Small Wars Journal

Asia Months of U.S. Strikes Have Failed to Curtail Taliban Opium Trade

Asia Months of U.S. Strikes Have Failed to Curtail Taliban Opium Trade by Dion Nissenbaum – Wall Street Journal

American efforts to cripple the Taliban drug trade in Afghanistan have fallen short of expectations, U.S. officials say, creating new challenges for the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken the insurgency as the warring parties try to jump start peace talks.

Nine months of targeted airstrikes on opium production sites across Afghanistan have failed to put a significant dent in the illegal drug trade that provides the Taliban with hundreds of millions of dollars, according to figures provided by the U.S. military.

“We’re not where we want to be with that, but we’re generally moving in the right direction,” said Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the war strategy in Afghanistan.

The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan launched the new campaign against the Taliban’s drug-running operations last November as part of President Trump’s strategy for ending the 17-year-old war.

But the initiative hasn’t had the impact military officials had hoped. So far, the air campaign has wiped out about $46 million in Taliban revenue, less than a quarter of the money the U.S. estimates the insurgents get from the illegal drug trade. U.S. military officials estimate the drug trade provides the Taliban with 60% of its revenue…

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