The Trump administration has been working with the Afghan military to cripple a major funding source of the Taliban. Opium. The terrorist group generates an estimated 60% of its funding for weapons from the drug trade. But they’ve been forced to seek alternate revenue streams.
US and Afghan forces keep bombing the poppy fields and drug labs.
“Heroin’s become a global issue,” General Nicholson told reporters on Monday during a teleconference news briefing from Afghanistan. “These criminals living in Afghanistan who are closely linked to the Taliban are responsible for 85 percent of the world’s opium.”
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan this sort of “agriculture” was prohibited. I guess it didn’t serve Allah. Now they rely on it.
Why previous administrations didn’t focus on this is unclear. But times they are a changing.
The United Nations has determined that Helmand is the top poppy-producing province in Afghanistan, the world’s top supplier of heroin’s main ingredient opium.
In a major departure from the previous administration, U.S. President Trump has authorized the American military to target the Taliban’s opium and heroin labs with airstrikes.
A move that is much appreciated by those on the ground.
“The new authorities” granted by Mr. Trump in August “allow me to go after revenue streams of the enemy,” General Nicholson said.
“These strikes required mapping” of the Taliban’s drug depots and revenue infrastructure, he said, “in ways that we have not done before.”
Show me the money!
The Taliban needs money to buy weapons. Without weapons, there is no insurgency. Without an insurgency, there’s less of a reason for us to even be there. Any plan to avoid a power vacuum can’t rely solely on bankrupting the opposition. The moment we leave the drug trade will start back up. So, this isn’t a final solution. Just a piece of that puzzle – unless the Afghans can figure out a way to control this on their own.
There’s no evidence that they can or they want that. But we do need a path to an exit strategy. If this helps I’m all in. Besides, given the issues with heroin around these parts, less of it can’t be a bad thing.