7 to 10% of the Afghan GDP depending on the abundance of the harvest and the evolution of the narcotics market. At a time when the economy is drained, one can doubt the determination of the Taliban to bring to an end this anti-drug crusade which could also initially aggravate the difficulties of the Afghans.

An anti-drug crusade already started in 2000

Indeed, under their rule, poppy production fell by 90% that year. An impressive result but very brief. And politically very costly: when the Americans arrive to oust them, the Afghans impoverished by this ban will quickly turn their backs on the army of the Islamists. The United States is taking over and pouring billions of dollars into the fight against this trafficking. Too bad: between 2002 and 2020, the areas planted with poppy have quadrupled.

Can the Taliban win this opium war the Americans have lost?

To be successful, you have to be able to offer an alternative to poppy that is profitable and sustainable. Thailand, which was a secondary producer of opium, managed to eradicate it from its countryside, but it was then a country in full expansion with jobs to be offered in return. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are advising farmers to switch to alternative crops, such as saffron. This is also what the Americans have done. The industry is still nascent. We will see if it is able to replace that of the poppy, well established, practiced for generations and able to quickly provide cash to growers.

IN SHORT

In France from this Monday, the health pass is now compulsory in certain professions. In total, 1.8 million employees are affected. Those who work in direct contact with the public such as waiters, health personnel, public transport or sports halls or cinemas. In the event of control, the refractories expose themselves to contract suspensions, a radical measure that few employers say they are ready to implement.

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