Despite a US-led multi-billion dollar, multi-year counter-opium campaign in Afghanistan, the opium trade made a dramatic comeback in 2013 and is once again funding Taliban jihadi operations, setting the stage for a Taliban comeback as the US reduces its military presence.
“…several areas once declared poppy-free by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are now awash in opium, the raw ingredient in heroin.”
“…Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, declared poppy-free in 2008 and cited as a model for successful interdiction. The province saw a fourfold increase in opium production in 2013.”
“In 2013, Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 516,000 acres of opium poppy, surpassing the previous record of 477,000 acres in 2007, according to the U.N. drug office.”
“Much of it is grown in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, strongholds of Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan.”
“…members of (the) government continued to reap enormous profits from their roles in the opium trade as the Taliban used opium income to help sustain its fight against coalition and government forces.”