(New York, N.Y.) — In the nearly 20 months since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the country has presented one of the most dynamic and challenging international security environments today. The Taliban’s alignment with al-Qaeda through the Haqqani Network, which is situated at the center of the Taliban regime, as well as the persistent and widespread violence between the Taliban and the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) are contributing to a rapidly deteriorating environment that threatens the viability of provisioning humanitarian aid and presents serious challenges to global security.
To better understand this situation and what steps foreign governments should take, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) published a report in December 2022, The Taliban's Takeover in Afghanistan – Effects on Global Terrorism, which details and analyzes the internal and external threats that have manifested in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
Internally, many of the same Taliban leaders who lost power in 2001 have returned under the new Taliban regime despite being on the U.N. Security Council's terrorism blacklist. Financial support from nongovernmental humanitarian aid groups could be diverted to launder proceeds from the illicit drug economy, which is now fully under control of the Taliban, and to subsidize terrorism just as the misuse of charitable organizations during the last Taliban regime financed al-Qaeda’s activities in the country.
CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, the former coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s ISIL, Al-Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team and a co-author of the report, observed that the Taliban’s “control over all sectors of the Afghan economy affords them additional opportunities to launder proceeds from these activities. Consequently, financial flows in and out of the country set up to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid are also at risk of being misused for this purpose.”
At the same time, the complex rivalry and violence between the Taliban and ISKP forces, including assassinations of Taliban regime officials, has prompted foreign governments to abandon Afghanistan or call for their citizens to evacuate. Most recently, Saudi officials left their embassy and relocated to Pakistan in February; they still have not returned. This act follows China's call for its citizens to evacuate in December and India doing the same in August 2022.
These humanitarian crises, which now includes a risk of famine, threatens to drive Afghans into seeking refuge abroad. According to the European Union Agency for Asylum, in January 2023 12,117 Afghani applications for asylum were filed with the EU, up 42 percent from January 2022. The EU, however, is unprepared. “Europe is progressing but at a desperately slow pace, and we will have to rely on undeserved luck if nothing is to happen in the one, two or three years to come,” said CEP Advisory Board member Dr. Gerhard Conrad, a co-author of the report, in a February 2023 CEP-KAS webinar.
To watch the CEP-KAS webinar “The Taliban’s Takeover in Afghanistan – Effects on Global Terrorism,” please click here.
To read the CEP-KAS report, The Taliban’s Takeover In Afghanistan – Effects of Global Terrorism, please click here.