Afghanistan Now a "Narco-State"

December 4, 2004

A United Nations report released on November 18 states that Afghanistan is on its way to becoming a "narco-state."

The report found that this year's cultivation of opium -- the raw material for heroin -- was up by nearly two-thirds, and accounted for 87 percent of world supply, up from 76 percent in 2003.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the heroin trade is booming. Opium is now the "main engine of economic growth and the strongest bond among previously quarrelsome peoples," according to the report. It valued the trade at $2.8 billion, or more than 60 percent of Afghanistan's 2003 gross domestic product.

"The fear that Afghanistan might degenerate into a narco-state is slowly becoming a reality," the report says. "Opium cultivation, which has spread like wildfire throughout the country, could ultimately incinerate everything: democracy, reconstruction and stability."

The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004 found cultivation rose 64 percent over 2003, with 323,701 acres dedicated to the poppies that produce opium. That set a double record, according to the report: "the highest drug cultivation in the country's history, and the largest in the world."

According to many diplomats, the U.S.-installed government of Hamid Karzai includes known drug lords and many provincial governors, police and army chiefs profit from the drug trade. In the northeastern Badakhshan province, commanders of the U.S-supported Northern Alliance continue to profit from the trade. Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is reportedly an influential drug dealer in the southern city of Kanhahar.

A recent report by the Center on International Cooperation at New York University also stated "U.S. cooperation with warlords and militia leaders tied to trafficking has sent the wrong signal about the U.S. commitment to combating narcotics."