Tags: Afghanistan | War on Terrorism | taliban | drug cartel | peace | financial obstacle

NY Times: Taliban Essentially a Drug Cartel

Image: NY Times: Taliban Essentially a Drug Cartel
Heroin discovered by customs officials in Pakistan. (Rizwan Tabassum/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 07:06 PM

As high-ranking Taliban officials have become entrenched in the opium trade, the prospect of peace is diminishing.

According to a New York Times report, top Taliban leaders have become enmeshed in the trade, and the United Nations warns that making peace with the West would actually hurt their bottom line.

"This trend has real consequences for peace and security in Afghanistan, as it encourages those within the Taliban movement who have the greatest economic incentives to oppose any meaningful process of reconciliation with the new government," the most recent U.N. monitoring report said.

In July 2014, Afghan forces stopped a convoy, seizing almost a metric ton of opium, along with weapons and communications equipment.

They also arrested a man who identified himself as Muhammad Eshaq, a carpet seller from Nimruz. Further investigation determined his real name was Mullah Abdul Rashid Baluch, and he was a Taliban shadow governor of Numruz Province with links to top Taliban leaders.

Mullah Rashid had been an insurgent who planned a suicide attack in the region before becoming a drug smuggler, and his story is repeated multiple times across Pakistan.

And the Taliban is involved in virtually ever part of the supply chain, in some cases providing poppy seeds to farmers to grow opium or paying middlemen to store it until prices rise. It's become hard to tell the Taliban from a drug cartel, the Times noted.

Afghanistan's poppy crop also provides most of the world's heroin, CBS News reported in May. Heroin use has been on the rise in the United States since 2006, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported an estimated 669,000 people had used the drug in 2012, the last year for which figures are available.

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As high-ranking Taliban officials have become entrenched in the opium trade, the prospect of peace is diminishing. According to a New York Times report, top Taliban leaders have become enmeshed in the trade, and the United Nations warns that making peace with the West would...
taliban, drug cartel, peace, financial obstacle
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2016-06-16
Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 07:06 PM
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