Sangin: Why is a collection of sunbaked, mud-walled hamlets on the River Helmand so important?

To the outside observer, there is little about the shabby town of Sangin to distinguish it from anywhere else in Afghanistan, let alone mark it out as one of the country’s most notorious killing fields.

A collection of sunbaked, mud-walled hamlets on the River Helmand, its only legitimate industry is the strips of irrigated corn and pomegranate farms that line an otherwise barren valley.

Yet those same lush pastures also provide the poppies for Sangin’s regular opium bazaar, which have made local drug barons and their Taliban allies the heroin trade’s answer to Colombia’s cocaine cartels.


Oh Great so the west is now fighting to ensure the Afghan government keeps its heroin crop.

  • Drunk_by_Noon

    100% opium.
    That’s all Sangin does; it’s what most of Helmand does.
    The Taliban sells the opium in Pakistan and uses the money to buy weapons and pay bribes to Afghan officials.
    The Afghans (government and people) are irredeemably corrupt and deserve nothing.

    • We should not be there.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        Well… not necessarily that either.
        That is the Taliban’s main source of income, so if we are going to leave, we need to drown the area in agent orange so nothing will ever grow there again.
        We also need to kill all of the opium farmers and level their homes to the point where their extended family’s and tribes are literally dispossessed of every earthly possession. That keeps them from setting up shop somewhere else.
        Then we can leave and be sure that ISIS or al Qaeda or something worse does not replace them.
        In short, you will need to kill everyone involved in the trade from growers, to transporters, to wholesale buyers.
        That will be about 3/4 of the population in Helmand.

        • Exile1981

          nuke the site from orbit… it’s the only way to be sure.

        • Jaedo Drax

          If only there was some company that could make a crop that would bloom once, and then never bloom again.

  • tom_billesley

    The cover story is that it’s important for maintaining control of the hydroelectric power station at Kajaki Dam and transmission lines. The politicians wanted a “let there be light” moment to win over the Afghans. Some hope.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Agent Orange or whatever the non GMO gluten free 100% organic analog of that today is