The US knows that Iran is a major problem in the war on terror.

Yet during last week’s meeting between Bush and President Karzai of Afghanistan, they ended up agreeing to disagree on Iran.

On Sunday,(Karzai) told CNN, “So far, Iran has been a helper and a solution” in Afghanistan. “We have had very, very good, very, very close relations,” he said. The Bush administration has accused Iran of arming the Taliban, reports Karzai largely brushed aside before arriving at Camp David.

One reason for this is practical: The Sunni Al Qaeda (and Taliban) view Shiites (Iran’s major religion) as heretics, so Iran would prefer a secular government on it’s eastern border.

But the main reason is Baluchistan and heroin.

The War on Drugs is resulting in an unlikely cooperation between Iran, Afghanistan, and the US/NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Just a few days ago, the United States announced that 11,000 new coalition
troops would attack insurgents in the drug-ridden provinces in the south. Three straight years of bumper crops have flooded Iran and Western Europe with Afghan heroin, a trail now leading to the United States as well,

Much of this heroin is transported throught Iran’s Baluchistan province of Iran. You have a large separate ethnic state that follows a different form of Islam. The area is restive, and the government cannot fully control lawless elements. Add into this a lucrative drug trade, and voila, you have a problem.
In the US, drugs means Mexican and Colombian drug gangs. But in Europe, Russia, and Iran, it means heroin…and that heroin is grown in Afghanistan, and much of it is shipped via Iran.

One result of this is that one in 17 Iranians are addicted to heroin. And with heroin comes an epidemic of social problem and an epidemic of HIV, and an epidemic of crime and criminal gangs, especially along the borders.

Iran wants cooperation with Afghanistan to curb these gangs, and Afghanistan also wishes to stop the heroin trade that  is funding the Taliban  especially in the primitive Pushtun tribal area.

And only the US has the money to try to stop this cycle of violence.

Taking into account the way Afghan politics works, the U.S. is offering a new anti-drug strategy that would involve financial incentives to provincial governors who reduce drug activity. That would mean the drug lords would have to pay higher bribes as well.

In summary, the US goes against heroin growers while offering big bribes to tribal leaders, and while building up the infrastructure to support a non drug economy.

As a result, less heroin is grown, and the price of dealing heroin goes up, so the profit goes down. As a result, there is less money to fund the Taliban to pay their recruits.
And  Iran, by making heroin less available and more expensive, will have fewer addicts and less funding for criminal gangs in Baluchistan.

Politics makes strange bedfellows…and so does the war on drugs.

So the next time you read a libertarian blogger who opposes the US soldiers helping to destroy poppy fields, you now can tell them the rest of the story.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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