Iran and US Work Together to Trump Taliban and Drug Trafficking
Iran and the U.S. have a common goal in Afghanistan, but slightly different enemies. The U.S. wants to defeat Taliban forces while Iran is aiming to halt cross-border drug smuggling.
A recent JPost article shows that Taliban forces and Afghan drug lords are facing opposition from a number of sides as Iranian forces are massing along the border in the south and the large-scale allied offensive is closing in from the north.
“The message is clear,” said Antoni Maria Costa, executive director of the Untied Nation’s Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in the JPost. “In order to further reduce the biggest source of the world's deadliest drug, there must be better security, development and governance in Afghanistan.”
According to Prof. Sultan Barakat, Head of the Postwar Reconstruction and Development Unit at the University of York, the matter needed to be thought of within its international context.
“It must be recognized that both Iran and Pakistan have the potential to influence the trajectory of stabilization in Afghanistan significantly,” Barakat told The Media Line. “The economic interests of all neighboring countries, China included, need to be seriously considered and their incentives understood.”
He added that from these countries’ perspectives, military expansion of coalition forces could be seen as a direct threat – especially in the case of Iran in particular. The offensive this week by 15,000 U.S., British and Afghan government forces marks the largest ever assault against Taliban insurgents since the way began in 2001.
These forces are currently targeting the cities of Marjah and Nad Ali in the southern Helmand province. This is known to be a Taliban stronghold and a major drug producing area. One secondary goal of the offensive is to disrupt the large-scale opium trade that is estimated to make up 87 to 93 percent of the worldwide market and finance Taliban rule.