13 Oct A Taxing Narrative: Miscalculating Revenues and Misunderstanding the Conflict in Afghanistan
Posted at 10:04h in UncategorizedBack
|Theme||Governance and Political Economy|
|Date of Publication||October 13, 2021|
The assumption that the Taliban collected significant amounts of money taxing the cultivation of opium, the production of opiates, and on the smuggling of drugs across Afghanistan’s borders is the bedrock on which a narrative of a narco- insurgency was constructed. Allegations of the involvement of some of its senior leadership in drugs trafficking cement this narrative to the point where some Western military leaders have argued that the Taliban was little more than a criminal enterprise whose territorial ambitions were primarily driven by its involvement in the drugs business. Even the Taliban’s prohibition of opium in 2000— described by a senior member of UNODC at the time as “one of the most remarkable successes ever”— is viewed by parts of the UN, western analysts, and some donors as a cynical ploy designed to increase prices and the value of what was believed to be an accumulated stock, due to the belief that the Taliban’s primary source of finance was illegal drugs.This paper reflects a comprehensive empirical account of the monies earned by the Taliban and an appeal that features assessments of funding for the state and non-state actors, not just in Afghanistan but in other fragile and conflict-affected states. The analysis is grounded in strong evidence that is built on appropriate methods.