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  Opium a Concern in War on Terrorism
Posted by FoM on September 27, 2001 at 07:44:47 PT
By John J. Lumpkin, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press 

justice Opium could again flow from Afghanistan should the United States make war on terrorism in the region, U.S. and U.N. officials say. The officials said they are concerned the ruling Taliban will lift their recent ban on poppy cultivation in its territory in an effort to raise money to finance fighting against the United States.

Harvesting of poppies for opium could also increase if the Taliban loses authority over parts of Afghanistan, because farmers would no longer fear reprisals for growing the highly profitable cash crop.

Afghanistan had been the world's leading producer of opium before the Taliban, citing Islamic religious principles, banned it in July 2000. Farmers complied, resulting in a 97 percent drop in opium production.

Opium had been an important source of revenue for the Taliban as they fought an opposition coalition in the northern part of the country, netting the group tens of millions of dollars a year, said one U.S. official.

No U.S. officials interviewed Wednesday, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, nor U.N. officials, said they have evidence that the ban has been lifted.

"After the 11th of September, our line of communication and information of Afghanistan has been drastically reduced," said Pino Arlacchi, executive director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

With the next six-month growing season set to begin in October, farmers will have to choose between planting poppies or the much less profitable wheat crop.

"Hundreds of thousands of farmers are asking themselves what to plant this year: wheat or opium," Arlacchi said. "If they plant now, they will get a harvest around April or May next year. Will the Taliban be there April or May next year?"

Arlacchi said opium is a good crop for bad times because it requires little water and can be sold easily.

In 2000, Afghanistan produced about 4,000 tons of opium, accounting for about 75 percent of the world market. Almost all of it was consumed as heroin in Europe or other opiates in Asia. Most heroin sold in the United States comes from Latin America.

After the ban, production in 2001 fell to 81 tons, according to the State Department. Of those, 76 tons came from areas controlled by the northern alliance, the primary opposition to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The alliance is believed to fund its effort in part through opium trafficking, as well.

The drop in supply caused the wholesale price per pound to soar from about $15 to as high as $350, according to U.N. officials. The ban earned rare praise for the Taliban, which have been repeatedly denounced for links to terrorists, suppression of women and destruction of relics of other religions.

U.S. and international officials have remained skeptical of the Taliban's commitment to drug eradication. Some suspected the Taliban were trying to cut supply to raise prices and control the market. They also said the Taliban hadn't wiped out existing stockpiles, which the United Nations said could total 100 tons.

This week, wholesale prices fell, according to U.N. figures, leading to speculation that Afghan traffickers may already be selling their stock.

But Arlacchi said that doesn't mean the Taliban would be involved in the sales.

"Criminal groups, who are as powerful as the Taliban and as powerful as anyone else in Afghanistan, have full control of those stockpiles," he said.

Before Sept. 11, the United States had planned to provide about $2 million in aid for Afghan farmers to help compensate them for losses resulting from opium eradication.

Additional aid was considered for farmers in areas controlled by the opposition. State Department and U.N. officials said northern alliance leaders have agreed to help eradicate opium.

In March, the State Department said in its annual narcotics report that the "northern alliance has taken no action of which we are aware against cultivation and trafficking in its area."

Source: Associated Press
Author: John J. Lumpkin, Associated Press Writer
Published: September 27, 2001
Copyright: 2001 The Associated Press

Related Articles:

Taliban Rely on Drug Money, says DEA Chief

Afghan Opium Production May Rise

Bush Administration Cut Faustian Deal with Taliban

Hutchinson Helping Track Terrorists

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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on September 28, 2001 at 08:12:32 PT:

CDave, the Euros feel the same way about US
US as I mean the US Government. But also about the US citizen.

They know why the drug trade is so profitable. They know how it got that way. Namely, how the US literally prosletyzed (in the old meaning of the word) its' DrugWar Creed in the literal name of Jesus (Gonna convert them yellow, dope-smoking Chinks inta Good Christians!) and bullied the rest of the world into a series of treaties which have led to this awful mess.

They know. They have traditionally been closer to the problem than we have. And have felt the impact of these poorly thought out policies based on religious zeal rather than logical thinking. That's why, when they saw their chance, they booted the US of the UN Narcotics Control Board earlier this year; they realized that there was scant hope for a Bush Squared Administration to reform the drug laws and end the DrugWar. Which has put their societies on the short, sharp and dirty end of the US DrugWar stick.

So they are going it alone. And despite all the war drumbeating and the media screeching about the Taliban/Afghanistan/opium connection (as if Afghanistan and opium were both something that had only just been discovered last week) have you noticed something?

During this latest world crisis, the Bush Too Adminstration has been suspiciously silent about the new course of our allies in abandoning the US-style DrugWar. Guess ol' W doesn't want to piss off the people he definitely will need help from. So, despite all the moralizing about equating terrorism and terrorists with drug use and drug users, and all the opportunities that that might present in trying to bring the Euros into line again with US policy, it's not being done. The Euros are being left alone. Curious, ain't it?

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Comment #5 posted by FoM on September 27, 2001 at 21:07:25 PT
Interesting Article
Seeking Rest From the Terrors, New York Pops Pills

Published: Thursday September 27 5:46 PM ET

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by Cannabis Dave on September 27, 2001 at 13:28:06 PT
The actual amount doesn't matter - it is HUGE!
The demand for opium is probably stable (although gradually growing no doubt), so the supply which is available and expected next season is what drives that market. When I heard the Taliban had virtually wiped-out the entire opium poppy harvest after having supplied 75% of the worlds production for years, I couldn't believe they really did that for "religious" reasons - if that was the case, then why didn't they do it sooner? Now we learn that it drove up the market so much that their opium stockpiles increased from about $30 to $500+ a kilo (or whatever...a lot). In other words, they made much more money by not allowing the poppy harvest last season than they would have had they allowed it to go on. On top of the huge profit they will make now taxing the opium and heroin traders, the American government also gave them $43 MILLION recently, and it seems that the USA isn't even the destination of that heroin - it is mostly consumed in Europe and Asia while in this country our heroin comes primarily from Latin America (esp. Columbia and Mexico). So it seems that our government helped Europe and Asia with their heroin problem, but why should we AMERICAN taxpayers pay for decreasing the heroin supply in other countries? This whole thing totally STINKS! Drugs and weapons and terrorism are closely related, so they will surely be in the news together from now on. Now we can look forward to government goons trampling on citizens rights in their overzealous persuit of "terrorists" - who defines what a "terrorist" is anyway? It's rather intangible, so many innocent people are going to be accused of being a "terrorist", sort of like they used to accuse people of being "communist". There is no way to prove it in many cases, but look how many people had their lives ruined by being called a "commie"! In the city I live in (Portland, OR), we don't trust our police department enough to allow them to be part of a terrorism task force. The chief of police is insisting we can trust them with the increased power of surveillance and secrecy it would give them, but we citizens laugh at that thought - we know all too well that we can NOT trust our police department, because they have violated that trust time after time. We're still fighting for citizen oversight of police abuses, but they've been fighting us on that for many years. Now they want us to tust them even more when we already don't trust them - HA! I will NEVER trust the police until EVERY police officer on duty is monitored by real-time video whenever they are working, like some cars are now using when they make stops. Our military and special weapons teams use real-time video, and there is no reason why EVERY cop on duty shouldn't be monitored while they are on duty. Everything would be recorded, so that if there is any question about wheather the police acted properly it can be reviewed. The police NEED to be monitored to keep them honest. That is the ONLY way they will ever get my trust again, and I think that I speak for most people in that reguard. Even people who trust police should welcome having them monitored/recorded whenever they are on duty - why not?

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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on September 27, 2001 at 11:07:03 PT
Let's all chip in
and buy Ashcroft a calculator.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Silent_Observer on September 27, 2001 at 10:08:24 PT complete your equation...
Profit due to stockpiling = 70 - 3, or 67 mil. Subsidy from Uncle Sam = 43 mil

Total profit = 110 mil.

Hmmm...all for doing NOTHING!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on September 27, 2001 at 09:30:54 PT
Can't ANYONE do the MATH????
I guess we have here proof that America's low standing in science and math testing is having a real impact on public policy.

Obviously the reporter who wrote this article is a long way from being able to do simple multiplication.

The Taliban have 100 tons of opium. The price is $15 per pound, that means their stockpile is only worth $3 million

If the price climbs to $350 per pound, that means their opium stash has climbed in value to $70 million.

So hey, look at this great progress we have made in the Drug War:

The Taliban have cleared a profit of $63 million from our interference alone!

They scored big time on us and i assume that our supreme stupidity will help them continue to score big time in this war.

They are smarter than we are. Let's just face it. They have way out smarted us here.

We paid them $43 million so that they could increase the worth of their opium from $3 million to $70 million.

They outsmarted us. We are an idiot country. We are stupid, stupid, stupid, and we have stupid law enforcement people and even stupider journalists.

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