Now that the Taliban have regained control of Afghanistan, the hardline Islamic group could be sitting on a fortune worth “trillions of dollars” according to experts.
The country has enormous mineral deposits including copper, gold, oil, natural gas and uranium.
The Chinese government is also reportedly interested in exploiting Afghanistan’s vast reserves of lithium – a metal used extensively in the construction of high-tech electronics.
Zhou Bo, a former Chinese Army officer, wrote in the New York Times this week that Afghanistan has two things that China values highly: “Opportunities in infrastructure and industry building – areas in which China’s capabilities are arguably unmatched – and access to $1 trillion [£727bn] in untapped mineral deposits.”
The huge boost in wealth for the terrorists is sounding alarm bells from international finance analysts.
Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict research at Sweden's Uppsala University, said: "The Taliban victory will not only be a morale booster for other Islamist terror groups around the world, but it will also strengthen them further with the help of arms and drug money."
Afghanistan is one of the world’s largest producers of opium, and money from the international heroin trade has long been a major source of finance for the group.
Joseph Parkes, Asia security analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, says it could be many years before the Taliban will be able to realise the potential of Afghanistan’s more legitimate financial advantages.
He told CNN: "The Taliban has taken power but the transition from insurgent group to national government will be far from straightforward.
"Functional governance of the nascent mineral sector is likely many years away."
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International acceptance of the Taliban’s rule is by no means certain. The G7 group of countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – released a statement this week which said that recognition of the new Afghan government would depend on its human rights record.
“We will judge the Afghan parties by their actions, not words,” the group said.
The US still maintains sanctions on the Taliban and has frozen close to $10 billion [£7bn] of Afghanistan’s financial reserves.
Meanwhile, the Russians who fought a draining war with Afghan insurgents in the 1980s, are moving to establish a friendly relationship with the new Taliban-led government.
President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, August 18, that the Taliban's takeover was "a reality they had to work with".
Taliban leaders say they want to forge good international relations, particularly with China.
Earlier this week one senior Taliban figure met with the Chinese ambassador in Kabul and "discussed the security of the Chinese embassy and diplomats, the current situation in Afghanistan, bilateral relations and China’s humanitarian assistance".
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