Tag Archives: opium

War on drugs ‘should be abandoned’

War on drugs ‘should be abandoned’

Damien McElroy

A study by the International Institute of Strategic Studies found that the global war on narcotics had failed to contain the scourge of illegal stimulants.

The drugs trade has spread to Africa and Eastern Europe in recent decades and entrenched its standing in its traditional strongholds of Asia and the Americas.

Nigel Inkster, the former assistant chief of MI6 and author of the study, said there was a growing revolt against the cost of the fight in developing countries.

Only “vested interests” in countries where illegal drugs are consumed stood in the way of a change in approach, he said.

Research indicated that the authorities would need to stop 70 per cent of all drugs shipments to disrupt the trade. While no figures for the proportion of the trade stopped are available, the figure is almost certainly far below that threshold.

Therefore ramping up the security services fight against drugs is almost certainly doomed to failure.

“As any doctor is told on his first day, you should not just double the dose,” said Mr Inkster, who is the most senior figure to have worked within the fight against narcotics to openly call for a review. “If your initial diagnosis doesn’t work don’t just double the dose.”

The corrosive effects on security of the narco-economy also weighs as an argument for ending the war. “You can’t do counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics simultaneously,” he said. “Our investigation has shown us that the so-called war on drugs fundamentally undermines international security.”

The report, Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States, highlights two alternative systems. Either decriminalisation of all personal possession, as Portugal instituted a decade ago, or a licensing scheme such as that which brought the gin trade under control in London in the 1700s.

Licensing would also allow states to begin to apply the lessons of antismoking campaigns which have curtailed tobacco use.

Taxation, public health messages and social legislation could marginalise drug use.

SOURCE

UN to launch new anti-drug programs in Afghanistan, Central Asia

26/4/2011 1:04

The United Nations plans to launch several programs aimed at fighting drug trafficking in Afghanistan and neighboring states by the end of 2011, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Monday.

“Central Asian states, including Kyrgyzstan, remain a large trafficking hub for Afghan drugs,” Yury Fedotov told journalists during a visit to the he

adquarters of the newly established State Drug Control Service in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.

“We are planning to launch new regional anti-drug programs in Afghanistan and neighboring countries by the end of the year,” he said.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted as Kyrgyzstan’s president during a popular uprising in April 2010, dissolved the country’s Drug Control Agency in October 2009, handing over its functions to the interior and health ministries.

The new Kyrgyz authorities made a decision to restore the anti-drug watchdog after Bakiyev’s ouster. The United Nations is planning to spend more than $3 million to support the agency, Fedotov said.

Afghan drug production increased dramatically after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001, and Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with heroin consumption rising steeply.

About 90 percent of heroin consumed in Russia is smuggled from Afghanistan via former Soviet republics, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Around 30,000 Russians die from heroin abuse every year.

Russia has criticized the U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan for not doing enough to curb drug trafficking, particularly for refusing to destroy opium poppy fields. Opium production is a major source of income for Afghanistan’s impoverished rural population, as well as for Taliban militants.

BISHKEK, April 25 (RIA Novosti)

http://en.rian.ru/world/20110425/163688905.html

Interesting article. Unfortunatelbring int he drugs.

www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub804.pdf

www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/of-interest-17.pdf

www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub818.pdf

www.sais-jhu.edu/academics/regional-studies/…/KAUFMANFinal.pdf

OPIUM AND AFGHANISTAN: REASSESSING U.s. COUNTERNARCOTICS STRATEGY

Opium is grown legally is some countries for medical purposes, but huge demand
in the illicit market, coupled with saturation of the licit market, is driving Afghanistan
to supply illegal opium. In 2004, approximately 523 tons of morphine were produced
worldwide from opium for medical purposes.12 Opium is also refined for use in legal
prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin.13 However, Australia and France
currently produce about half the world’s opium used for medical purposes, with India,
Turkey, Spain, and Hungary producing a majority of the rest, leaving little flexibility for
Afghanistan to enter this market. Despite its legitimate uses, most of the world’s opium
is illegally grown and processed in countries with limited governmental control. Hence,
virtually none of Afghanistan’s opium poppy harvest is used for licit opiates. Instead,
almost all of it ends up on the international market as heroin.

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Heroin addiction is a global problem, and worldwide demand for heroin is increasingly
being met by Afghanistan’s farmers and drug traffickers. Heroin is a highly addictive drug,
and prolonged use can result in a variety of social and health-related problems. Sharing
of contaminated heroin needles is a major contributor to the spread of HIV/AIDS and
other infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C. According to the U.N. World Drug Report,
there are approximately 16 million illicit opiate users worldwide, including 11 million
heroin users. The primary opiate-using countries in the world include India (3 million
users), Russia and Eastern Europe (2.3 million), China (1.7 million), Western Europe (1.6
million), Iran (1.2 million), the United States (1.2 million), and Pakistan (0.7 million).14
Afghanistan has approximately 150,000 opium and 50,000 heroin users, but consumes
just 3.3 percent of its own harvest.15 Afghanistan is the source of nearly 90 percent of
heroin in Europe and Russia,16 while approximately 14 percent of heroin in the United
States comes from Afghanistan, up from 7 percent in 2001.17 According to the UNODC, as
many as 100,000 people die annually directly or indirectly from abuse of Afghan heroin.18
Furthermore, the UNODC predicts that increasing opium production in Afghanistan will
result in an increase in heroin overdoses worldwide because greater supply traditionally
leads to a higher level of heroin purity on the international market.19


AFGHANISTAN’S OPIUM ECONOMY
Cultivation and production of opium have significantly increased in Afghanistan
since 2001. Afghan farmers have grown opium poppy for generations; however, not until
the 1970s did they grow it in significant amounts for export. With the exception of 2001,
when the Taliban strictly enforced a moratorium on poppy cultivation with such harsh
tactics as beheadings, opium poppy cultivation has been steadily increasing for over the
past 2 decades as is shown in Figure 2.20 Today, poppy cultivation and opium production
are at all-time highs. According to the UNODC, opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan
covered an estimated 165,000 hectares during the 2005-06 growing season, a 59 percent
increase from the previous year. The UNODC also estimated that opium production in
2006 was 6,100 metric tons, up from 4,100 metric tons in 2005, which makes Afghanistan
by far the world’s largest producer.

Cultivating opium poppy makes powerful economic sense to the impoverished
farmers of Afghanistan. It is the easiest crop to grow and the most profitable. Even though
the Karzai government made opium poppy cultivation and trafficking illegal in 2002,
many farmers, driven by poverty, continue to cultivate opium poppy to provide for their
families. Indeed, poverty is the primary reason given by Afghan farmers for choosing to
cultivate opium poppy.22 With a farm gate price of approximately $125 per kilogram for
dry opium,23 an Afghan farmer can make 17 times more profit growing opium poppy—
$4,622 per hectare, compared to only $266 per hectare for wheat.24 Opium poppy is
also drought resistant, easy to transport and store, and, unlike many crops, requires no
refrigeration and does not spoil. With Afghanistan’s limited irrigation, electricity, roads,
and other infrastructure, growing traditional crops can be extremely difficult. In many
cases, farmers are simply unable to support their families growing traditional crops; and
because most rural farmers are uneducated and illiterate, they have few economically
viable alternatives to growing opium poppy.

Afghanistan’s economy has thus evolved to the point where it is now highly
dependent on opium. Although less than 4 percent of arable land in Afghanistan was
used for opium poppy cultivation in 2006, revenue from the harvest brought in over
$3 billion—more than 35 percent of the country’s total gross national product (GNP).25
According to Antonio Costa, “Opium poppy cultivation, processing, and transport have
become Afghanistan’s top employers, its main source of capital, and the principal base of
its economy.”26 Today, a record 2.9 million Afghanis from 28 of 34 provinces are involved
in opium cultivation in some way, which represents nearly 10 percent of the population.27
Although Afghanistan’s overall economy is being boosted by opium profits, less than 20
percent of the $3 billion in opium profits actually goes to impoverished farmers, while
more than 80 percent goes into the pockets of Afghan’s opium traffickers and kingpins
and their political connections.28 Even heftier profits are generated outside of Afghanistan
by international drug traffickers and dealers.

Traditionally, processing of Afghan’s opium into heroin has taken place outside of
Afghanistan; however, in an effort to reap more profits internally, Afghan drug kingpins
have stepped up heroin processing within their borders. Heroin processing labs have
proliferated in Afghanistan since the late 1990s, particularly in the unstable southern
region, further complicating stabilization efforts. With the reemergence of the Taliban and
the virtual absence of the rule of law in the countryside, opium production and heroin
processing have dramatically increased, especially in the southern province of Helmand.
In 2006, opium production in the province increased over 162 percent and now accounts
for 42 percent of Afghan’s total opium output.29 According to the UNODC, the opium
situation in the southern provinces is “out of control.”30
PROBLEMS WITH AFGHANISTAN’S OPIUM ECONOMY
While revenues from the opium trade are stimulating the economy, there are significant
negative consequences. Two major problems associated with the opium economy are
widespread corruption, which is eroding the rule of law; and the link between the opium
trade and the recoupment of the Taliban and the insurgency.
Corruption and the Erosion of the Rule of Law.
Corruption associated with the opium economy has spread to all levels of the Afghan
government from the police to the parliament, and is eroding the rule of law. Farmers
routinely bribe police and counternarcotics eradication personnel to turn a blind eye. Law
enforcement personnel are also paid off by drug traffickers to ignore or, in some cases,
protect their movements. Afghan government officials are now believed to be involved
in at least 70 percent of opium trafficking, and experts estimate that at least 13 former
or present provincial governors are directly involved in the drug trade.31 Furthermore,
up to 25 percent of the 249 elected members of parliament are also suspected of being
involved in the drug trade.32 When referring to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior, Syed
Ikramuddin, Afghan’s Minister of Labor, said: “Except for the Minister of Interior himself,
all the lower people from the heads of department down are involved in supporting
drug smuggling.”33 For example, in a single raid, nine tons of opium were recovered
from the offices of the Governor of Afghan’s Helmand Province. While the governor
was eventually replaced, no punitive action was taken against him, and he moved on
to a high-level position in parliament. 34 This case is not unusual, with corrupt officials
routinely being simply reassigned rather than removed from office.
For many of Afghanistan’s warlords, the opium trade brings money and power.
Therefore, several of Afghanistan’s powerful warlords are also top drug-lords. In some
cases, these warlords are the same individuals who cooperated with the United States
in ousting the Taliban in 2001. In some provinces, the warlords are now promoting the
opium industry by bribing government officials and providing protection to farmers
and traffickers. In sum, political corruption is so widespread in Afghanistan that it is
undermining public institutions, eroding the rule of law, and creating widespread
unstability and volatility. President Karzai himself has complained that “drugs in
Afghanistan are threatening the very existence of the Afghan State.”35

http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub804.pdf