A U.N. report finds Afghanistan has regained its title as the world’s leading producer of opium and heroin, returning to levels not seen since the 1990s. That’s when the country produced 70 percent of the world’s illegal opium.
The campaign to relegate the Taliban to history may have actually helped Afghan drug traffickers, who supply Southwest and Central Asia, Eastern and Western Europe and all of Africa.
“The power vacuum in Kabul caused by the aftermath of 11 September 2001 enabled farmers to replant opium poppy,” according to the U.N. report. By the time an interim administration was seated, most poppy fields were ready for harvest.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has banned opium production — a cash cow for terrorists. And the government offers farmers $500 per acre to obliterate poppy fields. But drug traffickers reportedly are paying more than $6,000 an acre.
Now there’s concern that Afghan heroin traffickers may partner with Colombian cartels and broach new markets — in the United States, where heroin use and overdose deaths are on the rise.
And what share of the profits will al-Qaida claim?
Meanwhile, Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s supreme commander, reportedly is reorganizing a campaign against U.S. forces and the Afghan government.
Post-war Afghanistan must become more than a blip on the U.S. radar screen. Or we’ll pay dearly for that disregard.