Farmers in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province are increasingly critical of US efforts over the past week to carry out airstrikes against “opium labs” they claim belong to the Taliban, saying that they are just repeating an already failed strategy.
The locals note that the province is dependent on opium farming because its the only viable economic course for them, with no other jobs. Repeated US efforts to bomb poppy fields or destroy other infrastructure haven’t changed anything about that throughout 16+ years of war.
Local politicians have complained that strikes against the labs are endangering civilians in the populated areas too, meaning that not only are the US strikes not going to change opium being Helmand’s primary industry, they’re also threatening civilians for no real gain.
Experts have also dismissed these attacks on economic assets of the Taliban as “whack-a-mole” tactics, which have consistently failed as the Taliban has remained an effective insurgency with substantial territory across Afghanistan throughout the war, and damage done to the economy primarily effects the locals, not the insurgents.
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