40-fold drug surge in Afghanistan: report
Press TV – May 10, 2009
Iranian police officials say drug production in Afghanistan has had a 40-fold increase since the US led invasion of the country in 2001.
Afghanistan's opium poppy crop is set to break all records this year, as grim reports by Iranian sources showed that drug production has reached a new height in the land-locked country.
Instability in the wake of the US invasion is widely believed to be the main reason behind Afghanistan's booming market for drug production and opium trade.
According to official statistics, two thirds of the world's heroin supply reportedly comes from the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.
While Afghanistan produced only 185 tons of opium under the Taliban, following the US invasion drug production, according to UN statistics, surged to 3,400 tons and by 2007, opium trade reached all-time high of 8,200 tons.
Afghan and Western officials blame Washington and its NATO allies for the sudden surge, saying they overlooked the drug problem for more than seven years after invasion of the country.
“[The US and its allies] didn't want anything to do with either interdiction or eradication," said Thomas Schweich, a former Bush administration ambassador for counternarcotics. "We warned them over and over again: Look at Colombia."
The Bush administration waged "Operation Enduring Freedom" on Afghanistan in 2001, to allegedly capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban and bring stability to the volatile region.
The invasion of Afghanistan was also justified as part of the West's "war on drugs."
"The al-Qaeda network and the Taliban regime are funded in large part [by] the drugs trade," ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in 2001 when confirming London's participation in the US attack on Afghanistan.
Iran lies on a transit corridor between opium producers in Afghanistan and drug dealers in Europe.
As a lead donor nation to Afghanistan, Iran has annually contributed more than $50 million to Afghan counternarcotics efforts in the past five years.
The United Nations credited Iran for the seizure of 80 per cent of the opium netted around the world in 2007.
Last updated 13/05/2009