The Taliban is accusing the US of violating the peace deal the two parties signed in February 2020 by maintaining sanctions on Taliban officials. Under the Doha agreement, Washington pledged that it would work to remove both US and UN Taliban sanctions after intra-Afghan negotiations began.
Some members of the Taliban’s new interim government are under sanctions, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who is blacklisted by the UN. Interior Minister Sirrajudin Haqqani is wanted by the FBI with a $5 million bounty and was the leader of the Haqqani Network, which the US has designated as a terrorist organization.
“Pentagon officials have remarked that some cabinet members of the Islamic Emirate or family members of the late Haqqani Sahib are on the US blacklists and still targets,” the Taliban’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Islamic Emirate considers this a clear violation of the Doha Agreement which is neither in the interest of the United States or Afghanistan.”
The Doha agreement said that after the intra-Afghan talks begin, the US “will initiate an administrative review of current US sanctions and the rewards list against members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan … with the goal of removing these sanctions by August 27, 2020.”
The agreement also said the US would “start diplomatic engagement with other members of the United Nations Security Council and Afghanistan to remove members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan … from the sanctions list with the aim of achieving this objective by May 29, 2020.”
After the Doha agreement was signed, disagreements over prisoner releases delayed the start of intra-Afghan talks by several months, so the dates set by the deal for sanctions relief are irrelevant. But the Taliban could argue that they still deserve sanctions relief since they did engage in talks with the now-defunct US-backed Afghan government.
The Doha agreement was vague, so the US will likely respond by accusing the Taliban of not living up to other aspects of it. Besides sanctions on Taliban officials, the US has also frozen billions in Afghan reserves. Biden officials say recognition and engagement with the Taliban-led government depend on Taliban actions.