On Tuesday, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee that he sees no situation where the Taliban would have access to the $9 billion in Afghan central bank reserves, which are primarily held by the US Federal Reserve.
The Biden administration froze the reserves after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed. Adeyemo also said it is “essential” to maintain sanctions on the Taliban while also getting humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.
“We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people,” he said.
“Our goal is to make sure that we are implementing our sanctions regime against the Taliban and the Haqqani network, but at the same time allowing for the permissible flow of humanitarian assistance into the country,” Adeyemo added.
The Haqqani network has been designated by the US as a terrorist organization since 2012, and sanctions remain on its members in the new Afghan government. The Taliban has called this a violation of the Doha agreement that was signed in February 2020. Under the deal, the US agreed to remove sanctions on the Taliban after intra-Afghan talks began.
The US maintains sanctions and withholds Afghan funds as the country is facing major food and cash shortages. While the US claims it wants to help the Afghan people, history shows sanctions only hurt the civilian population of the target country and do little to change the government.