Cooperation, but No Solutions on Afghanistan Narcotics

Cooperation, but No Solutions on Afghanistan Narcotics

On Sept. 6, members of Afghanistan's upper house of parliament declared that the Afghan government and the international community have failed in their counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan. Just three months earlier, Afghan Deputy Minister for Counternarcotics Baz Mohammad Ahmadi told reporters that more than 3 million Afghans continue to participate in the illicit drug industry. He pleaded with the international community to support further operations, especially in Afghanistan's border provinces, and to consider establishing a counternarcotics academy within Afghanistan.

Ten years after the United States first invaded the country on Oct. 7, 2001, the drug menace emanating from Afghanistan remains potent. Over the past 10 years, the illicit production of opium (the precursor to heroin) and cannabis resin (hashish) has surged. Afghanistan now produces 90 percent of the world's illicit opiates and leads the world in hashish production, with approximately 1,700-3,000 metric tons or more produced annually, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Worse still, the tsunami of Afghan-origin narcotics continues to leave a trail of destruction across South and Central Asia's social, health and legal landscape.

Iran, Russia and other critics of the international intervention in Afghanistan have been quick to blame the presence of foreign forces there for the increase in illicit drug production and trafficking. The head of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), Viktor Ivanov, routinely describes the presence of international troops in Afghanistan as the leading cause of the more than 40-fold increase in poppy cultivation over the 2000-2001 opium harvest, which produced only 185 tons. Production peaked in 2007 at 8,200 metric tons.

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