Archive for the 'Financing the Taliban' Category



Agricultural Development Teams and Poppy in Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 4 months ago

Bouhammer gives serious thought to the issue of poppy cultivation, funding of the Taliban, and alternatives for the Afghan farmers.

The main points of my argument in dealing with the drugs is not to go after the farmers, who are just trying to make a living and provide for their family. They will grow whatever they can that brings in the most money, and unfortunately that is poppy and always has been. If Coalition forces go into a farmer’s property and wipe out his crops, then it will just piss off the farmer and turn him to the enemy. There are also other farmers waiting for the chance to replace the farmer who was just taken out by the poppy eradication. So going after the farmer is not the silver bullet answer. However deploying ADT teams and using them to empower the farmer and show him alternative crops is part of the answer.

The real answer and focus in my opinion is to go after the middle-man, the buyer, the guy who pays the farmer, puts the poppies into a jingle-truck and moves them to a opium factory which turns the poppy into black-tar heroin. If we take out the man with the cash and he doesn’t show up anymore to buy the poppies from the farmer then the farmer will not be as motivated to grow it anymore. He will be m ore apt to switch to other positive crops. The middle-man (the drug trafficker)  is also the one who is moving the heroin by the tons across the borders of Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and other bordering countries. This movement by vehicle is what gets “taxed” by the Taliban and is where they make a lot of their money.

Since we can’t go into Pakistan, Iran and the other countries and take out the labs that are turning this drug into a human-usable product, then we must get them before they cross the border. We must also get the “most bang for our buck”, by using our resources (soldiers, technologies, etc.) to get the largest amounts of opium and heroin at one time. These large amounts are going to be the jingle trucks loaded with pure opium or black-tar heroin that are being moved to the border.

This is the main-stay of my argument. Don’t go after the poor farmer who is just trying to get a little scratch like everyone else in that country, go after the guys that are paying him. Go after the guys who are collecting it (opium) all up, go after the guys who are being taxed by the Taliban and is providing our enemies the funds to continue their fight.

We agree with Bouhammer concerning the issue of targeting a farmer who is merely trying to use a cash crop to provide for his family.  It’s a dumb notion that would only make more insurgents, as our arguments go in our category financing the Taliban.

Agricultural development teams are a good idea for building the infrastructure of Afghanistan and effecting fundamental change in the impoverishment that leads to so much recruitment of low level insurgents.  But there is something fundamentally flawed with this notion that funding the Taliban will be seriously affected with the advent of a different cash crop.

Remember that we have pointed out that the Tehrik-i-Taliban get their monies from wealthy Middle East sultans, timber trade, gemstones, taxation of businesses, kidnapping, and so-called “protection money.”  The Afghan Taliban get much of their income from poppy / opium trade, but only because it’s the predominate cash crop.  What if the crop was different?

Consider again the example of Pomegranates.

“We’d like to see at the end of this year containers of fresh pomegranate leaving Afghanistan for supermarkets.

“There’s a lot of interest in pomegranates in the West because of its health benefits.

“Over the course of the next 10 years we would like to plant 45.9 million trees, which would cover an area slightly larger than the areas which are used for poppy production.”

Asked whether he had been in contact with the Taliban, Mr Brett said: “In the complexity of the tribal system in Afghanistan, the Taliban are in every element of society.

When I talked at the three tribal gatherings, the Taliban were present. I believe that if we don’t communicate with every faction of this problem, we’re not going to solve it.

Pomegranates solves the poppy problem if the project goes forward.  But take note that the purveyors of pomegranate aren’t attempting to solve the problem of Taliban funding.  Pomegranate won’t do that, and neither will any other cash crop.

Let’s do ADTs for the right reason: infrastructure development.  But don’t be deceived into believing that a different cash crop will solve the problem of the Taliban.  They must be targeted head-on.  There is no other solution.

Prior:

Financing the Taliban Part 2

Financing the Taliban

NATO and Poppy: The War Over Revenue Part 2

NATO and Poppy: The War Over Revenue

Financing the Taliban Part 2

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 7 months ago

In Financing the Taliban we addressed the issue of poppy, and why its eradication wouldn’t end the Taliban or the threat they pose to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the larger region.  In addition to poppy, Taliban support comes from taxation of various businesses as well as active participation in larger industrial-size operations.

ZIARAT, Pakistan — The Taliban’s takeover in April of the Ziarat marble quarry, a coveted national asset, is one of the boldest examples of how they have made Pakistan’s tribal areas far more than a base for training camps or a launchpad for sending fighters into Afghanistan.

A rare, unescorted visit to the region this month revealed how the Taliban are grabbing territory, using the income they exact to strengthen their hold and turn themselves into a self-sustaining fighting force. The quarry alone has brought tens of thousands of dollars, said Zaman, a tribal leader.

The seizure of the quarry is a measure of how, as the Pakistani military has pulled back under a series of peace deals, the Pakistani Taliban have extended their reach through more of the rugged 600-mile-long territory in northern Pakistan known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA.

The quarry here in the Mohmand tribal district, strategically situated between Peshawar and the Afghan border, is a new effort by the Taliban to harness the region’s abundant natural resources of coal, gold, copper and chromate.

Of all the minerals in the tribal areas, the marble from Ziarat is one of the most highly prized for use in expensive floors and walls in Pakistan, and in limited quantities abroad …

The Taliban decided that one mountain in the Ziarat area belonged to the Masaud division of the main Safi tribe, and said the Gurbaz subtribe would be rewarded another mountain, Zaman, the contractor, said.

The mountain assigned to the Masauds was divided into 30 portions, he said, and each of six area villages was assigned five of the 30 portions.

Zaman said the Taliban demanded $1,500 commission upfront for each portion, giving the insurgents a quick $45,000.

The Taliban also demanded a $7 tax on each truckload of marble, he said. With a constant flow of trucks, the Taliban were collecting up to $500 a day, Zaman said.

Taliban interest doesn’t stop with marble quarries though.  The recent deal with the Taliban in Swat has led to Taliban control over precious stone mines.

The Pakistani Taliban have taken control of mines producing precious lapis lazuli stones in the insurgency-hit Swat valley and started operating them on their own.

The Taliban have confirmed that they took control of the mines two months ago when they arrived in the hilly area of Fiza Ghat, a resort on the outskirts of Mingora, the main city in Swat valley.

The militants have appointed hundreds of local labourers to work round the clock to excavate lapis lazuli stones as authorities in the area had left the mines, BBC Urdu reported on Wednesday on its website.

One-third of the income from the mines is taken by the Taliban while the rest is offered to the labourers, a Taliban militant said. The Taliban have deployed senior commanders at several mines to monitor the excavation of stones.

The mines hold the promise of a significant source of income for the Taliban.

When fully operational, the mines yielded a quarter of a million carats of emeralds between 1978 and 1988. The last official estimate put the projected yield at about 13.2 million carats. Gemstone dealers say that most emeralds range from just under one carat to just over five. Prices range from $1,000 to more than $100,000 for a cut stone.

The problem is not pomegranate, marble, emeralds, or small businesses.  The problem is the Taliban, and until they are dealt with, the targeting of their sources of income will only end up harming our reputation among the very population whose cooperation we need to win the campaign.

Prior:

Financing the Taliban

NATO and Poppy: The War Over Revenue Part 2

NATO and Poppy: The War Over Revenue


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