More shadows than light: The Taliban's evolving finances
31 May 2022 update
The Taliban has been in control of Afghanistan for a full 9 months now. In that time, the country has experienced a humanitarian crisis, a collapse of its economy, a rise in terrorist attacks, and almost complete global isolation. The Taliban faces significant economic challenges arising from this isolation and its status as a terrorist organization. In July of 2021, I wrote a brief analysis of Taliban finance, exploring how the group raises, uses, moves, stores, manages, and obscures its funds. This article serves as a short update to that analysis. Despite the group having taken control of Afghanistan, many of their existing financing mechanisms remain the same as before their takeover.
With its takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban has assumed control of the country’s finances, and is now responsible for both fiscal and monetary policy. Since that time, the country has suffered almost complete economic collapse due to the Taliban’s global isolation and mis-management practices. In May, the group announced their first budget for Afghanistan with a shortfall of nearly $500 million. The gap between revenues and expenditures was not explained; some of this shortfall might be made up by international supporters (both states and individuals), but is more likely to simply go unfunded, meaning that promised services and projects will not materialize.