The Taliban has taken over a US-built bridge connecting Afghanistan and Tajikistan to collect customs revenues, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The U.S. spent more than $40 million to construct the Sher Khan Bandar crossing that the Taliban overtook on June 22, according to the WSJ. The Taliban forced 134 border guards and other Afghan officials out of the area, into Tajikistan.
“Now, it is our area, so they should go to us,” Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said, the WSJ reported. “Businessmen are very happy now. They say, before we had to grease the palms of officials, but now everything goes smoothly.”
#Taliban in Sher Khan Bandar, major border crossing with #Tajikistan #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/hXTeRoakbI
— Dr. Drexluddin Khan Spiveyzai Kayani (Drexy Baba) (@RisboLensky) June 22, 2021
The Taliban has gained control of most of the Afghan border with Tajikistan and instead of closing the crossing, the insurgents have made agreements with local officials to continue trade, according to the WSJ. Trade revenues used to bring in tens of millions of dollars before the takeover and now the funds will go to the insurgents.
“We informed all these governments and assured them that the routine work of the border, the customs, will be running as before,” Shaheen said, the WSJ reported. “Even the staff members of the customs, we have not changed them, we told them: Do your work as it was. We haven’t even changed the stamps. The reason is that we don’t want to create problems for businessmen, for traders, for common people.”
The Taliban has gained control of more than one-third of Afghan districts as U.S. troops have withdrawn from the country, according to the WSJ. Most of the districts have surrendered without a fight and Afghan forces have fled or given up.
A U.S. intelligence report found the Afghan government could collapse six months after American forces leave the country, the WSJ reported. (RELATED: Taliban Says US Troops Must Leave By Deadline Or Risk Being Considered Occupiers)
The crossing was supposedly closed after Kabul lost control in the area, but the Taliban held a meeting with businessmen in a mosque to discuss the continuation of trade, Sher Khan Bandar traders association leader Sayed Mujtaba Hashemi said, according to the WSJ.
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