Taliban Negotiations Could Offer Protection for Drug Gangs
The endless violence and drug dependency inherent in the operations of the Taliban may be the very things that bring the organization to its knees. According to a Strategy Page report, many older leaders within the Taliban who are now operating in Pakistani exile and are said to be tired of the violence and the increasing dependence on heroin and al Qaeda to keep the Taliban in operation.
While the Taliban has long been fragmented, an increasing number of powerful leaders are heavily dependent upon drug money and commanders are tolerating drug use by their gunmen. This use puts the troops in a fighting mood or takes the edge of in tight times. In the end, it is offending old-school Pushtun tribal chiefs and Taliban leaders.
The Taliban traditionally avoid combat and cause most foreign troop casualties with mines and roadside bombs. Their strategy is not to defeat the foreign troops, but to survive until the opposition tires of the fight and leaves. Since the organization cannot defend territory, it instead seeks to maintain control through terror. Whenever possible, this control will be maintained with bribes – often to drug gangs.
The challenge in government’s trying to negotiate deals with Taliban factions is that it will inevitably provide some protection to drug gangs. The heroin and opium productions in Afghanistan are not likely to go away anytime soon and instead are growing problems.
To try to be effective in such an environment, American officers are being trained to deal with the corrupt atmosphere in Afghanistan. Such forces are putting more emphasis on intelligence and targeting key people. The key challenge is in trying to negotiate a win/win situation for all that doesn’t leave a “win” available for the drug gangs.