Counter-Terrorism: Colombia and Afghanistan Cooperate

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August 8, 2006: A team of Colombian counternarcotics officials recently visited Afghanistan, to share their experiences in fighting illegal drugs. With its growing illegal drug trade, and drug lord militias, Afghanistan is often described as "another Colombia." While Afghanistan has been producing most of the world's heroin for the last decade, Colombia has been producing most of the world's cocaine for even longer.
While Colombia has not been able to shut down the cocaine business, it has found ways to keep the drug gangs from taking over the country. Colombia doesn't have anything like the Taliban, but it has something worse, leftist militias that have been trying to take over for decades. Like the Taliban, the leftist Colombian groups (the largest is FARC) became allies with the drug gangs, and worked together to keep the government weak. But in Colombia, the connection between the leftist gangs and the drug cartels, and the violence this caused, eventually turned the majority of Colombians against the leftists, and the much feared drug lords, and sparked a counterattack. But this has only happened in the last four years. So the Afghans want to know how to avoid decades of violence, before, eventually, everyone decides to go after the religious and drug warlords.
There are other differences between Colombia and Afghanistan. First, there's religion. This is not a factor in Colombia, but it's a major item in Afghanistan. Politics is an issue in both countries, but in Afghanistan, the conservatives to watch out for are the Islamic conservatives. Opposing them you have lots of leftists (including communists), as well as democrats.
Another major difference is the tribes. In Afghanistan, tribal affiliation means a lot. In Colombia, the only tribes are those some few Indians belong to in some remote areas. There are some class issues, between rural and urban people, not to mention economic class differences. But all these exist in Afghanistan as well.
The Colombians and Afghans did not report on details of their discussions, or any conclusions they might have arrived at.

 


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