Taliban, al Qaeda Helped by Warming

Already, drought has left young Afghan men "unemployed with nothing to do."

ByABC News
October 8, 2009, 7:28 PM

Oct. 9, 2009 — -- "The Taliban" and "global warming" may not seem to belong in the same sentence.

But a number of U.S. intelligence and military studies recently made public describe how man-made climate change plays into the hands of terrorist groups in many countries -- and specifically, aggravates the war in Afghanistan by giving a boost to the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies.

The studies detail a number of ways in which global warming is creating new headaches for the U.S. military around the world.

"National Security and the Threat of Climate Change," with essays by 11 U.S. generals and admirals, published by the CNA Corp., was supervised by the former chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan.

Like the other studies, it details how terrorist groups often are helped global warming's increasing droughts -- especially in poor countries.

"Probably, the poster child is Somalia," Sullivan told ABC News. "Famine created by drought [leaves many people] ripe for picking for terrorist groups."

"The Somalis who needed foodstuffs went to Kenya and Ethiopia," he said, "and the warlords stayed in Somalia."

Sullivan, like other military analysts, found similar patterns in many countries: "The headwaters of the Jordan are found up in the mountains of Northern Syria and Turkey, the Middle East, an already volatile area -- tinder boxes. Global climate change could be like striking a match around an open can of gasoline."

Sullivan and other authorities say drought has been aiding the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan for some time.

"[It's in] the conflict over water, crops," he said. "Afghanistan ... has an agricultural economy, but is not robust and a lack of water would be devastating."

Afghanistan is now 11 years into a drought with no end in sight. Scientists say it fits the pattern long predicted for global warming, and matches similar climatic changes in other mountain ranges around the world -- including California's Sierra Nevadas, which provide annual melt water irrigating America's fertile San Joaquin Valley.