Source: High Times
The report found that there was one less poppy-free province this year—Jowzjan in the north. This brings the total number of poppy-free provinces down to 13 of the country’s 34 provinces. Helmand in the south remained the top poppy cultivating province, accounting for half the national yeild. It was followed by Badghis, Kandahar, Urozgan, Nangarhar and Farah. All of these provinces are facing active, often growing insurgencies.
The Taliban have now taken over nearly all of Helmand. And if Helmand were a country, it would be the one with the world’s highest opium production. So control of this province means more opium proceeds to fuel their insurgency elsewhere in the country. The Taliban now control territory populated by about 10 percent of the Afghan population—some 3 million people. The Afghan government controls only two-thirds of the populace. The remainder—about 6 million—are in areas where the Taliban and government are contending for control, with neither having a firm hand.
ISIS has meanwhile raised its black flags in areas of eastern Afghanistan, declaring itself “Islamic State Khorasan” (an ancient name for Afghanistan). ISIS seeks to seize Jalalabad, the capital of the opium-producing Nangarhar province, as the seat of government for its “Khorosan Province,” U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson told CNN.