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UN Chief Calls For Aid For Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan
But what will the Taliban do with the money?
By Hugh Fitzgerald
The Taliban has failed to uphold its promises to bring a “new and improved” version of its former rule to Afghanistan. It said it would not punish those who had worked for the previous regime, but we have all seen the pictures of Afghan soldiers, interpreters, and officials subject to summary execution for having collaborated with the American Infidels. The Taliban said women could continue to work, but has since forced them all to leave their workplaces and return home. The Taliban also assured the world that Afghan girls would be able to continue their educations. That promise, too, proved hollow: girls have been sent home, and their schools closed down.
It is the broken promises made to Afghan women and girl that have received the most attention from the outside world. A report on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ criticism of their treatment by the Taliban is here: “UN chief slams ‘broken’ Taliban promises made to women, girls,” Al Jazeera, October 11, 2021:
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has slammed the Taliban’s “broken” promises to Afghan women and girls, and urged the world to inject cash into Afghanistan in order to prevent its economic collapse.
“I am particularly alarmed to see promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban being broken,” he told reporters on Monday in New York….
“Millions of teenage girls across Afghanistan still await a return to school, while the Taliban allowed boys to attend classes last month. The move has raised concerns about the future of female education under the Taliban, who have pledged to uphold the rights of girls and women in the country when they took over power in August.’…
In his address, Guterres also urged the international community to “inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse.”
“We need to find ways to help the economy breathe again … And this can be done without violating international laws,” he said….
Guterres is alarmed by the Taliban, yet he calls on the “international community” to send more aid to the country – which apparently means providing it to the ruling Taliban to distribute, as he does not mention other possible distributors, such as international aid agencies and NGOs. Thanks to such aid, the Taliban will continue to be propped up, and manage — just — to stay in power. And the Taliban will have no incentive to reform if it knows that no matter what promises it breaks, as long as it can claim the Afghan people are impoverished, donors will feel guilty if they do not provide aid, even though this helps the Taliban — the main source of Afghan misery — to remain in power.
There are other ways to raise money for the people of Afghanistan without digging again into our own pockets. One is for the American government to claw back as much as it can of the aid money that has already been provided, with much of it having been stolen by Afghan officials over the past two decades, and to distribute that money to poor Afghans directly, through international aid agencies, including the U.N. and the Red Crescent, rather than giving it to the Taliban to distribute. A lot of money has been stolen by corrupt Afghan officials at every level of government. Former President Ashraf Ghani, for example, when he fled Kabul one step ahead of the Taliban, took with him $169 million in cash; that is money that had been provided by American taxpayers, and that Ghani stole from the Afghan treasury. Ghani is not alone. Former President Hamid Karzai claims to have a net worth of $20,000, but the Americans have said that he has $20 million stashed away, which could only have come from one source: American aid. Hamed Wardak, the son of Afghanistan’s former Defense Minister, recently purchased outright a $24.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills, having previously bough a $5.6 million house in Miami. Where do you think such sums have come from, if not from his father? The American government should be able to find a way to recover this money, and much more — hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars, in real estate, stocks, and bank accounts in the West — from many hundreds of corrupt Afghan officials and their relatives. All of this could be distributed to the people of Afghanistan
Aid to Afghanistan could also be given not outright, but only in exchange for the Taliban allowing us to go in and retrieve the American military equipment that had been left behind in Afghanistan in the confused and hasty withdrawal from Kabul this past August. The Taliban’s primitive fighters will have trouble using much of that advanced equipment, and in properly maintaining it, and could therefore be persuaded to give it back, in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Afghans.
Whatever aid is given to Afghanistan – whether it is clawed-back from crooked Afghan officials, or provided from the amounts given to ransom American weapons – should wherever possible be given to reputable international aid agencies and NGOs to distribute, rather than being entrusted to the Taliban for distribution. This will avoid having the Taliban being given credit for having obtained the aid, and make it harder, too, for the Taliban to take its own cut from the aid.
Finally, any further aid to Afghanistan should be made dependent on the Taliban keeping the promises it made in August. No more hunting down and executing of Afghan soldiers, interpreters, and others who worked with the Americans. And the Taliban must allow Afghan women to go back to work, and girls to go back to school. Otherwise, the West will cease to fund Afghanistan, and an impoverished people, having nothing more to lose, are then likely to rise up in protest at the Taliban’s corruption, mismanagement, and vindictiveness.
Image Credit: © Palinchak