Poppy cultivation plummeted with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but has since skyrocketed.
U.S. government officials are conducting a new kind of “surge.” The DEA has started dispatching agents to Afghanistan to target opium trafficking networks that are believed to be funding the Taliban insurgency, a change from the Bush-era policy of poppy crop destruction.
Los Angeles Times:
The U.S. government is deploying dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Afghanistan in a new kind of “surge,” targeting trafficking networks that officials say are increasingly fueling the Taliban insurgency and corrupting the Afghan government.
The move to dramatically expand a second front is seen as the latest acknowledgment in Washington that security in Afghanistan cannot be won with military force alone.
For much of its eight-year tenure, the Bush administration’s counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan were focused on destroying the vast fields of poppy that have long been the source of the world’s heroin. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Afghanistan’s contribution to the global heroin trade has risen to 93%, according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime.
But the Obama administration believes that the effort drove many farmers and influential tribesmen into supporting the Islamist insurgency. The Afghan government and some NATO allies in the country agree.