Who Funds Taliban in Afghanistan? How wealthy is the Taliban?

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The Taliban’s are a militia force that control a major chunk of Afghanistan areas frankly speaking up to 90 percent of the Afghan Land including major road networks and borders with neighboring countries as claimed by Taliban’s (a Deobandi Islamist movement) spokesperson. The land in their possession is declared as Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan headed by Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada since 2016.

 Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada leader of Taliban
Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada leader of Taliban

No one is unaware of the Afghan issue as it is in limelight and makes it to the headlines of all major news networks. The Taliban’s have been fighting a war which was imposed on them first by Russia and then by NATO forces for almost half a century, but the Militant group has been fighting them efficiently and controls all key Afghan territories, you can judge their success through the point that they have forced Americans to make an exit.

All of this war needs funding, Taliban’s are not like any other state where they can export their stuff for generating revenue. It is estimated that their 2019-20 budget was valued at whooping US $ 1.6 Billion. The question remains who funds Taliban.

Taliban total budge
Taliban total budge

Foreign Funding – $240 million

NATO allies have accused several countries for funding Taliban’s such as Pakistan Russia, Qatar and Saudia Arabia etc. but there is no substantial proof of such funding sources. Most investigative journalist consider this funding to be at personal level rather than a state sponsorship.

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NATO claims that Pakistan funds Taliban
NATO claims that Pakistan funds Taliban

Some sources say Pakistan gave $30 million in aid and a further $10 million for government wages in 1997 when Taliban’s ruled in Kabul, but it is not logically appropriate to consider Pakistan as a funding source as the country has been struggling with its own financial situations.

The major chunk of this fund is through charitable donations.

Read Also: Why are Afghan forces not able to stop the Taliban?

Opium Trade – $416 million

According to US sources 60% of the Taliban finances came from opium and drug trade but many independent institutions consider it a little exaggerated even UN published a report that Taliban don’t only rely on Poppy smuggling, but it has a quite large sum contributing to finances.

Opium trade in Afghanistan by Taliban
Opium trade in Afghanistan by Taliban

From 2011 forward, the Taliban’s yearly revenue was anticipated to reach $400 million (£316 million). However, it is thought to have risen dramatically in recent years and could now be as high as $1.5 billion. For that very reason US forces even tried to destroy Taliban’s drug processing labs.

Taxes and extortion – $160 million

Afghanistan is the world’s leading opium producer.The opium poppy is significant business, supplying the vast bulk of illicit heroin globally with an estimated yearly export value of $1.5-$3 billion.

Although some planting occurs in government areas, most of the poppy farming occurs in Taliban-controlled areas and is thought to be a significant source of income.

Heroine and drugs in Afghanistan
Heroine and drugs in Afghanistan

Taxes imposed at various phases of the process are used to fund the Taliban. Farmers of opium are charged a ten percent cultivation tax. The laboratories that transform opium into heroin, as well as the traffickers who smuggle the illegal substances, pay taxes.

The Taliban’s annual share of the illicit drug economy is estimated to be between $100 million and $400 million dollars.

Expanded Control Over Areas

Major sources say that a realistic estimate will show that Taliban’s control 70% of the Afghan territory.  In all these areas the Taliban’s have imposed a strict Tax regime for revenue generation.

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The Taliban’s Financial Commission reminded Afghan businesses moving merchandise to pay their taxes when passing through Taliban-controlled territories in an open letter earlier this year.

It also gets money from corporations like telecommunications and phone companies.

The chairman of Afghanistan’s Electricity Company told the BBC earlier this year that the Taliban made more than $2 million a year by charging electricity customers across the country.

There’s also money to be made directly from a fight. When the Taliban take control of a military base or a city, they empty coffers and grab a large number of weapons, as well as cars and armored vehicles.

Mines and minerals – $400 million to $464 million

Thanks to Afghanistan’s geography it has a lot of mineral resources that are quite rare and expensive as we know Taliban control most of the land, so they control the mining industry valued at $ 1bn. Many news agencies claim that Taliban’s take 50 % of the revenue from mining industry.

The Taliban have taken over mining sites and are extorting money from both legal and criminal mining companies.

The UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team reported in its 2014 annual report that the Taliban received more than $10 million per year from 25 to 30 illegal mining activities in southern Helmand province.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by Taliban
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by Taliban
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