Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

Not just coincidence: As ISIS flourished on Obama’s watch so will the Taliban on Biden’s

August 14, 2021

Correlation is not necessarily causation — but is a very strong indicator of a causal connection. What is not in doubt is that the obsession with trying to depose Assad in Syria led to some very strange terrorist bedfellows for the US, France, the UK and Turkey. Of course, the Russian insight that Assad was the least of many evils led to their support of equally vicious groups opposed to the barbarian allies that the West supported.

Barack Obama was President from 2009 till 2017. The timeline of the ISIS virulence is entirely contemporary. Allowing ISIS to grow was certainly not intentional but it was a foreseeable consequence which unfolded due to indecision and default. The ISIS threat was not recognised very well during Obama’s first term. Since they were opposed to Assad, they were considered good guys. Their growth was encouraged and fuelled by the funnelling of funds and weapons, not only from the the US and the West but also from fundamentalist sources in Saudi Arabia. The tacit Russian support for Assad developed into major air strikes against ISIS in Syria in late 2015.  That crucially turned the tide, both for Assad and against ISIS. Now the US followed the Russian lead. By the end of 2019, ISIS no longer controlled any geographical territory and was no longer a significant threat as a geopolitical force. Of course, it still remains, even today, as a fundamentalist group capable of sporadic terrorist actions.

Wilson Center: ISIS Timeline

The Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh – emerged from the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a local offshoot of al Qaeda founded by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in 2004. It faded into obscurity for several years after the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq in 2007. But it began to reemerge in 2011. Over the next few years, it took advantage of growing instability in Iraq and Syria to carry out attacks and bolster its ranks.

The group changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013. ISIS launched an offensive on Mosul and Tikrit in June 2014. On June 29, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi announced the formation of a caliphate stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala in Iraq, and renamed the group the Islamic State. ….. The Baghdadi era of ISIS ended on October 26, 2019, when the leader was killed in a U.S. raid in northern Syria. 

The rise and spread of ISIS was to a large extent due to the West’s obsession with effecting regime change in Syria by any means and whatever cost. Even when the time came to deal with the ISIS monster that had been allowed to grow (around 2015-16), the Obama risk-aversion and indecisiveness continued until the US began to follow the lead of the Russian intervention.

Not just coincidence I think.

And now Biden, it would seem, is by cowardice and by default, allowing the space for a new monster Taliban to take over Afghanistan and then spread its tentacles. Kabul is surrounded. The evacuations from Kabul bring images of the evacuation of Saigon to mind. And Biden is washing his hands off the whole thing. “They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation”. And a new debacle beckons.

Not just coincidence. 

It is not a coincidence either that the Taliban, like ISIS, are based on a hard-line, Sunni, ideological strain of virulence emanating from Saudi Arabia.


Afghan opium harvest reaches record high and Western troops prepare to withdraw – after a job well done?

November 13, 2013

This Afghan war started on 7th October 2001. Ostensibly the US, NATO and Western allies invaded to dismantle the Al Qaida infrastructure, remove the Taliban from power and to eradicate their support base by winning hearts and minds.

Twelve years on, about 10,000 Afghan security forces and about 5,000 allied forces (including contractors) have been killed. The numbers of Taliban and other Islamic fighters killed is believed to be many more than the 15,000 allied losses – perhaps as many as 30,000. Around 18,000 civilians have also lost their lives. The Taliban are still around and apparently gaining strength. I am not sure whether the intention was to destroy the drug trade or whether it was secretly to secure drug supplies. In any event the opium harvest has never been as high before.

History will have to tell us if this was a job well done or something else.

Reuters: Afghan opium crop hits record high ahead of Western withdrawal

Afghan opium cultivation has hit a record high as international forces prepare to leave the country, the United Nations said on Wednesday, with concern that profits will go to warlords jockeying for power ahead of a presidential election next year. The expansion of poppy to 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres), will embarrass Afghanistan’s aid donors after more than 10 years of efforts to wean farmers off the crop, fight corruption and cut links between drugs and the Taliban insurgency. …..

The area under poppy is 36 percent higher than in 2012, and eclipses the previous record set in 2007, when 193,000 hectares (477,000 acres) were cultivated, the U.N. anti-drugs agency said in a report. Total output is estimated at 5,500 tonnes of opium, up 49 percent from 3,700 tonnes in 2012. Farm-gate profits are expected to approach $1 billion, or 4 percent of gross domestic product. Some of those profits will be funneled off by the Taliban to fuel their insurgency. …… 

A kg of opium costs some $200 at the farm-gate. This produces about 100 g of pure heroin. The street price of heroin is about $170 per gram (2012 prices) for typically 40% pure heroin (75% is considered high). The $200 dollars for the 1 kg of opium is thus marked-up to about $40,000 as street-heroin. If the profits at the farm-gates are $1 billion, it can be expected that the profits on the streets from the processed drugs must be of the order of 50 – 100 times greater.

A steady profit stream of $50 – 100 billion per year clearly will – and does –  cause many to salivate.

The Spoils of War:

Each kg. of opium produces 100 grams of pure heroin. The US retail prices for heroin (with a low level of purity) is, according to UNODC of the order of $172 a gram. The price per gram of pure heroin is substantially higher.

The profits are largely reaped at the level of the international wholesale and retail markets of heroin as well as in the process of money laundering in Western banking institutions. 

The revenues derived from the global trade in heroin constitute a multibillion dollar bonanza for financial institutions and organized crime.


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