Afghanistan's Narcotics: Drugs Fund war

The global narcotics trade is central to the ‘war against terrorism’ and military operations against Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda organisation. It funds all sides in the Afghan civil war, as well as a substantial proportion of Al Qaeda’s operations. A powerful and flexible network of traffickers, traders, producers and processors operates across factional, ethnic and national borders with virtual impunity. This will outlast Bin Laden and the Taliban and play a key role in shaping the post-intervention order. Meanwhile, the impact on the streets of Europe and the global drugs market will be minimal.

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 December 2001 3 minute READ

Mark Galeotti

Director of the Organised Russian & Eurasian Crime Research Unity, Keele University

Afghanistan is one of the key sources of the world’s opiates – the basis for heroin. Production doubled through the 1990s thanks to a malign combination of poverty and lawlessness, suitable local climate, a central location and, above all, local figures and factions that eagerly embraced its economic opportunities. By the turn of the millennium, Afghanistan had become the source of three quarters of the world’s opiates.

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