Fighting the Opium Trade in Afghanistan: Myths, Facts, and Sound Policy   [open pdf - 209KB]

"We, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, in conjunction with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, ISAF and international partners, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, are now engaged in a comprehensive initiative to fight the production and trafficking of opium in Afghanistan. There is significant skepticism among the public and the media regarding the counternarcotics effort. We therefore provide the following paper to correct some of the myths about the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan, and to clarify how our programs address the situation on the ground. In summary: Wealthy land owners in the fertile South increasingly control Afghan poppy cultivation; Concentration of poppy cultivation is directly correlated with insecurity; Poppy cultivation is not expected to increase substantially this year; Poppy has largely disappeared from traditional growing areas, and is now cultivated largely on land where legitimate crops once grew; The number of provinces in which poppy cultivation is found has decreased. Counternarcotics activities are led by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, not international contractors; U.S. support of aerial eradication is contingent upon the consent of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the international community agree that forced, targeted, non-negotiated eradication of the fields owned by the wealthy land owners is a necessary law enforcement and counterinsurgency tool; Four high-value drug traffickers have been removed from Afghanistan and indicted abroad."

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