Taliban To Lift Ban on Farmers Growing Opium 

Taliban To Lift Ban on Farmers Growing Opium 
Posted by FoM on September 25, 2001 at 07:47:09 PT
By Luke Harding in Islamabad
Source: Guardian Unlimited
In a dramatic and little-noticed reversal of policy, the Taliban have told farmers in Afghanistan that they are free to start planting poppy seeds again if the Americans decide to launch a military attack. Drug enforcement agencies last night confirmed that they expect to see a massive resumption of opium cultivation inside Afghanistan, previously the world's biggest supplier of heroin, in the next few weeks. The Taliban virtually eradicated Afghanistan's opium crop last season after an edict by Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader. 
In July last year he said that growing opium was "un-Islamic" and warned that anyone caught planting seeds would be severely punished. Taliban soldiers enforced the ruling two summers ago and made thousands of villagers across Afghanistan plough up their fields. Earlier this year UN observers agreed that Afghanistan's opium crop had been completely wiped out. Last night Bernard Frahi, the head of the UN's drugs control programme (UNDCP) in Islamabad, confirmed that the price of opium had suddenly plunged. Existing opium stockpiles had fallen in value because of the prospect of new cultivation. "Our sources tell us the price has decreased," he said. Farmers were also ready to exploit the fact that no new post-Taliban administration was likely to be in place in Kabul before next spring. "All the ingredients for illicit cultivation are there: war, continuing poverty and a breakdown in law and order. We could see a huge resumption in cultivation," Mr Frahi said. The farmers are expected to begin planting poppy seeds in the next few weeks. The traditional planting season is from mid-October to late November or early December. Although opium grows across Afghanistan, the main area of cultivation has been the fertile Helmand valley in the south, and around Jalalabad in the east. Opium has flourished in Afghanistan since the time of Alexander the Great, when it was used as medicine. But under the Taliban production increased spectacularly, to the point where Afghanistan supplied 80% of Europe's heroin. In the year before Mullah Omar's edict, some 82,000 hectares of land were planted with poppy. Last night one Afghan trader, who had just fled from Afghanistan, said the price of opium per kilo had now fallen from 50,000 Pakistani rupees (525) to 10,000 rupees (105). Everybody was trying to offload existing stocks, he said. "Almost all Afghans will be cultivating poppy as it was their only cash crop. They can't cultivate other crops as the soil is fit only for poppy cultivation," he claimed. Mullah Omar's now defunct ruling caused deep resentment among impoverished Afghans in rural areas, who were forced last year to plant wheat instead. Previously, farmers with a few acres of land were able to make up to 350 in a good season from growing opium, a small fortune in a country where the average monthly salary is only 3. The crop is known locally as hashar. "We don't have anything," Rashid, a farmer in the village of Hadda in eastern Afghanistan, lamented in March. "All the young people have gone to Pakistan. Ninety percent of this area used to be cultivated with poppy. How much money can you make from wheat?" Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the Taliban's foreign affairs spokesman, complained earlier this year that the international community had not rewarded Afghanistan for wiping out opium - an "epic task", he said. "The response to this tremendous achievement was unexpected. They imposed more and more sanctions on us," he added. With Afghanistan's borders now officially closed it is not clear how any new crop will be shipped out of the country after harvesting early next year. Most observers, however, believe dealers will make use of existing smuggling routes, via Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan's lawless northern neighbours, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The UNDCP last night said it had lost touch with its local staff inside Afghanistan following the Taliban's edict to hang anyone found using a satellite phone. Taliban officials in Islamabad were unable to confirm that Mullah Omar's edict had been abandoned. Note: Edict reverses policy that wiped out crop.Complete Title: Taliban To Lift Ban on Farmers Growing Opium if US Attacks Special Report: Terrorism Crisis Report: Afghanistan Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Luke Harding in IslamabadPublished: Tuesday, September 25, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters Articles & Web Site:Holy Warriors Escalate an Old War Administration Cut Faustian Deal with Taliban on Terrorism Threatens War on Drugs Drug War Pays Afghans Who Aid Terrorists
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #10 posted by kaptinemo on September 26, 2001 at 04:14:37 PT:
CS, there's a real danger here
A few months ago, the company I provide desktop support for had sent out a memo: How to assist government agencies in achieving self-sufficiency in funding. Whether this is a direct result of forfeitures cutting agencies loose from the traditional means of control-by-budget or not, I don't know. I didn't attend the meeting. But the very idea smacks of a government out of control. Because when governments can support themselves without dependence upon the people it purports to serve, the tendency historically has been for those governments to become even less responsive to those people.And turning on them.I've mentioned this before, and we've seen this in action in California. Local police get 'grants' (translation: taxpayer money from Federal coffers, forcibly extracted from us under threat of imprisonment for refusing to pay) from the Feds to do DrugWar activities. The local police are no longer dependent upon the local budget restricting their activities (and therefore, controlled by the local populace); they now have deeper pockets. Their command orientation turns, not from local control, but to Federal control. And they flip the bird to the people they are supposed to serve, instead carrying out the whims of the Feds.Now, multiply this a million or more times. Imagine a Federal government capable of funding itself practically forever from oil. It will no longer be responsive to the very people it needs to be; it can do what it wants. And we saw at Ruby Ridge, at Waco, in the Amazon with the Bower's, and now at Rainbow Farms, what happens when government gets to do what it wants with no hands around its' neck, threatening to throttle it if it doesn't behave.This whole biz about terrorism is one of the most naked power grabs I've ever seen the Powers-That-Be pull. Like he Gulf was, it's really all about oil...period. It is also one of the most dangerous gambles in history; play your cards right, you're King of the World. Blow it, and we have Armageddon. Russia, China, Pakistan and India all have nukes. Many of the Russian nukes were in Kazakhstan, just north of Afghanistan...and remember, some have gone missing.This is like having somebody else who is none too bright (the US taxpayer and the US military) sticking his head into a bee's nest to get you the honey you're too 'valuable' to risk yourself to get. Same old game, children, same old game. Straw men and shell games. Punch-and-Judy for the masses. A 'splendid little war' far from home...which will make already fabulously wealthy and powerful people the absolute monarchs of the planet. To directly answer your question, CS, if the USG's masters get their hands on this oil, it's 'perpetual lights' out for the US. Unless, as 4D has rightfully pointed out, this could very well be a trap to sucker us into committing forces there, and a 'rogue state' like Iraq or North Korea decides it's the perfect time to pull some s**t while Uncle is busy in Southern Asia.MacArthur, pompous political ass that he was, had one thing right. He warned us many years ago: don't get involved in an Asian land war; there's lots more of them than there are of us. We are about to be reminded of the truth of that.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by FoM on September 25, 2001 at 21:12:12 PT
The War We Should Fight - American Prospect
Source: American Prospect
Volume 12, Issue 18.  October 22, 2001
Copyright: 2001 by The American Prospect, Inc.
By Paul Starr
Let there be no doubt that America is justifed in going to war against what President Bush describes as terrorism of "global reach." After September 11, we have to assume that any group willing to kill thousands of people in the World Trade Center's twin towers would be willing to use weapons of mass destruction. We have every right to defend ourselves by pursuing such terrorists not only in the United States and nations that ally themselves with us, but also in the countries that provide havens for them.
Yet while a war is justified, it is not at all clear what kind of war it should be. There are both practical and moral risks of overextending American power and generating new troubles for ourselves and our friends in the Islamic world. Even the administration, which seems agreed on short-term objectives, is divided between those who favor an escalating war against an array of states (notably including Iraq) and those who favor a delimited war in Afghanistan. Amid the spectrum of possibilities, consider these:
Holy Warriors Escalate an Old War on a New Front
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by FoM on September 25, 2001 at 20:44:23 PT:
How Bin Laden Funds His Network
October 1, 2001 Vol. 158 No. 15
The War On Terror/The Investigation
By Adam Cohen
The day before the World Trade Center attack, someone had a bad feeling about American Airlines. Chicago's options exchange usually gets bullish and bearish orders in equal numbers, but on Sept. 10, there was heavy betting that American's stock was headed down. On the first day of trading after the attack, the company's stock plummeted 40%--and the investors who guessed right made millions.,9171,1101011001-175972,00.html
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by CongressmanSuet on September 25, 2001 at 20:41:30 PT
 "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride"...
   I think we have hit the military-industrial war complex, energy conglomerate mother-lode! Two wars at once! One long, drawn out, something for tv every now and then undefinable money sucking "crusade" against terrorism, which will enlarge the powers of gov over all of us, and a nice, "now we got Columbia by the b*lls" little excursion to win the WoDs, and of course, protect our vested interests, hell, maybe even increase our value. Imagine the air of excitement surrounding the military upper echelon these days. And it all comes down to oil. And with what we know about hemp, I think this is the most incredible situation, so ironic and so sad. Hey Kap, how long do you think we will be able to keep it up, financially, 2 fronts that is?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by Silent_Observer on September 25, 2001 at 12:53:57 PT
Boy, this is some poke in the eye..
I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. One moment there's all this patriotism, the moving speeches, the heroics; and the next moment, you hear about the USG getting even more draconian, and making moves towards resembling the very Taliban that it purports to abhor.Us regular folks seem to be getting the shaft from everywhere!Are the majority of people out there really this programmed and dumb?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on September 25, 2001 at 12:03:57 PT:
Ha hahahahahaha! (sardonic laughter)
And to think that there were US Government officials (like the 'great' Colin Powell) who fell for giving the Tali's 43 Million of our money for having performed (as some UN wonk claimed recently) an 'extraordinary effort' in ridding their country of opium production...Suck-ers!I suppose if I dress in rags, wrap one around my hread, indiscriminately shoot men, women and children for perceived slights against God, and swear I'll be a good little DrugWarrior, too, I can get some money from Uncle. Hey, why not? It worked before, didn't it?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by john wayne on September 25, 2001 at 11:49:00 PT
Fighting two wars, that is, against drugs and against terrorism on many fronts is easy.  All it takes is more funding of the appropriate secretive federal agency.  And less of those pesky civil rights in the US.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on September 25, 2001 at 10:11:04 PT
  $43M in US money for pledging to stop the opium crop. And it was done also to drive up the prices of the Taliban's heroin stock already harvested. And now they're turning around and deluging the market with cheap skag, now that they've got the borders clamped down so tight no cannabis can get through. Damn, crafty ain't they? They KNOW the US will not implement a harm reduction strategy, so they're again doing the least they possibly can to cause the most chaos.  And how were we planning, last May, to be sure that there was no opium being grown in Afghanistan anyways? Perhaps we should have just bought the entire crop. Would $43M cover it?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Sudaca on September 25, 2001 at 09:34:23 PT
no doubt about it
this just goes to prove there's nothing moral about US policy either. I mean, to applaud a repressive govenrment for its handling of one cause , turning a blind eye to all the rest of the package.. it was all for the good of humanity back then right? Now it turns out the Taliban movement will be wiped out for harboring terrorists , not that it was a problem before.This is hard to understand. And on top of everything ther's going to be some heavy duty smuggling of opium in the middle of the panic. I wonder who's going to be the buyer.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo MD on September 25, 2001 at 07:59:06 PT:
Malleable Morality
Doesn't this just prove that morality is subject to interpretation? Prohibition law merely follows the morality of the moment.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment