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How Can We Save Ourselves From the Afghans? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Despite the harshness of the questioned posed in the title, it is one worth asking. The Afghans – and I mean those involved in producing narcotics – are primarily responsible for the most dangerous types of drugs that can be found on our streets, and one streets around the world. We do not want to make generalizations and hold the entire Afghan nation accountable for the actions of the opium producing and smugglings gangs, because this [guilt by association] is something that we already suffer from, with the entire world pointing the finger at us any time there is a car or airplane explosion. The categorical problem is that drugs are being smuggled from Afghanistan, and these drugs are responsible for the destruction of our youth. The money used to purchase these drugs is then used to finance terrorism, thereby destroying another section of our youth. This duality means that we are facing a moral, security, and health problem.

These narcotics are being smuggled into our society in an organized manner by gangs, behind whom are even larger more organized gangs, behind whom are governments that have their own political agenda. These narcotic crops are gathered in Afghanistan from well-guarded areas and are then smuggled across the border through countries that provide [the drug smugglers] with protection and facilitate the drugs gaining access to the consumer market, most often in the Gulf region.

As for the question of my apprehension, this is due to the fact that this is more than just illegal trade and organized political activity; the reason [for my apprehension] is its links to financing terrorism, and also because terrorists exploit these drug networks in their operations on the ground. The relationship between opium and terrorism has become even clearer over the past few years, and there is evidence that organizations affiliated to regional countries are involved in drug smuggling. In a prison in one Arab country, there is a large group of approximately one hundred inmates of the same nationality, the majority of whom have been issued with death sentences for drug smuggling. Evidence shows that these prisoners are nothing more than soldiers in an organized operation which relies upon the duality of opium production and financing terrorism.

But what has Afghanistan got to do with all of this? Afghanistan is the central bank that finances all of these terrorist organizations, scheming governments, and supporting gangs. Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, and is the crop that heroin is made from. According to a UN anti-narcotic official, Afghanistan has stockpiles amounting to 10,000 tons of opium, which is equivalent to twice the global consumption. This stockpile was accumulated over the past three years, in addition to the new crops produced by the opium fields. Afghanistan must be convinced of the necessity of halting opium production in order to neutralize this threat, as the other option of pursuing the gangs and terrorist organizations that benefit from opium trafficking and distribution, is one that is unsuccessfully being pursued around the clock.

Previously, attempts were made to destroy these opium fields, but these were also unsuccessful, and farmers returned to opium cultivation as this was their only means to earn a livelihood. It was not long until a new project was put forward to encourage the Afghans to cultivate alternative crops. If it is true that Afghan farmers earn less than $500 million from opium production, it would not be too difficult for an equivalent amount of money to be collected from the countries that are harmed by opium production, as it is the entire population of the Middle East and Europe who are affected by this. These compensation payments can help not just to put an end to opium production in the country, but also help to develop Afghanistan’s agriculture. This will save us from the duality of narcotics and terrorism. The eradication of opium production in Afghanistan will cause Al Qaeda and the gangs to leave Afghanistan. This has been a dream since the Soviet Union first invaded Afghanistan, and the country was transformed into an international nightmare.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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