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Opium Production Funds Terrorism in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Ministry Reminds Trump, NATO

Aug. 21, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department called attention in an Aug. 18 "Comment on the Drug Situation in Afghanistan," to the recent recommendation by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, that the U.S. develop a U.S. anti-drug strategy for Afghanistan. Sopko’s recommendation is relevant, the Foreign Ministry noted, given that "drug production in Afghanistan is breaking records."

President Trump is announcing a "new" strategy for Afghanistan in a televised address Monday night.

The statement elaborated this worsening reality:

"According to expert estimates, a sharp increase in drug production is expected in 2017. The areas under drug crops in Afghanistan have already exceeded last year’s figures, and about a third of the country’s population is involved in the cultivation of opium poppy.

"The volume of Afghan drug trafficking is not decreasing, while its geography has expanded, in particular, to African countries. The so-called Balkan route (Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Europe) has been intensified. A growing number of narcotic substances from Afghanistan are supplied to Europe via Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine.

"At the same time, tons of precursors for the manufacture of narcotic substances are illegally imported to Afghanistan each year. Moreover, according to information from Afghan sources, such countries as Italy, France and the Netherlands are among the main suppliers.

"In this context, the U.S. and NATO forces unwillingness or inability, despite their many years of presence in Afghanistan, to provide effective assistance to the Afghan Government in curbing drug production, which is known to be a key source of terrorism financing, causes bewilderment. According to UN estimates, the drug economy accounts for about half of the revenues of illegal armed groups in Afghanistan, estimated at $400 million,"

the statement notes.