Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Afghanistan’s War Economy

Thomas Ruttig < 1 min

Maldekstra, 22 September 2022

The downside of the Afghan wars: destroyed Chehelsutun palace in Kabul in 2005 (it has been restored by now). Photo: Thomas Ruttig.

This article was contributed by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig to a special issue of the international affairs journal Maldekstra (no 16, September 2022), published by German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, titled “Economy in War.” His contribution looks at the two categories of profiteurs from the last Afghan war, the international military-industrial complex and parts of the corrupt elites in Afghanistan, the warlords and the nouveau riches, the latter often overlapping. The author finds that, despite some reports and data, research on both categories is still lacking. On the former it is known that the largest US defence companies have seen the value of their stocks increase tenfold since the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror” and, since 2001, have received Pentagon contracts worth 2.2 trillion dollars. According to a Costs of War Project new report, security contractors have received a total of 108 billion dollars from the US Department of Defense for contracts in Afghanistan. About the former, plenty of media and other reports were published but not comprehensive work is available. However, there are data about corruption-losses to development aid.

What is fully clear only, the author writes, is that, “former combatants from all sides of the conflict — along with the majority of the population [with 97% living under the poverty line now] — have been among the wars’ biggest losers.”

The German original of the essay can be found here.


arms industry Corruption costs of war development aid drugs militias war economy war on terror Warlords