Afghanistan (I) - various reports
Afghanistan and China's relationship has come to the fore, ever since the United States withdrew from the country this past August. As international humanitarian aid stopped flowing to Afghanistan, China had been one of the few to step in with - limited - pledges. And it is not clear how much Beijing will engage, given the ongoing security problem as ISIS-K steps up attacks to disrupt Taliban control. So how durable is this China-Afghanistan relationship?
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. But there is one sure-fire way to make money there - the drug trade. The Taliban is heavily involved in the opium and heroin trade - with money funding their recent takeover of power in Afghanistan.
When the Taliban were in last in power they banned girls’ education, destroying schools and murdering teachers to prevent girls being educated. This time the Taliban told secondary schools to open only for boys, but say their restrictions on girls studying are "temporary" in order to ensure learning environments are "safe" for them. But some schools have opened for girls. The BBC's World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, met female students and their teacher to find out what's happening to girls' education in Afghanistan.
Since first taking power in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban have been involved in the mass production and distribution of opium, which is extracted from the country's seemingly infinite amount of poppy fields. In fact, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates over 80% of global opium and heroin supplies are sourced from Afghanistan. The gross worth of Afghan opiate exports is estimated at between $1.5 and $3 billion per year. Forbes spoke with two experts in the area of Afghanistan's illicit drug trade to learn more about how the Taliban's cartel became so wealthy and what could happen to drug exports now that the organization has retaken power in the country.
Now that the Taliban are about to run a whole country, experts are wondering what their sources of income will be and how they will use them. German expert Hans-Jakob Schindler risks a look ahead.