The Taliban on Friday repeated a call for the US to release billions in frozen Afghan government funds as Afghanistan is facing food and cash shortages that are being exacerbated by drought.
“The money belongs to the Afghan nation. Just give us our own money,” Taliban Finance Ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal told Reuters. “Freezing this money is unethical and is against all international laws and values.”
The US has frozen about $9 billion in Afghan funds, including about $7 billion that is held by the US federal reserve. Washington is trying to use this money and its power over the global financial system as leverage over the Taliban.
The Biden administration claims it cares about the people of Afghanistan and announced $144 million in new humanitarian aid for the country. But the easiest way for the US to help the situation would be to release the frozen funds and lift the sanctions on the Taliban.
History shows that US sanctions do little to change the government of the target country and only hurt the civilian population of the country.
“If reserves remain frozen, Afghan importers will not be able to pay for their shipments, banks will start to collapse, food will become scarce, grocery stores will be empty,” warned Shah Mehrabi, a board member of the Afghan Central Bank.
Besides the US economic pressure, banks in Afghanistan have put limits on cash withdrawals, forcing Afghans to wait in line for hours to get money. Most banks closed as the Taliban took over the country and the US-backed government collapsed, and they have been struggling to reopen due to the high demand for cash.