After two decades, the Taliban have once again captured power in Afghanistan. This changed situation in Afghanistan has forced its neighboring countries to think about how to adjust to this changing geopolitical scenario. Not only this, but the neighboring country was also worried about political instability, potential refugee influx, and the possibility of Afghanistan becoming a hotbed of terrorist activities again. The way the Taliban have faced US foreign forces for the last 20 years and the speed with which they have seized power in Afghanistan, proves that they have no shortage of money and weapons. After all, where does the Taliban get this amount of money and weapons?
Money in The Taliban
The United Nations Security Council’s May 2020 report estimated the Taliban’s total annual income at $300 million to $1.5 million a year. After two decades of study, the Security Council has concluded that drug smuggling has been the primary source of Taliban funding. However, there have been a number of reasons, including a decline in opium cultivation and profits, that have reduced the Taliban’s income in recent years.
The Security Council report quoted officials as saying that the Taliban handles the smuggling and taxation of heroin in Afghanistan and it spread over eight districts from Hisark in Nangarhar to Dur Baba on the Pakistani border. The Taliban commanders in all these districts collect tax from the smugglers on the basis of per kilogram of heroin. Thus these smuggling routes have helped to financially empower the Taliban commander of each district.
Even though the Taliban have been earning a lot of income for many years from the cultivation and production of heroin, the rise of methamphetamine is benefiting that. This medication is prescribe to patients with certain disorders including neurobehavioral disorders. Since it stimulates the nervous system, it also used for intoxication. Its smuggling is more profitable than heroin. Farah and Nimruz are the major producing provinces of methamphetamine in Afghanistan. And it believing that the Taliban control 60 percent of the laboratories in these two provinces.
A report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime last year said- Afghanistan supplies opium to markets in Europe and Canada, markets from South Asia to North America, Oceania including its neighboring countries.
Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world. Afghanistan’s share in global production in the last five years has been around 84%.
Sources of Weapons
Iran has been supplying arms and military equipment to the Taliban in western Afghanistan- according to a statement by the Afghan army chief General Sharif Yaftali to a media group in September 2017.
A November 2019 report by the US Defense Intelligence Agency also stated that since 2007, Iran has given weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan to counter foreign forces and Isis Khorasan, including the US. Also, to increase its influence in the government after the end of the conflict. Apart from this, after training them, they also been financed.
The ISI provides weapons through extremist religious schools, etc.
To fight the Taliban, the Afghan army was provided with incalculable arms and ammunition by the US. The Taliban believed to have obtained many of these arms and ammunition through the loot.