Taliban insurgency

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Afghan forces attacking Taliban, in Helmand province.

After the war in Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban started an insurgency, which is known as the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban started to attack the forces of ISAF and NATO, in Afghanistan, and committed terrorist attacks. Al-Quaeda is lnked to these attacks. With this, the conflict in the region spread to Pakistan. The related conflict in Pakistan is known as War in North-West Pakistan today. In the conflict, the Taliban fight against the Afghan government and its allies.

Because Afghanistan has seen a number of conflicts and wars in recent decades, its economy has changed, and many people depend on growing cash crops, such as poppy seeds which are used to produce illegal drugs such as Opium, or Heroin. Many people do not think the problems are caused by the Taliban. Resolving the problem will therefore probably more effort than winning against the Taliban. It will also mean that there need to be changes in the economy, and the way in which the country is run.

Opium trade[change | change source]

Opium is the main source of income for the Taliban: Opium poppy field in Gostan valley, Nimruz Province, Afghanistan
Harvested poppy capsules.
Afghanistan opium poppy cultivation, 1994–2016 (hectares)

Currently, Afghanistan is one of the biggest producers of Opium. While opium also has its uses as a regular drug, it is mainly used as an illegal drug. In 2001, Afghanistan produced only 11% of the world's opium, today it produces over ninety percent.[1] In 2007, 93% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan.[2] This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion; opium farmers earn about a quarter of this amount, the rest goes to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers.[3] The drug trade accounts for half of Afghanistan's GDP.[4][5] Estimates made in 2006 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate that 52% of the nation's GDP, or $2.7 billion annually, is generated by the drug trade.[6]

Areas where the security situation is worse produce more Opium; areas that are more stable seem to produce less.[7] Many farmers in rural areas depend on selling poppy seeds. Opium is more profitable than wheat and destroying opium fields could possibly lead to discontent or unrest among the affected population.[8] Some 3.3 million Afghans are involved in producing opium.[9] For this reason, some people say that eradicating poppy crops is not a viable option. Some poppy eradication programs have, however, proven effective, especially in the north of Afghanistan. The opium poppy eradication program of Balkh Governor Ustad Atta Mohammad Noor between 2005 and 2007 successfully reduced poppy cultivation in Balkh Province from 7,200 hectares in 2005 to zero by 2007.[10]

The Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment 2013, issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, suggests that the Taliban has since 2008 been supporting farmers growing poppy, as a source of income for the insurgency.[11]

The Taliban are not seen as a cause of the problem[change | change source]

There have been wars and conflicts in Afghanistan for over thirty years. As a result, the country is among the poorest, and least developed countries in the world. It is also one of the most corrupt. Thirty-five percent of the poulation are unemployed, and more than half of the people live below the poverty line.[12]

Western aid group Oxfam published an opinion poll they conducted in Afghanistan, in 2010. According to this poll, 83 percent of the Afghan population does not consider the Taliban militants. Poverty, unemployment and government corruption are seen as the main causes of war in their country. When the U.S.-backed Afghan forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001, the level of violence increased. Nearly half of those surveyed said corruption and bad government were the main reasons for the ongoing war. Twelve percent said the Taliban insurgency was to blame.After the Taliban, the reason most people gave for the continued fighting was foreign interference, with twenty-five percent of respondents saying other countries were to blame.[13]

2006 Escalation[change | change source]

Since the start of 2006 Afghanistan has been facing a wave of attacks by improvised explosives and suicide bombers, particularly after NATO took command of the fight against insurgents in spring 2006.[14]

Afghan President Hamid Karzai publicly condemned the methods used by the western powers. In June 2006 he said:

And for two years I have systematically, consistently and on a daily basis warned the international community of what was developing in Afghanistan and of the need for a change of approach in this regard… The international community [must] reassess the manner in which this war against terror is conducted

Insurgents were also criticized for their conduct. According to Human Rights Watch, bombing and other attacks on Afghan civilians by the Taliban (and to a lesser extent Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin), are reported to have "sharply escalated in 2006" with "at least 669 Afghan civilians were killed in at least 350 armed attacks, most of which appear to have been intentionally launched at civilians or civilian objects."[15][16] 131 of insurgent attacks were suicide attacks which killed 212 civilians (732 wounded), 46 Afghan army and police members (101 wounded), and 12 foreign soldiers (63 wounded).[17]

The United Nations estimated that for the first half of 2011, the civilian deaths rose by 15% and reached 1462, which is the worst death toll since the beginning of the war and despite the surge of foreign troops.[18]

References[change | change source]

  1. David Greene (host, Morning Edition), Hayatullah Hayat (Governor of Helmand Province, Afghanistan), Tom Bowman (reporter), Dianne Feinstein (U.S. Senator, Chair of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control) (6 July 2016). "Afghan Governor Wants Government To Control Poppy Crop" (Radio broadcast). NPR. Event occurs at 0:10. Retrieved 6 July 2016. Afghanistan's poppy production… accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's heroin.
  2. UNITED NATIONS Office on Drugs and Crime (PDF). Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007. http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/AFG07_ExSum_web.pdf. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  3. UNODC (November 16, 2007). "Opium Amounts to Half of Afghanistan's GDP in 2007, Reports UNODC". Press release. http://www.unodc.org/india/afghanistan_gdp_report.html. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  4. Gretchen Peters "Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda", publ. Thomas Dunne Books (2009)
  5. "Exploring The Taliban's Complex, Shadowy Finances". Wbur.org. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  6. "msnbc.msn.com". Archived from the original on 27 June 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. "unodc.org". Archived from the original on 18 May 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  8. "Afghanistan: The Forgotten War". Now on PBS. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  9. Declan Walsh (August 30, 2007). "UN horrified by surge in opium trade in Helmand". London: Guardian. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  10. Mukhopadhyay, Dipali (August 2009). "Warlords As Bureaucrats: The Afghan Experience" (PDF). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  11. Rod Norland, "Production of Opium by Afghans Is Up Again" Archived October 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, New York Times April 15, 2013
  12. "Unemployment Rate". CIA. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  13. "Poll: Afghans See Poverty, Corruption As Main Causes Of War". Rferl.org. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  14. [1]
  15. "Human Rights News, Afghanistan: Civilians Bear Cost of Escalating Insurgent Attacks". Hrw.org. 16 April 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  16. The Consequences of Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan April 2007 Volume 19, No. 6(C)
  17. Afghanistan`s record of suicide attacks in 2006 Paktribune.com quoting "A well-calculated survey by Pajhwok Afghan News". Retrieved 1 February 2008
  18. "AFP: Afghan civilian deaths up 15%". Google.com. 14 July 2011. Archived from the original on 2 August 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)