The White House said there are currently no immediate plans for the US to release billions in Afghan funds that were frozen after the former US-backed government collapsed, Afghanistan’s Tolo News reported on Tuesday.
In the wake of the US withdrawal, Afghanistan is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, which is being exacerbated by US economic pressure. Citing the UN’s World Food Program, The New York Times reported that about 22.8 million Afghans — more than half of the country’s population — are expected to face life-threatening hunger this winter, and 8.7 million Afghans are “nearing famine.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US wants to benefit the Afghan people without benefiting the Taliban. But whether the US likes it or not, the Taliban is now the government of Afghanistan. And history shows that US sanctions and economic pressure do little to change the targeted government and always hurt the civilian population.
Taliban leaders are still under US and UN sanctions, which discourage international businesses and banks from doing business with the new Afghan government, something Psaki explained.
“The Taliban remain sanctioned by the United States as a specially designated global terrorist group, and a number of its officials are subject to the UNSCR’s 1988 sanctions regime,” Psaki said. “This raises immediate red flags for many states’ central banks and the financial community more generally when considering any transactions.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, the Taliban’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called on the US to release the funds and lift sanctions. Muttaqi said he seeks the world’s “mercy and compassion” to help the millions of Afghans in need. “Making Afghanistan unstable or having a weak Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone,” he said.