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Taliban plan Turning Ex-Military Bases Into Special Economic Zones

Taliban plan Turning Ex-Military Bases Into Special Economic Zones. credit: ResoluteSupportMedia / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Taliban government in Afghanistan has announced plans to convert some of the former foreign military bases in the country into economic zones for businesses.

The move is aimed at reviving the country’s struggling economy, which has been hit hard by the recent political turmoil and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the region. The Taliban government has identified a number of former military bases that will be transformed into economic zones in the coming months.

The decision was announced by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is the acting deputy prime minister for economic affairs, who said that the government is committed to creating an environment that is conducive to business and economic growth.

“It was decided that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should progressively take control of the remaining military bases of the foreign forces with the intention of converting them into special economic zones,” Mullah Baradar said in a statement.

The announcement comes as Afghanistan faces a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, with millions of people struggling to meet their basic needs.

The country has been plunged into uncertainty since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, following the withdrawal of foreign military forces who had been present in the region for two decades.

Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Rahman from Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies said, “The Taliban desperately needs to boost its coffers if it is to govern better and attain some domestic legitimacy.” 

Massive Undiscovered Natural Resources

It is estimated that Afghanistan has massive undiscovered natural resources such as natural gas, copper, and rare earth, the combined worth of which exceeds one trillion dollars.

Nonetheless, as a result of years of violence and instability, the majority of these resources have not been exploited.

The recent withdrawal of US military forces from the country has caused additional financial problems for the country, such as the imposition of sanctions on government officials, the freezing of assets of the central bank, and the cessation of aid from other countries that previously used to support the economy.

Agreement With Chinese Company 

The Taliban leadership has just signed an agreement with a Chinese company to collect oil from northern Afghanistan under the terms of a 25-year contract in an effort to improve the economic condition of the nation.

Although China has not yet publicly acknowledged the Taliban as the constitutional government of Afghanistan, the nation is nevertheless very important to China’s economic interests.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a strategy to fund infrastructure projects in rising economies, such as ports, highways, and bridges. Afghanistan is a crucial site in the area of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is located in China.

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