Why does the US finance Pakistan

Is US tax money financing the Taliban?

DW-WORLD.DE: Mr. Ehrhart, according to media reports, the Taliban are said to have partly financed their struggles with US tax money. What does this incident tell us about the work of the American authorities in and for Afghanistan?

Dr. Hans-Georg Ehrhart: That tells us first of all how the situation in Afghanistan is - extremely confused and complicated. And that tells us about the American authorities that it is very difficult for them from Washington to prevent these things, although the facts have been known for a long time.

Is this confusion also related to the fact that the war in Afghanistan is a so-called "privatized war"? Many private companies help organize the war and have one main goal - to optimize their profits. It is not precisely controlled who commissions whom for what.

Naturally. The most important thing is to get contracts first. And then it depends on which company got the contract and how reliable it is. Because at a certain point, the US companies have to work with Afghan security companies on site. This is where a complicated game begins: the Afghan companies use their connections to ensure that transport routes are safe. To do this, they have to work with the Afghan police. The police, in turn, commission other companies to guarantee the safety of the transport routes. Whether these so-called private security companies are actually private or partly belong to the Taliban is not examined in detail.

But if this problem has been known for years, why didn't the American authorities take action against this practice?

They are already trying to take action against it and they are also trying to take action. The only problem is that you never know exactly who you are dealing with in Afghanistan. Even long-term partner companies can certainly be infiltrated. At a certain point you have to buy security for the transport. It is very difficult to control the flow of money.

In other words: Cross-financing from the Taliban must also be accepted to transport the necessary supplies. An unsolvable problem?

It can be minimized at best. It cannot be ruled out entirely. We know about the great corruption problem within the Afghan authorities, especially in Kabul.

Can it be part of the solution if the supplies are no longer transported via Pakistan but rather Russia and Central Asia?

That is already being tried. The unsafe situation in the south of the country has meant that an alternative route has been set up in the north. As a result, there is also more unrest and fighting in the north, where the Bundeswehr is jointly responsible for security. Of course you will try to find better partners here. But the problem will remain the same. The security bought and the cooperation with the Afghan authorities bring risks. This means that cross-financing of the Taliban cannot be ruled out by using an alternative route.

Dr. Hans-Georg Ehrhart is head of the Center for European Peace and Security Studies (ZEUS) at the University of Hamburg.

The interview was conducted by Ratbil Shamel
Editor: Chi Viet Giang