“I ask the government of the United States of America to take responsible measures, I ask that the assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan be released and the sanctions against our banks lifted. If this situation persists, the Afghan people will become the cause of mass migrations in the region and in the world ”are the words of Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban foreign minister who last week wrote an open letter to the United States Congress.
Lines at the same time alarmed and cunning in which on the one hand the Taliban government seeks international support, on the other hand it discharges the responsibility for the humanitarian crisis which is entirely linked, we read, “to the freezing of our people’s assets by the American government”.
Three months have passed since the fall of Kabul, months in which the Taliban tried to convince the international community that they were no longer the ones who isolated the country from the rest of the world from 1996 to 2001.
Today’s Taliban try to build a semblance of presentability, despite no female ministers being appointed in their government, and girls are still forbidden to go back to secondary school. Afghanistan today is not what it was thirty years ago, it has been said many times in these twelve weeks, there is an embryo of civil society that will not go back decades. Perhaps. In the meantime, however, hundreds of media have been forced to close or blacked out, journalists are threatened daily and public executions and summary trials have resumed. With the mass evacuations from Kabul airport over, and most of the spotlight turned off as a result, Afghans are left with frustration over abandonment without prospects and a humanitarian crisis that has already quickly precipitated.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, as he writes, knows that his government cannot pay doctors, teachers and other public employees, he knows that sanctions have made it impossible for the United Nations and other humanitarian groups to pay staff and support relief operations, and he knows that if the funds are not released, millions of people will starve.
For this reason he reiterates to the international community the effects of the freezing of money, he does so in a vaguely blackmailing tone, using the lever most feared by the West, which is always the same, in every crisis scenario, from the Turkish border to the Belarusian border to the Mediterranean. central: to insinuate the fear of an exodus, of an uncontrolled migratory flow if the nine billion dollars in assets of the Afghan Central Bank are not quickly released and now blocked by the United States Federal Reserve, to which more than one billion dollars must be added of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Money that should have relaunched the Afghan economy in 2021-2022 and which is now frozen: “If the current situation is not unlocked, there will be mass migrations in the region and in the world”, reads the letter published in various languages. To the good connoisseur. Muttaqi is worried but shrewd. He knows he is part of a Taliban single-color government inadmissible by international diplomacies that ask for an inclusive and respectful government of minorities as a condition for negotiations, but he reiterates that the new government of Kabul since last August “has managed to bring political stability and security to the country “.
As if to say that the Taliban have re-established an order, theirs, of course, that of the strict application of sharia law, of women excluded from public life, of the restored Ministry for the promotion of Virtue and the prevention of Vice and of military courts to enforce “The sharia system, divine decrees and social reforms” but that this is the price of stability, people no longer die on the streets as before, and now Afghans must be helped not to die of starvation.
The letter is a concentrate of understatement and cunning. Muttaqi writes: “As in other countries of the world, our bilateral relations have also experienced ups and downs”.
In those words, “ups and downs”, the head of Taliban diplomacy is explaining a paradox of the Afghan crisis but also the moral dilemma that today weighs on Western governments, he is saying to the American Congress: it is rather hypocritical to close the doors to negotiation today that people are dying of hunger, because you have already negotiated with us, you have negotiated in Doha, you have signed a bilateral commitment which had an expiry date, August 2021 and which we both respected. You then withdrew the troops, we took power.
Muttaqi reveals an ambiguity that for three months we have pretended not to see in Afghanistan: many of the exponents of the Taliban government still not recognized as legitimate by any country, are the same with whom the Trump administration first and the Biden administration then negotiated for months in Qatar, until the Doha agreement was signed.
Back then, when it came to the withdrawal of Western troops, the Taliban seemed presentable, now that you have to negotiate to feed the people, they seem less so.
Muttaqi writes: “We hope that the members of the American Congress think deeply and consider the problems of our people deriving from the sanctions and do not approach this humanitarian question in a superficial way.”
Translated: first deal with us and then, when we manage a power that you have in fact handed over to us, you no longer help us, turn off the money taps, and use the funds as a means of blackmail to negotiate a more inclusive government.
Meanwhile, people are dying of hunger. Those who survive try to escape.
Last week the Norwegian Refugee Council reported that 300,000 Afghans have fled to Iran since August, and that around 5,000 people continue to cross the border illegally every day, the United Nations World Food Program warned that due to the Consequences of the conflict and prolonged drought, more than half of the country’s estimated population of 40 million people are at risk of famine this coming winter.
According to the latest Red Cross report, more than 22 million Afghans will face acute hunger crisis or emergency levels between November and March 2022.
Despair is plastic in the images of queues in front of banks at 5am in the hope of being able to withdraw some cash. And in those, much more tragic, hospitals.
A senior official of the International Red Cross, Domink Stillhart, spent six days in hospitals in Kandahar, returning home said he was livid with rage: “In the pediatric ward of the largest hospital in Kandahar, you look into the empty eyes of hungry children and the anguished faces of desperate parents. I experienced an absolutely exasperating situation ».
Even more infuriating because it was created by man, as the international community turns the other way. In the pediatric intensive care unit of Kandahar’s Mirwais Hospital, the number of children suffering from malnutrition, pneumonia and dehydration more than doubled from mid-August to September. Severe and moderate global acute malnutrition increased by 31% around Kandahar compared to the same period in 2020.
In the majority of Afghan provinces the severity of child malnutrition is up to three times higher than the emergency level.
Who, then, is really starving Afghan children?
Today donor states ask themselves how to keep together the moral obligation to help Afghans and respect for the grid of values that makes the right to education for girls, women’s political representation, freedom of expression indispensable conditions for negotiations.
It is with enemies that we negotiate, with friends we talk and understand each other.
It is the principle that drives diplomacy, it is the Western impasse in Afghanistan today.
The Taliban know this, as they know that if the US and Europe use the economic blockade as pressure to get a more acceptable government, and they, the Taliban, will use the bugbear of migratory invasion to unlock that same money.
Meanwhile, people are dying of hunger.
One hundred days have passed since the Taliban entered Kabul.
It is time for the West to try to tell this story from another perspective.
The war is over. The Taliban won it. The West has lost it.
And when wars are over, the vanquished are not abandoned, but neither are the victors abandoned if they are starving.
Even if we don’t like them.
Especially if the economic system that today is blocked by sanctions, and supported itself on a welfare system that had made the country dependent on international aid, was built by us, that is, the defeated.
#Afghanistan #knees #hunger #Taliban #release #funds #invasion #migrants