KABUL — Taliban officials say they are uncertain about who will unwittingly fund their operations in the wake of President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all U.S troops from Afghanistan.
“The United States has either advertently or inadvertently provided the majority of our funding since we went public back in the ‘90s,” said Taliban spokesman Abdullah Gohar. “Without the steady cash flow coming in from [Department of Defense], we’ll have to dupe some other willfully ignorant superpower into pumping in capital.”
It isn’t just the financial support that the Taliban has appreciated, says Gohar, but the intangible benefits of having a foreign military occupy the lands of a fiercely independent tribal people for 20 years.
The U.S.-Taliban partnership has rapidly expanded since 2001. But the seeds of this enduring relationship were actually sown decades earlier.
“Even back in the pre-Taliban days when our founding fathers were simple mujahideen, they knew they could always rely on shortsighted and incompetent American leaders to throw guns and money at our most extreme factions in an attempt to accomplish nebulous Cold War objectives,” said Gohar. “But unfortunately those days are coming to an end.
“I guess we just got overconfident and thought we could ride this gravy train indefinitely.”
The pinch won’t only be felt on the national level. Local Taliban leaders are also worried about where their paychecks will come from once the U.S. leaves.
“My paycheck and the hundreds of other paychecks I skim off the top have been coming from some shadowy quasi-military American-funded organization since at least 2008,” said Ibrihim Sediqui, a Helmand-based Taliban cell leader and drug lord who also serves as district chief of police. “The logistical changes alone will throw my whole opium supply chain into chaos.”
In recent years, Sediqui says many of his best cops have had to take on second jobs as bomb makers just to make ends meet.
“We’ve already lost thousands of ghost soldiers to budget cuts in the past few years,” he said. “If the American dollars go away completely, there’ll be nothing left for me to embezzle.”
The U.S. has stated that it appreciates the long and prosperous economic relationship it has had with the Taliban, but that it needs to evolve its business model to meet the demands of modern great power conflict.
“There’s been ups and downs, sure. But on the whole, we consider our long partnership with the Taliban a success that we can look back on with pride,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “They did more for our defense budget than most mid-tier dictators and global terrorist networks ever could, and we were happy to repay them in kind by covering their bills for a couple decades.
“But the old reliables like Russia and China now offer a better way forward to justify our defense budget to the American people.”
At press time, Taliban leaders expressed relief after the U.S. announced it would stay on for “just a couple more decades.”
Cat Astronaut is a demobilized mobile infantryman and the creator of Ye Olde Tyme News.