The Taliban in Afghanistan are running a sophisticated financial network to pay for their insurgent operations, raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the illicit drug trade, kidnappings, extortion and foreign donations that American officials say they are struggling to cut off.And, of course, the Taliban needs less cash to operate than the Afghan government.
“Their operations are so inexpensive that they can be continued indefinitely even with locally generated resources such as small businesses and donations,” said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service and a former analyst of the region at the C.I.A.Indeed, one of the really difficult tricks of building a self-sustaining Afghan government is the funding. Afghanistan can only export so many pomegranates. But before we think about funding the Afghan government, we need to have one. One that matters in much of the country and is not just seen as yet another band of chicken stealers (reference to the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles).
And American officials are debating whether cracking down on the drug trade will anger farmers dependent on it for their livelihoodI don't think that is the question. The question is whether the anger is too destructive to the rest of the effort, because the anger will happen with any anti-drug effort.
I was asked an interesting question last night after ultimate by my captain: what happens if the electoral commission in Afghanistan says that a runoff is required? Karzai is busy delegitimating the panel and the international community, so it is not clear he would go along. So, my response to my captain was--good question.
Quote of the piece:
American officials say they are working closely with the Afghan government to dry up the Taliban financing, but as one senior American military officer in Afghanistan put it last week, “I won’t overstate the progress.”