Afghanistan

Taliban Profits Off U.S. Plant

In yet another sign of the shifting complexity of the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. now finds itself unwittingly funneling money to the Taliban as a result of well-intentioned efforts to upgrade a crucial Afghan power plant. U.S. forces have spent about $100 million in taxpayer dollars to upgrade the Kajaki hydropower plant, the largest source of electricity in southern Afghanistan. The problem, though, is that it’s located in a region run by the Taliban, which has control of the local power grid. Residents, then, pay their monthly utility bills to the insurgent group, who are free to turn around and use the cash flow to fund their fight against American troops. “The more electricity there is, the more money the Taliban make,” a local government tribal-affairs adviser told The Wall Street Journal. Cutting the Taliban’s power, unfortunately, would also adversely affect government buildings intertwined in the power grid, an unpleasant option: Providing basic services like electricity is a key component of the U.S. strategy to bolster faith in the Afghan government.