Taliban Foreign Policy Chief Accuses US of Breaking Reconstruction Promises
February 15, 2022
The U.S. government has violated several commitments outlined in the Doha accords including promises to cooperate with the Taliban on reconstruction efforts, Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said in an interview.
The comments come as donor states struggle with a no-win situation in facing current distribution requirements in Afghanistan, which include: (1) the obvious need to let the Afghans use their own money to rescue a starving nation, and (2) the need to circumvent the Taliban from purportedly abusing funds.
The radical movement is none too pleased with how the U.S. and its allies have approached both humanitarian funding and reconstruction.
“It was promised that the U.S. would cooperate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and encourage other countries to do the same,” Muttaqi told Sputnik in an interview published on Monday, February 14. “Instead of cooperating, they imposed sanctions.”
Last week, Biden, controversially, signed an executive order that froze $7 billion in Afghan Central Bank funds that will be diverted and split evenly between a humanitarian trust and compensation to terror victims.
The U.S. president’s legally questionable move comes in sharp contrast to calls by UN chief Antonio Guterres who just last month urged the international community to immediately inject liquidity into the Afghan economy and ensure the country’s central bank is preserved as millions face starvation and death.
A Taliban political office spokesperson said Biden’s decision to freeze the funds constitutes “theft” and showcases the moral decline of the United States.
University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle told Sputnik last week that seizing Afghanistan’s assets actually violates international law and could be considered a form of “economic warfare.”
The State Department, earlier on Monday, was more explicit on the diversion of funding in terms of court processes – for U.S. recipients, that is.
“Victims of terrorism, including of the September 11th terrorist attacks, have brought claims against the Taliban, and they are pursuing the central bank’s remaining assets in federal court,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. “This [Biden] administration will continue to support these victims and their families.”
However, the U.S. official was less clear about the other half of the funding. Biden’s executive order, Price claimed, is aimed at “protecting and preserving” funds for Afghans.
“No decision has been made about how these funds will ultimately be used to benefit the Afghan people, many of whom are also victims of terrorism,” Price said.
In other words, the funds are in limbo. And, here is the kicker:
“Whatever mechanism is established, it will be designed to minimize the risk the funds end up in the hands of the Taliban or other sanctioned individuals or groups,” Price warned.
So one could safely conclude that Afghans can expect to see the money when, what, the Taliban disappear?
Of course, before the fall of Kabul, the U.S. would gladly give $3.5 billion to the Ghani administration and see at least 30 percent of it flood the coffers of state officials.
Now, going back to the Taliban claims vis-à-vis reconstruction collaboration, it is worth revisiting the language of the Doha deal itself – the document signed by U.S. and Taliban officials on February 29, 2020. One interpretation of the text of the document, it could be argued, does appear to support the foreign minister’s allegations.
“The United States will seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and will not intervene in its internal affairs,” a line in part III of the document says.
However, another reading could suggest that the West’s reconstruction cooperation assurances were based on the premise that the “settlement” of the crisis would be via dialogue and not through a military seizure.
Muttaqi, in Monday’s interview, also said the U.S. did not deliver on its promise to remove Taliban members from international blacklists. Meanwhile, he argued, the Taliban are holding up their part of the bargain with respect to preventing Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist safe haven.
“So far, this soil has not been used against them. We promised them that we would maintain economic and diplomatic relations with the U.S. We stand by that promise,” Muttaqi added.
The acting foreign minister’s words are sure to spark skeptical reactions among many analysts given evidence that al-Qaeda still has close contacts with Taliban at every level while the U.S. military has warned that the radical movement will not be trusted partners in any campaign against the Islamic State.
Another contentious point is one of the elephants in the room, so to speak. That elephant being the extent to which human rights groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the status of Afghan women under the Taliban Reloaded regime.
Ironically, also on Monday, Muttaqi met with Gulf Cooperation Council officials who pressed the Taliban on the need for a national reconciliation plan that “respects basic freedoms and rights, including women’s right to work and education,” according to a statement quoted by Al Jazeera.
When Gulf state monarchies are giving lectures on women’s rights – you know the situation is bad. It is well past time the Talibs awoke.