Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Afghanistan’s TOLO News that US-Afghan relations moving forward “will depend” on the actions of the Taliban.
“The Taliban says it seeks international legitimacy and international support and that will depend entirely on what it does, not just on what it says. And the trajectory of its relationship with us and with the rest of the world will depend on its actions,” Blinken said in an interview that was published Wednesday.
The US is using its financial power as leverage over the Taliban. Despite warnings of an impending humanitarian crisis due to a lack of food and medical infrastructure, the US has seized about $7 billion in Afghan reserves that are held by the US Federal Reserve. The Biden administration has also pressured the IMF into denying Afghanistan access to certain funds.
The US says it is using this leverage to get the Taliban to allow remaining Americans and Afghans seeking refuge to leave the country. Blinken also claims the US cares about the rights of Afghans living under the Taliban-led government. But if the US really cared about the Afghan people, it would not deny Afghanistan its own desperately-needed funds.
On Tuesday, the Taliban announced a new caretaker government for Afghanistan. The current cabinet is entirely made up of Taliban members, causing some to question the Taliba’s promises to form an “inclusive” government. For their part, the Taliban insist the new government is just temporary, and a more diverse cabinet will eventually be formed.
At a separate news conference on Wednesday, Blinken took aim at the Taliban’s cabinet picks. “We’re assessing the announcement but despite professing that a new government would be inclusive, the announced list of names consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates, and no women,” he said.