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Poppies as a weapon in Afghanistan

Friday, June 03, 2011 - 02:26

June 2 - As Afghanistan's poppy crop fuels the insurgency a global commission declares the war on drugs a failure. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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The poppy fields of Afghanistan. Its fields require one-sixth of the irrigation needed by a similar-sized area of wheat, and its harvests do not need to be transported or an export market found and established. But for foreign forces serving in Afghanistan those fields are a weapon. Brigadier General Josef Blotz in Kabul was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Josef Blotz, saying (English): "Drugs is a weapon if you wish, Money is a weapon anyway, but drugs are a weapons because it facilitates things like the insurgency." Taliban-led militants are believed to derive up to $400 million a year from the crop. SOUNDBITE: Brigadier General Josef Blotz, saying (English): "It ties into things like corruption , it ties into thins like the lack of security and the finding basis for the insurgency so it is a nexuses that needs to be attacked and solved by a complex strategy -- the counterinsurgency strategy. So, we do a lot in combatting drug trafficking." That part of the counterinsurgency strategy encourages farmers to find other crops. But a UN representative in Afghanistan from the Office of and Drugs and Crime recently told reuters that reliance on poppy will be hard to break without proper anti-drugs legislation and improved security. Although Washington and its allies have backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's peace plan, which includes negotiations with the Taliban, there is still little idea how that plan will work, especially without lasting solutions to the poppy problem. On Thursday the Global Commission on Drug policy declared the war on drugs a failure urging nations to consider legalizing cannabis and other drugs. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.

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Poppies as a weapon in Afghanistan

Friday, June 03, 2011 - 02:26