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Afghan Opium Poppy Eradication Policy Flawed

Posted on | June 14, 2012 | No Comments


Opium poppy eradication as a policy in Afghanistan is an abject failure and tragic for Afghan subsistence farmers. Finally the international media is starting to take notice – joined now with the voice of reason from Saudi Arabia of all places:

The poppy is a very useful medicinal plant. Poppy pods when processed scientifically yield opium, morphine, heroin, codeine and many other pharmaceutical products. They are mostly used as sedatives and pain killers, and are also prescribed to relieve colds, cough, and bronchitis. Currently India, Australia, and France are among the few countries that are sanctioned by the United Nations to grow poppies and produce these pharmaceutical products.

Afghanistan should be added to the list of countries permitted to produce the above-mentioned medicinal products. Afghanistan is a natural home for poppy plants. It claims a tremendous natural advantage over other countries in the production of poppy pods. In light of this fact, it is suggested that instead of destroying the poppy crops and dismantling processing labs, the government of Afghanistan with the financial support of a consortium of aid-giving countries, should each year buy the entire standing crop of poppies from farmers at the market price and acquire the primitive poppy pod processing labs, compensating their owners reasonably well.

via Saudi Gazette – Flawed Afghan poppy eradication policy.

Soldiers in Afghan Opium Field

Opium Poppy Eradication has failed as a policy

While it is somewhat surprising to see Saudi Arabia as the voice of sanity in the Afghan poppy eradication policy debate,  it is still welcome news for such a troubled region. This analysis is quite similar to the Senlis Council recommendation, and it is only because of the United States “war on drugs” that forward-thinking and beneficial plans like this are being ignored. Rather than try to get Afghan farmers to grow low-paying crops like saffron, they should be focusing on embracing the farmers and opening up a legitimate market for medicinal production. The era of India, Australia, France and Turkey having a stranglehold on the international legal opioid market needs to come to an end — to the benefit of a people that have already seen too much horror and strife (not to mention the potential effects this could have on de-radicalization of the rural populace).


The US – Afghan opium war

Posted on | June 13, 2012 | 1 Comment


Looking back at bare facts of the recent Afghan history, what do we see? Afghanistan became a hub for opium production during the Soviet military presence there, and in 1995, Charles Cogan, the former CIA Director of clandestine Afghan operation, admitted that while assisting the mujahedeen, the US authorities closed their eyes on the fact that their assistance, among other things was used for increasing opium production, and drug sales which were used for acquiring weapons.

“Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,” Cogan told Australian television in 1995. “I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, but the main objective was accomplished.”

So, the incentive to opium production in Afghanistan was made by the Americans themselves.

via The US – Afghan opium war: Voice of Russia.

It’s easy to arrest a single drug trafficker and blame the Taliban. Despite the hyperbole of the article, it correctly notes that this only disguises a much deeper root cause. Without viable alternative crops (or even better, embrace the opium farmers and create a competitive medical pharmaceutical market — as the ICOS has already recommended), Afghan farmers are going to continue supporting the worldwide illicit drug trade — Taliban or no Taliban.

Taliban, poppies returning to once-secure Afghan province

Posted on | June 12, 2012 | No Comments


Four years ago, Afghan and U.S. officials touted Nangarhar as a model for Afghanistan’s other 33 provinces, bolstered by successes against the Taliban and the near-total eradication of opium poppies.

The tide has since turned. Poppy growing is rising, as is support for the insurgency, fueled in part by a harsh government poppy-eradication drive that’s sparked clashes and led some farmers to sow land mines. Many people fear that one of the most crucial provinces will only slip deeper into bloodshed and corruption as U.S. troops withdraw.

via Taliban, poppies returning to once-secure Afghan province – Middle East – Stripes.

This just goes to show that the recommendations of the Senlis Council should have been followed. Moving Afghanistan towards being a legitimate supplier of opiates for the pharmaceutical market makes a lot more sense than telling farmers to just switch to low-paying crops like saffron instead.

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