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Commentary: What the Afghanistan conflict means for global heroin trade

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Commentary: What the Afghanistan conflict means for global heroin trade




The long war in Afghanistan reached a potential watershed on Aug 6 when Taliban fighters took over Zaranj, a dusty frontier town with a population of some 63,000 on the Afghan-Iranian border. Though geographically and politically marginal, Zaranj was the first provincial centre to fall during a month of rapid advances.


In the preceding weeks, the Taliban’s advances had been largely confined to the countryside, taking control of more than half of the country’s 421 districts. But emboldened by these successes and the plummeting morale of the Afghan armed forces, the Taliban turned to major population centres.


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Since their breakthrough in Zaranj, they have taken over nearby Farah and seven other provincial capitals in the north.


The speed and success of this offensive has taken many by surprise, but the balance of power has shifted since the 2020 agreement between the US and the Taliban, which committed the US to withdraw its troops from the country.


This has been aided by Pakistani support for the Taliban, as well as the Afghan government’s release of 5,000 imprisoned Taliban fighters, a condition of the US-Taliban agreement. Subsequent peace talks, supported by international and regional powers, have failed to stem the recent violence or come up with a credible peace plan.


But while most commentary has focused on this ailing peace process and the military dimension, far less has been said about how economic factors are shaping unfolding events, including the trade in opium and heroin.

Topic starter Posted : 18/08/2021 9:57 am