Who Benefits from the Afghan Drug Trade

Who Benefits from the Afghan Drug Trade?

UN has declared Afghanistan the biggest producer of opium; a multi-billion business in the world. However, Afghan economy does not benefit from this trade in a worthwhile manner. Afghan opium farmers continue to stay as poor. Local insurgents and warlords control the business of distributing the drugs and make some money. However, the massive profits are only made by drug traffickers abroad in Europe and United States through its export as its value increases with every border crossing. It is said almost no drug pusher can operate in a rich and high demand country without the consent of CIA. 

Who Benefits from the Afghan Drug Trade

By Shirin Gul

The CIA has a long history of being involved in global drug trade in all parts of the world under the control of the US or where it has considerable influence. While a few cases have been investigated and exposed by journalists, the issue continues to remain in the shadows.

The CIA’s drug history in Afghanistan begins in the 1980s.  Drugs were seen as the quickest and easiest way to earn money to fund CIA proxies and paramilitary forces against USSR. Gary Webb, the brave journalist who exposed the Nicaraguan Contra drug trafficking scandal and was eventually driven to ‘suicide’, described the process like this:

“We (CIA) need money for a covert operation, the quickest way to raise it is selling cocaine, you guys go sell it somewhere, we don’t want to know anything about it.”

This tactic worked very successfully in Afghanistan during the Cold War when the Mujahideen forces serving the US were partly funded through drugs. Before the US invasion in 2001, the poppy fields were eradicated by the Taliban. Right after the US invasion, drug production began increasing drastically, and today Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium, and on the verge of becoming a narco-state.

Other players in this so-called ‘counter-narcotics’ efforts are private US contractors who earn millions of dollars through counter-narcotics contracts. One of the biggest beneficiaries is the notorious security company, Blackwater (renamed as Xe Services in 2009 and now known as Academi since 2011) which according to Russian TV earned 569 million dollars from these contracts. Private contractor companies have a huge share of the profits of the war in Afghanistan, and so called ‘war on drugs’ results in huge profits for them.

Afghanistan’s opium economy is a multibillion-dollar operation which feeds the surge of the US heroin market. Few people also claim that one of the main reason for the invasion of Afghanistan by the US was to hold its grip on the narcotics business which is the 3rd important trade commodity in terms of income after weapon and oil business.

Instability, insecurity, poverty and deeply-entrenched social and economic problems help the US and its favorite partner India to remain in power without any opposition from the people of Afghanistan.

There have even been reports in mainstream media that CIA officers are directly involved in drug operations in Afghanistan. A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Edward Follis, stated that the CIA “turned a blind eye” to the drug trade in Afghanistan. Most recently, John Abbotsford an ex-CIA analyst and war veteran who fought in Afghanistan confessed that CIA had a role in drug smuggling operations.

Even if we reject aforesaid claims and reports, it is hard to believe that a superpower that boasts the most modern technology in surveillance and intelligence-gathering cannot find opium fields and track supply routes within a country it occupies. The world including the US has spent 8 billion dollars in drug eradication efforts for the past decade but opium production has only soared in Afghanistan.

It is a clear indication that the drug business serves US interest in Afghanistan, or it would have been finished a long time ago.

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