One year after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, the situation in Afghanistan is—in a word—worse. Now, the killing of al-Qaida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a U.S. drone attack has raised renewed concerns that the Taliban are providing sanctuary to the terrorist group, which could have grave implications for the country’s future.
On Feb. 11, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order that proposed a plan for the $7 billion of frozen Afghan reserves that have been locked up in U.S. financial institutions since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August. Half was to be placed in a trust that would benefit the Afghan people, with the rest remaining frozen until a U.S. court rules as to whether it could be used to settle the Taliban’s legal debts with the families of 9/11 victims. The president did not determine whether that latter portion could in fact be used for 9/11 reparations—but [...]
In April, the Taliban announced a blanket ban on drug production and use in Afghanistan. There are a number of potential reasons for the move, which would cause considerable financial pain to many of the group’s core constituencies, as well as to the Taliban itself. But the timing of the announcement suggests that the ban will not go into effect immediately, and even if the Taliban are serious about implementing it, they will face obstacles in doing so. One reason for announcing the ban could be to portray the Taliban as being in a position to control the lucrative opium [...]