During the Soviet-Afghan war, the USA supplied arms to the Taliban.

During the Afghan civil war, Pakistan is believed to have supplied arms to the Taliban. But, they changed the policy when Imran Khan became the PM.

BBC said that Russia has been supplying arms to the Taliban.

Who has been supplying arms to the Taliban during the US occupation of Afghanistan, and after the US exit?

1 Answer 1


This question was heavily downvoted. It had one answer which had acrimonious debate and was since deleted. Here comes a partial answer, but first some general remarks:

The original poster got it right to split the question into different time periods. All too often, questions like this forget that countries which were reluctant allies in 1985 might have been bitter enemies in 1995 and reluctant allies again in 2005. What the poster seems to miss is that countries are not unitary actors, either. Relevant to this case, the Pakistani central government, various Pakistani intelligence agencies, and Pakistani regional governments in the tribal areas have different agendas. While international law holds the central government responsible, it is not always in control. And before ypu think of that as a sign of a failing state, think back to the Iran-Contra Affair.

  • The Taliban get weapons from surrendering or defecting government forces. Those were, of course, supplied by the West or with the West's connivance.
  • According to the US, the Russians supported the Taliban in the late 2010s. According to the BBC report, they fear the IS and prefer the Taliban. One might note the various anti-IS forces the West supported in Syria around that time ...
  • Oxfam mentions Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, and the Ukraine as sources, but that was decades ago. It also mentions Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, Kazakhstan, Iran, and China for weapons "as recent as 2003," without giving a clear source for that date.
  • Sipri states that the Taliban intercepted shipments intended for other factions. It also lists as suspected suppliers Angola, the Balkans and Black sea regions, Central Asia, China, ‘Golden Triangle’, Horn of Africa, Liberia, Middle East, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South America. Spiri also highlights what I wrote above: individual actors in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area are not the same as the Pakistani government, and they are a main conduit.

What I find particularly difficult with some of the reports is that they do not distinguish between the original manufacturer of a weapon, various intermediaries, and the entity to hand them over to the Taliban.

So where do the arms come from? All of the above, and likely others.

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