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Geopolitics

Inside The Taliban's Laissez-Faire Policy On Drug Trafficking

Unlike ISIS-K (Islamic State Khorasan), drug cultivation and trafficking are not an ideological matter for the new rulers of Afghanistan — more likely a bargaining chip in negotiations with the West.

A woman in a blue burqa on the street with two small children

Begging for help on the road between Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul.

Adrien Vautier/Le Pictorium Agency via ZUMA
Jan Koehler and Jonathan Goodhand

In the frontier town of Zaranj on Afghanistan’s border with Iran, young men jostle one another as they cram into pickups that leave at regular intervals to be smuggled across the border. Human trafficking is one of the few sectors of the Afghan economy that is thriving. Another is drugs.

Some 950 kilometers to the east of Zaranj, on a remote and cold mountain pass, men with backpacks follow the narrow path to the border-crossing at Tabai, before beginning their descent into the “tribal areas” of Pakistan. Hidden in their loads are bags of heroin, bound for markets in Peshawar and Karachi, with much of it ending up on the streets of the UK.

The trade in drugs and people are growing in importance as other sectors of the economy contract or shut down and poverty deepens.

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Geopolitics

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axios Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran on June 11. Venezuela is one of Iran's closest allies, and both are subject to tough U.S. sanctions.

Julio Borges

-Analysis-

CARACAS —The dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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