1. This just don’t pass the smell test. Detailed fieldwork with those harvesting, transporting & trading ephedra & with lab owners & workers shows this - like most businesses in Afghanistan is structured around independent entrepreneurs. foreignpolicy.com/2021/07/19/tal…
2. Ephedrine production is a cottage industry that has merged from the shift from the use of OTC to ephedra. Taxes on both ephedrine & meth are marginal @ a few $/kg, so too are profits @ <$30/kg. Taliban tax? Yes. Control? No. emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/p…
3. Our next report for @L4P_Afghanistan estimates & maps revenues from range of value chains, incl drugs industry (meth & opiates) & shows govt affiliates earn more from drugs than Taliban & Taliban earn 80% of revenue from cross border trade in legal goods.
4. Further empirical work on meth amongst those directly involved in production in Afghanistan’s rural areas can be found here blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2019…
6. Along with details of how this work evolved. Finished our 7th iteration of fieldwork that has involved travel from the central mountains in districts of Ghor & Ghazni to the processing areas of Bakwa and Khashrud. Insights from Kabul are often limited. alcis.org/post/afghan-me…

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More from @mansfieldintinc

14 Jul
1.Following from work for @ODI_Global @L4P_Afghanistan I’ve been looking at recent discussions of the Taliban capturing districts-but not taking cities, so far- & thinking that some don’t fully understand the strategic & financial significance of territorial control. A thread:
2. In April 2021, a fuel trader in Ziranj, Nimroz on the Afghan/Iranian border, referred to it as “the business city”. He talked of the relative calm compared to other parts of SW Afghanistan, how he had become wealthy, & built a good house there in the last 5 years.
3.Even before the Taliban’s territorial gains since 1 May those in Ziranj were conscious of the limits of the govts writ, extending only 21 km from the city gate & 8 km beyond the provincial airport.
The govts influence was considered even weaker in other districts of Nimroz.
Read 24 tweets
17 Jun
1. The next report with @AlcisGeo focuses on Nimroz for @L4P_Afghanistan It looks at the revenues made from a variety of “value chains” one of them the smuggling of people. The report provides granular analysis of the route out of Ziranj via Pakistan to Iran. ImageImageImageImage
2. The numbers are shocking: an economy of circa $ 270 million p.a. transporting people by pickup through the deserts of Nimroz & Baluchistan then over the mountains bordering Pakistan & Iran. In April there were around 200 pickups leaving Ziranj each day, circa 4400 people. ImageImageImage
3. However, the numbers of people leaving have been increasing as the security situation has worsened. Now there are over 300 picks up leaving Nimroz each day (6,600 people) and it is anticipated these numbers will increase further when the Iranian elections are done. ImageImageImage
Read 4 tweets
19 May
1. I am following up on a thread I posted a few weeks ago about Taliban revenues & the prevalence of bad data based on hearsay & not talking directly to those that pay taxes in the Afghan countryside.
2. I’ve spent the last few months working with long term partners @osdr @alcis looking at the cross border value chains of fuel, transit & minerals.
3. It’s been a slog involving indepth fieldwork & detailed imagery analysis. It builds on past efforts with the same partners & @areu in Nangarhar and Nimroz, involving hundreds of interviews with traders, truckers & those living in key chokepoints for each value chain.
Read 22 tweets
27 Jan
1. Been troubled by estimates of Taliban revenues for sometime. Current estimates way in excess of what is economically feasible given potential value added from key commodities produced/traded in Afghanistan & “the high cost of doing business” in FCAS.
2. When drawing on empirical data from value chains it is impossible to see how claimed revenues of $1-1.6 billion are calculated rferl.org/amp/exclusive-… bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world…
3. Eg there are repeated claims from scholars, officials & the media of the Taliban earning up to $400 million p.a. from opiates committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc…
Read 20 tweets
2 Jan
1. Forgive the thread, but amidst the latest revelations on meth use & production in Afghanistan it is worth considering the economic impact of this growing industry on some of the most marginal desert and mountainous areas in #Afghanistan
2. We have only scratched the surface in our work on meth in Afghanistan, researching only a few districts where ephedra is grown, & ephedrine & meth are processed. Our work shows a growing economy affecting a wide area, with an output that matches opium. emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/p…
3. This latest work with @AlcisGeo focused on ephedrine & meth production through indepth interviews with 'cooks' & analysis of high resolution imagery. Funded by @EMCDDA & covered by @BBCNews & @AJEnglish. it points to a possible 329 ephedrine labs in the district of Bakwa alone
Read 18 tweets

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