02:26 GMT +318 July 2019
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    An Afghan farmer works on a poppy field collecting the green bulbs swollen with raw opium, the main ingredient in heroin.

    US Spent $8 Billion on Fighting Afghan Drug Production and Failed Miserably

    Rahmat Gul
    Politics
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    Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan went through the roof after the 2001 US-led invasion despite $8 billion the United States spent on fighting drug production (if Washington ever sought to fight it).

    In the 14 years since the US and NATO forces entered Afghanistan illegal drug production in the country increased 50-fold. More land was allocated to opium poppy cultivation last year — over 220,000 hectares were used in the illegal business, which is also a record. There is no silver lining to the situation, which is getting worse by the minute.

    "The United States and NATO spent $7.8 billion to fight opium poppy cultivation and drug production in Afghanistan. Not only did the production fail to go down in recent years, on the contrary, it has increased. The money was wasted," General Khodaidad, the former Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics, told Sputnik.

    The US invasion of Afghanistan shattered the order of things providing drug traffickers, who had ties to global drug dealers, with an opportunity to produce as much as they can, Iranian political analyst Pir Mohammad Molazehi explained.

    According to the expert, fighting drug production was not a priority for the United States at that time.

    "The US seemed to have its own goals and links in the drug world that allowed them to control the increase in opium poppy cultivation and always remain in the black. According to some sources, Americans offered locals in some Afghani regions to use the drug revenues as they wished," Molazehi told Sputnik.

    Moreover, the US inaction in dealing with drug production in Afghanistan impacts people in neighboring countries, including some regions of Iran, the analyst added.

    Not a single country can solve the issue on its own due to the sheer scale of the problem but there is a chance to deal with it through joint efforts. General Khodaidad named the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a group that could be up for the challenge.

    "It is important that Afghanistan wants to take part in the SCO summit in the Russian city of Ufa. I am convinced that this is a prime opportunity to engage in a constructive and efficient dialogue with Afghanistan's neighbors in a variety of areas, including economy, fighting terrorism and drug trafficking," General Khodaidad noted.

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    Tags:
    opium poppy, drug production, drug trafficking, Afghanistan, United States
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