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Now Taliban is at war with itself

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By Jacob N. Shapiro

The horrific bombings outside the Kabul airport, which killed 13 American service members and scores of Afghans, bring two facts into stark relief.

First, the Taliban will face challenges from more extreme groups. Second, the Taliban is divided. The attackers upended the aura of control the group's leaders want to present to the world. In all likelihood, they made it through multiple Taliban checkpoints to pull off the attack.

Indeed, there is a new battle taking shape in Afghanistan ― this one within the Taliban political movement.

On one side are senior leaders who understand the organization desperately needs foreign assistance if they wish to remain in power for more than a few months. The government is staring at economic collapse. It will lose more than $3 billion a year in support if all pledged international aid is withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the Taliban lacks access to the $9 billion in the Afghan central bank's reserves, most of which is controlled by the U.S. and international institutions, and is already facing galloping inflation.

The Taliban's $300 million to $1.6 billion in revenue from the opium trade won't go far to meet the government's $5.5 billion annual budget, especially as it faces a new insurgency and unrest in many areas of the country. Though increasing taxes on legal trade is certainly possible in the short run, doing so will make an already dire economic situation even worse.

Stranded funds and limited alternatives create........

© The Korea Times

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