Taliban claims it caused US economic slowdown

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Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement has identified the root of the U.S. economic slowdown; its leader Mullah Mohammad Omar's ban on opium poppy cultivation.

"What economic analysts will not tell you is that opium... was the main instigator of the economic miracle that (former U.S. president Bill) Clinton achieved," said an article in the latest edition of the Taliban's official magazine. It said it was no coincidence the U.S. economy faltered as Omar banned poppy cultivation in Taliban-controlled areas in late 2000, sending prices soaring by reducing supply to the international drug trade after years of increasing output from Afghanistan.

Afghan production of opium -- refined into heroin, largely in other countries -- fell last year by 28 percent from the record 1999 production of 4,565 tons, three quarters of the world supply.

"It's known in select circles, spread over an extremely narrow area, that opium is more influential than oil in terms of its economic role in America in particular and the West as a whole," The Islamic Emirate magazine said. "It's not a boulder in the mountain of global finance, no, it's fully one-half of the entire mountain," it said, concluding that the Taliban had triumphed in its struggle with the United States by undermining its economy.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), June 15, 2001

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