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A CALL TO ACTION FOR AFGHANISTAN

AFGHANISTAN IS FACING A HISTORIC HUMANITARIAN DISASTER

After 20 years and trillions of dollars spent, in 2021, the U.S. withdrew support from the Afghan government created by America. The end result was that the Afghan government totally and completely fell apart. When the Taliban swept into power back in August 2021, world governments cut off Afghanistan’s access to international funding. The U.S. government, along with the Federal Reserve and global allied partners also froze the Afghan central bank’s roughly $10 billion in assets held abroad in a bid to stop the Taliban from accessing that money. $7 Billion of that were held in accounts with the New York Federal Reserve and other financial institutions on U.S. soil. This has led to the Afghan economy's collapse.

Afghanistan is currently experiencing a humanitarian disaster. Millions are facing hunger and disease. Poverty has increased. The head of the World Food Programme describes the situation as “hell on earth.”

And amidst all this, the U.S. refuses to give back $7 billion dollars of Afghanistan's money, ignoring calls from the UN to do otherwise. President Joe Biden’s refusal over the past year to allow Afghanistan's central bank access to its own reserves has caused an economic crisis that has pushed most of the population into extreme poverty and malnutrition.

 

"AFGHAN FUND" OR SHELL GAME?

Update September 22, 2022: The Biden Administration still refuses to give the Afghan people direct access to their money. Instead they've developed a plan (for half the money), that some have described as a "shell game."

The Biden Administration has recently worked with Switzerland and Afghan economists to set up a new fund, the "Afghan Fund," claiming they have plans to put $3.5 billion of the stolen money back into Afghanistan's economy. However, U.S. officials state that the money won’t be released imminently to an institution in Afghanistan because there is no trusted institution to guarantee the funds will benefit the Afghan people (CNN, 9-14-22). Instead, the money will be administered by an outside body, independent of the Taliban and the country’s central bank.

Economist Andrés Arauz describes Biden’s plan as a “terrible idea.” (Center for Economic and Policy Research). He says further below:

"The decision to block the Afghan central bank from accessing its reserves — reserves that ultimately belong to people and businesses — has directly and significantly contributed to the current humanitarian crisis... the facts are simple. The Biden administration has chosen to seize and privatize Afghanistan’s reserves; it does not contribute to restoring its core central banking functions... A working economy requires a functioning central bank, and a functioning central bank requires total access to its foreign reserves. To help end “hell on earth,” the Biden administration should release the full $7 billion directly to the central bank of Afghanistan (Center for Economic and Policy Research)."

Also, this amount of money is only half the money that was stolen from Afghanistan. The Afghan people are in a state of crisis. They need to get all of their money back as soon as possible.

 

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO GIVE BILLIONS

OF AFGHANISTAN'S MONEY TO LAWYER CLAIMING TO REPRESENT 9/11 VICTIMS

What will happen to the other half of Afghanistan's money?

One of the most insane plans announced by Team Biden a couple months back is to permanently seize Afghanistan's assets and use $3.5 billion of it on 9/11 victims. "Critics were quick to denounce the move as cruel, given that the Afghan people themselves had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks that took place over two decades ago—and that those living in one of the poorest nations in the world should not be punished for the criminal acts of a small group of individuals, most of them from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. With the nation on the verge of collapse, economists have warned permanent seizure of these funds that otherwise could stabilize the Afghan central bank would further spell disaster for the nation's economy (Common Dreams, 2-11-22).

 

PLEAS FROM GLOBAL ECONOMISTS AND THE UNITED NATIONS TO RETURN STOLEN FUNDS

On August 29th, 2022, the United Nations aid chief led calls for a resumption of the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan that ended after the Taliban reconquered the war-ravaged nation one year ago—pleas that came as millions of Afghans face famine and the Biden administration continues to refuse to return billions of dollars in frozen funds. (United Nations, 8-29-22)

Also, 70+ economists Say US Must Return $7 Billion Stolen From Afghan People. Read Letter Here PDF

U.N. officials said the situation is intensifying at an unprecedented rate. Over 22 million people, more than half the country’s population, are facing crisis-levels of hunger, the majority of them unable to guarantee when their next meal is going to be, according to the U.N. World Food Program. This marks a dramatic increase since September, when more than 14 million people were at risk of going hungry. The organization also estimated that in December, 95 percent of the population had insufficient food consumption, adopting measures to cope with their situation by skipping a meal, for example. Since October 2020, when drought struck Afghanistan, the situation has continued to get worse. (Washington Post, 1-24-22)

 

COVID CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN

The current crisis in Afghanistan is being exacerbated by Covid. A Covid surge is battering Afghanistan's crumbling health care system. Between January 30 and February 5, nearly half of the total samples tested in Afghanistan were positive for COVID-19. The trouble is that only five hospitals in Afghanistan still offer COVID-19 treatment, with 33 others having been forced to close in recent months for lack of doctors, medicines and even heating. Currently, barely 27 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people have been vaccinated, most of them with the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine (Aljazeera, 2-10-22).

 

THE AFGHAN PEOPLE NOW FACE MASS STARVATION

The combined shocks of having their assets frozen along with drought, conflict and COVID-19 have left more than half the population of Afghanistan facing a record level of acute hunger, according to a new UN assessment published on October 25th, 2021.

The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), revealed that the lives, livelihoods and access to food for 22.8 million people will be severely impacted.

According to the United Nations, at least $660 million is needed to help Afghanistan through it's current economic crisis. (United Nations, 10-21-21). We would add that much more is probably needed than that. This is probably the minimum required.

The United States has announced $144 million in humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan (USAID). However, there are stipulations attached to this offer that put the feasibility of the aid in question.

THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN IS FAR FROM OVER

It may be tempting for some in America to say, "This is now Afghanistan's problem. We have pulled out." However, it's very important to understand that the Afghan crisis for America is far from over. America is still interfering in the lives of the people of Afghanistan, since they have seized $10 billion of their money.

And according to Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan who writes for the Washington Post, "the Biden administration must release the lion’s share of almost $10 billion it has frozen of Afghanistan’s federal reserves, vital to restart the economy. It is counterintuitive to expect sanctions to incentivize autocratic states to change their behavior." He goes on to say that sanctions will cause more problems than they will solve, leading to further collapse and chaos.

AFGHANISTAN'S CRISIS COULD SPILL INTO PAKISTAN

It is also important for America to understand that what happens in Afghanistan does not stay in Afghanistan. It also affects Pakistan, a nuclear state. Pakistan and Afghanistan are more connected than westerners realize. The Durand Line, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is a creation of western imperialism, not of the people who actually live there. In Afghanistan and Pakistan there are Pashtun populations on both sides of the border.

The extreme religious movements in Pakistan and Afghanistan are very tightly connected. So religious movements in Afghanistan influence Pakistan and vice versa.

So what is to come? What's to come if things don't change is huge political turmoil in Afghanistan leading to more death and more chaos, which is all going to spill over into Pakistan, virtually 100% and fuel more religious extremism in Pakistan against a nuclear state. Why is this going to happen? Because the Taliban government that came to power in Kabul is a very weak government as a coalition of militias and it is very unclear that this government has the power to control the whole country and to enforce order. The only hope they would have of doing that is to have the financial resources to do so.

 

WHAT TO DO?

ACTION IS REQUIRED TO PREVENT MASS DEATH

AID CANNOT WAIT

So what to do? The first thing that America needs to do is to stop intervening in Afghanistan and let the Afghan people have their money.

We understand this is a highly controversial issue because of the Taliban. There's a controversy about whether the Taliban government does or does not represent the Afghan people. But even with that fact considered, at least a large part of the $10 billion, needs to be released.

Specifically, around $2 billion of that needs to be released soon. The alternative is chaos and death leading to more religious extremism and war—not less.

It is our hope this can be negotiated in a manner that respects human rights. But the bottom line is that this is needed to avoid future violence.


REPORTS

Afghanistan IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis: 23 Million Face Starvation (Issued in October 2021)

 

PETITION

Sign-On Letter: Preventing Famine and Rescinding Executive Order on Afghanistan’s frozen funds (Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, 3-1-22)

 

THE "AFGHAN FUND"

US sets up fund to distribute frozen billions to Afghanistan (CNN, 9-14-22)

The US Response to the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis: Seize and Privatize (Center for Economic and Policy Research, 9-15-22)

Biden’s Afghan Shell Game Prompts Media Shrugs and Stenography (Scheerpost, 9-22-22)

 

UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR AID TO AFGHANISTAN

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths Remarks on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan (United Nations, 8-29-22)

$667 million funding call to help Afghans through economic crisis (United Nations, 10-21-21)

 

U.S. PLEDGES AID TO AFGHANISTAN

The United States Announces More Than $144 Million in Additional Humanitarian Assistance for Afghanistan (USAID, 10-28-21)

 

COVID

Photos: COVID surge batters Afghanistan’s crumbling healthcare (Aljazeera, 2-10-22)

 

BIDEN'S PLANS TO GIVE BILLIONS OF AFGHANISTAN'S ASSETS TO

LAWYER OF 9/11 VICTIMS

Biden’s Afghanistan Counsel Left the White House in January. Now He’s Poised to Reap Financial Windfall From Billions in Seized Afghan Assets. (The Intercept, 2-15-22)

'Death Sentence for Untold Numbers of Civilians': Biden to Permanently Seize Afghan Assets (Common Dreams, 2-11-22)

Biden proposes splitting billions in Afghanistan funds between 9/11 victims and humanitarian aid (Washington Post, 2-11-22)

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Unfreeze Afghanistan   About Unfreeze Afghanistan


OTHER NEWS STORIES

US kills al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in drone strike in Afghanistan (CNN, 8-1-22)

How U.S. efforts to rebuild Afghanistan backfired (The Washington Post)

Karzai: Biden order on frozen funds ‘atrocity against Afghans’ (Aljazeera, 2-14-22)

Afghanistan Taliban Takeover (Washington Post, 2022)

A Journey To an Afghan Region Where the Taliban’s Grip Hasn’t Taken Hold (Spiegel International, 8-15-22)

Representative Jayapal Forces Vote on Biden's Strangling of Afghan Economy (The Intercept, 2-3-22)

Jayapal’s provision, drafted with Rep. Jesús García, D-Ill., would require the secretary of the Treasury to provide Congress with an assessment of the humanitarian suffering caused by U.S. sanctions on Afghanistan,

and its confiscation of the country’s foreign-held money.

Jayapal's Amendment (PDF)

 

Afghanistan faces widespread hunger amid worsening humanitarian crisis (The Washington Post, 1-24-22)

Over 22 million people, more than half the country’s population, are facing crisis-levels of hunger, the majority of them unable to guarantee when their next meal is going to be, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

 

What my 20 years in Afghanistan taught me about the Taliban – and how the west consistently underestimates them (The Conversation, 11-30-21)

The author of this article, Sippi Azarbaijani Moghaddam, writes about her 20 years spent in Afghanistan.

She writes on how the West repeatedly fails to understand the Afghan people.

   

Afghanistan on ‘countdown to catastrophe’ without urgent humanitarian relief (UN News, 10-25-21)

How turmoil in Afghanistan has impacted agriculture — a vital part of its livelihood (NPR, 10-25-21)

Opinion: Without the U.S. releasing billions in assets, Afghans will continue to sink into desperation (The Washington Post, 11-2-21)

Afghanistan is facing the ‘worst humanitarian disaster we’ve ever seen,’ the UN says (CNBC, 11-12-21)