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Tuesday July 05, 2022

The great Biden robbery

February 28, 2022

The richest country in the world is stealing from the poorest country in the world and giving the money to its own people. These were the words of the Chinese when news broke that the Biden Administration, following the catastrophic exit from Afghanistan six months ago is now keen on redistributing at least half of the frozen assets of the beleaguered country to 9/11 victims’ families. Egregious is too small a word to describe the callousness, cold-heartedness, and selfishness at display here.

Let us run the numbers. There are $7 billion in frozen assets that belong to the Afghan people. This money is now critically needed as the country faces acute economic collapse. Da Afghanistan Bank, the country’s state bank, is entirely at the mercy of the US system, which speaks volumes about the command and control the US has to completely choke the country’s financial pipelines.

The assets are frozen because the Taliban are still designated as a terror organisation. This, despite the fact that not only have US officials been working in close coordination with the Taliban for the last several years, particularly during the Kabul evacuations, but they have formally negotiated with the group for years and signed the peace deal in Doha on February 29, 2020. This agreement alone is tacit acceptance that the US recognises the Taliban as a legitimate political force in Afghanistan.

It would have been one thing if the funds had been frozen pending some investigation or recognition of the Taliban at the international stage. Neither has happened. It is worth mentioning that if an executive order signed by President Biden can disburse the Afghan’s lifeline to 9/11 families, then another could simply unfreeze said assets and provide the relief desperately needed in a country facing drought, the Covid-19 pandemic, food insecurity, and human insecurity.

So immoral is this decision by the administration that it has come under criticism by 9/11 victims’ families themselves.

Afghanistan’s economy needs urgent and desperate revival. With no incoming cash, and limited transactions further exacerbated by the freezing of the foreign funds, ordinary Afghans are struggling to make ends meet. When I spoke to a recent youth contingent from Afghanistan visiting Pakistan in mid-February 2022, I was harrowed to hear the measures being taken by some to merely survive.

The stories are depressing, gut-wrenching, and necessitated entirely because the most powerful country in the world was willing to spend $130 billion annually for 20 years to sustain the war effort, but is unwilling to disburse the already designated $7 which will dramatically improve the conditions on the ground.

This is a modern international robbery, masterminded under the guise of ‘what is consistent with our country’s laws and values’. This is precisely how Guantanamo Bay was constructed. It was given a loophole of a legal cover by courts. It goes without saying that the most horrifying example of laws being used to subjugate a people is the Holocaust, which at the time was legal under German law.

The Afghans have suffered enough. They have borne the brunt of invasions, bombings, infighting, and insurgencies for 43 years. They have faced off against famine, shortages of medicine and essential health services, lack of schools and education infrastructure. They have survived competing geopolitical interests, fringe groups, proxy terrorism, systemic corruption, and miserable leaders. It is time to give Afghanistan a break.

The Taliban are difficult, obtuse, hard-headed, and unpalatable. They are also the power in Afghanistan, irrespective of whether the international community accepts it, understands it, or agrees with it. The vast majority of international powers are already deeply engaged with the Taliban leadership across a wide variety of verticals. The matter of formal recognition is practically laughable now. There needs to be a mechanism to interact with them. The fact that six months after the fall of Ghani’s government, there exists no such mechanism despite the world’s best minds working the problem exhibits a lack of will, not a lack of ability or need.

The rich steal from the poor and give to the rich all the time. In fact, that is America’s favourite pastime. But undoubtedly, this is now the most callous example, at the international stage no less, of the antithesis of the legend of Robin Hood, where the leader of the ‘free world’ steals from the poorest nation on earth and redistributes it casually to his own. For shame, Mr. President, for shame.

The writer serves as a research fellow at the Center for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad, and is a freelance journalist. He tweets @zeesalahuddin and can be reached at:

zeeshan.salahuddin@gmail.com

Comments

    Khurshid Anwar commented 4 months ago

    USA not only steals,it robs and is involved in armed robberies and mass killing.I hope the Ukraine crisis will keep it busy for a while.The third wold in general and the Muslims in particular will also be spared for that long.

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