There are many reasons given for the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan. Most are flimsy. One was to limit the production of opium in Afghanistan, a drug which was flooding the west. It seems after inital successes this is yet another mission western forces have failed to complete successfully.
News this week reports that for a successive third year opium poppy cultivation has increased. Afghanistan also has a growing problem, or maybe long standing one, with addicts. A U.N. report confirmed the situation Monday.
In the south of Afghanistan, allegedly a Taliban stronghold, the poppy crops are booming. This is in an area now abandoned by foreign trrops or where forces are gradually leaving. Many pundits had predicted the Taliban would simply gain ground when foreign forces finally left Afghanistan but it seems some are not waiting for their total withdrawal. It was expected that these groups of insurgents would take some hold on Afghanistan but it was hoped it would be a minor role.
Now it seems that will not be the case. The increase in opium poppy is a double negative whammies.
With a crippled economy Afghans may see poppy fields as a way to generate income. Opium prices are high around the world, especially in the west and the demand for the drug is as strong as ever.
CBS reports, "Crop sales mostly fund local power brokers and criminal gangs in Afghanistan and to a lesser degree the Taliban, Western experts believe. This makes it difficult for the Afghan government to establish control in areas where the economy is driven by black-market opium sales, despite a small but effective counter narcotics force.
"As we have predicted, opium will go up for a third year in a row," said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, which prepared the report along with the Afghan Counter narcotics Ministry. "We are looking at a record high cultivation."
The Afghanistan Opium Winter Risk Assessment 2013 issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was conducted in two phases. One from December to January for central, eastern, southern and western Afghanistan, where opium was sown in the fall of 2012, and another in February and March that covered northern and northeastern Afghanistan, where opium is usually planted in the spring.
The exact figure for 2013 is still unclear, but the U.N. said that indications are it will surpass the 154,000 hectares planted in 2012, and the 131,000 in 2011."
A pointless war from start to finish. A war of vengeance for the 9/11 bombings which hit many innocent civilians. A war which also hit many civilians. A war that was doomed to fail no matter what effort it was given. Yes, many insurgents were killed but so were many members of the foreign forces and Afghan civilians.
A new breed of insurgent was created out of hate for the foreign invaders and more. Now there is also the increase in opium poppy to concern us all.