Economic impediments to a Taliban peace process

James Weir, Hekmatullah Azamy


An important question underlies the potential for a successful peace process in Afghanistan: If political negotiations between the Taliban leadership and the Afghan government succeed, will fighters in the field cease their activities, especially illicit funding practices, and accept government legal authority? Interviews conducted in early 2014—well before the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death or the appearance of Islamic State in the region—indicate that a wide gulf separates the motivations of low-level insurgents from their leadership’s ideological objectives. The rank and file fight for multiple reasons, the most significant of which is the financial advantage of association with the movement. Recent studies of the economics of insurgency describe a crime-insurgency-terror nexus that applies to the contemporary Afghan context, albeit requiring adjustment to account for the distinctive political circumstances and wartime history of Afghanistan. [D74, F51, F52, O53, Z10]


Taliban; peace process; insurgent motivations; crime–terror nexus; insurgent economics

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