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Taliban seizure of power in Afghanistan to entail emergence of ‘drug state’ — expert

French political analyst Olivier Roy pointed out that civil wars would not stop under the Taliban and it would not be able to satisfy people’s needs

PARIS, August 13. /TASS/. If the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) seize power in Afghanistan the country runs the risk of turning into a "drug state." It will also be a culture shock for Afghans who have got used to a more secular lifestyle, French political analyst specializing in the Middle East studies Olivier Roy said on Friday.

"Whereas government forces are surrendering their positions practically without putting up fights, the Taliban is already striking deals with local authorities," he said in an interview with the France Inter radio station. "What are we going to see? They will come to Kabul, the army will try to resist, although, I don’t think there will be any resistance. Everything points that Kabul is to fall."

"The Taliban already was at power 25 years ago. They established the sharia laws, bound women to wear burqas, banned schools for girls," he noted. "But the country has visibly changed since then, especially Kabul. This city with a million inhabitants has been influence by the West and now has a wide internet access than 20 years ago. So, it will be a culture shock: whereas people in rural areas largely share the Taliban values, residents of the capital city will be faced with a new world."

According to the expert, the Taliban movement has changed little. And although its leaders say that the change of power in Afghanistan will not be an international problem, they demand they be given a free hand in exchange. "They will need expert executive in the future. They (the Taliban - TASS) are wise enough to keep the existing machine of government in place to rule the country. But I doubt their long-term perspectives," Roy said, adding that civil wars will not stop under the Taliban but it won’t be able to satisfy people’s needs.

He also noted that one of the major problems in that country was illegal drug trafficking. "They (the Taliban - TASS) are not going to ban opium production. So, we may witness the emergence of a ‘drug state’ or transference of rural areas to the control of drug dealers," he said.

Drug production in Afghanistan has been expanding since the 1980s and in 1999 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution stating a dramatic growth in drug production on Taliban-controlled territories. According to the UN data, around 3,600 tonnes of opium, or 85% of the global output, originated from Afghanistan in 2020.

US Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price said earlier that the United States was convinced that if the Taliban seizes control of Afghanistan, other countries would not recognize it. Meanwhile, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace noted that in case the Al Qaeda terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) strengthens its positions in Afghanistan amid the Taliban expansion, the West might be back in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the United States said it was reducing the staff of its embassy in Kabul. It is expected that around 3,000 US servicemen would be temporarily deployed to Kabul in the next two days yo ensure security during the evacuation of US embassy employees.

US President Joe Biden said on April 14 he had decided to finish the operation in Afghanistan, the longest foreign military campaign in US history, and pull out American troops by September 11.

The US operation in Afghanistan has been ongoing since October 2001. At its peak in 2010-2013, the number of foreign troops in the country exceeded 150,000 soldiers. The main operational forces of the US and NATO were withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014.

Since April, the security situation in Afghanistan has seriously degraded, with the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) expanding its offensive. According to different open sources and Taliban statements, the radicals have established control over from 60 to 85% of the country’s territory, including areas along the borders with Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.