Biden to split $7 billion in Afghan funds held in US for humanitarian aid and victims of terrorism

President Joe Biden signed a Executive Decree last Friday which restarts the process of donating a portion of frozen American assets belonging to Afghanistan for the benefit of the Afghan people and donating the other half to American victims of terrorism, in particular the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by Al- Quaïda.

In a statement released by the White House, he said the US government intended to access and transfer $3.5 billion in assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Central Bank (DAB), held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for aid and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, whose citizens are currently experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history.

As the Taliban took control of the country after the disastrous US withdrawal in August, millions of Afghans now face starvation, with 50% of the population in extreme poverty. The remaining population is expected to live in poverty by mid-2022. The Taliban takeover has also weakened and weakened its economy, with a 30% contraction from pre-takeover levels. The Council on Foreign Relations reported that only 2% of Afghans have enough food, with 3 million children malnourished and plagued by a crumbling healthcare system that was largely dependent on foreign aid. Public executions and the decline of human rights in the country have also had negative effects on the quality of life of the majority of the Afghan population.

A malnourished Afghan child is treated at a hospital in Kandahar (AFP/Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Asia Times).

At this time, no transfer of funds will take place, and the money will not be immediately released as a federal court in New York is expected to authorize the transfer. If the transfer is successful and cleared and approved by a federal court in New York, $3.5 billion of the $9 billion in frozen Afghan funds (of which $7 billion is in the Federal Reserve), it will be without no doubt beneficial to the Afghan people. who starve every day. However, this decision could ultimately backfire, as it could help the Taliban consolidate their power.

“Any increased aid to Afghanistan risks being accused of consolidating the ruling Taliban and weakening their leverage to influence their behavior,” former US Ambassador to Afghanistan P. Michael McKinley said.

The other half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan funds will be allocated to US citizens who were victims of terrorist attacks, including the attacks of September 11, 2001. Although a human life cannot be quantified with only l money, these funds can be distributed to the families of the victims as monetary compensation for their loss. Likewise, a federal court in New York is expected to approve the transfer because Afghan assets are still frozen.

“We have $7 billion in assets in the United States belonging to a country where there is no government that we recognize… We are acting responsibly to ensure that some of this money can be used for the benefit of the people of this country,” said Jack Quinn. in an interview with Defense One.

On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem condemned the planned embezzlement as the “stealing” of money by the United States, saying: “The stealing of blocked funds from the Afghan nation by the United States of America and its seizure [of those funds] shows the lowest level of humanity… of a country and a nation.

There is a valid argument that the money held in the US Federal Reserve belongs to US taxpayers anyway. According to the White House website, “Since 2002, the United States has provided nearly $88 billion in security assistance, $36 billion in civilian assistance, including $787 million specifically to support Afghan women and girls, and nearly $3.9 billion in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Mohammad Naeem also tweeted an open letter to President Joe Biden stating that the 9/11 attacks were not perpetrated by Afghans and pointed out that Osama Bin Laden (originally from Saudi Arabia) had been living in military custody in Pakistan for ten years. He further added that their nation had stood with the United States in its war on terrorism, where thousands of Afghans had been killed.

The Pakistani government had also questioned President Biden’s decision to set aside half of Afghan assets for victims of the September 11 attacks, saying the use of Afghan assets should be its own sovereign decision. He then called for the return of the frozen funds to the Taliban-controlled government.

The public expressed their concerns and thoughts about it on social media, leaving them divided on the subject. Some say the Afghan people did not commit 9/11; thus, they don’t have to pay any part of their money to the victims of the terrorist attack. Some also think that the victims of September 11 deserve this money because they were victims of terrorists.

Regardless, whether or not the United States returns Afghan funds worth $3.5 billion to Afghanistan, the United States remains the largest donor of humanitarian aid to that country. , providing nearly $475 million in humanitarian assistance in 2021. These donations are channeled through independent humanitarian organizations. who provide food, water and health care in Afghanistan. The United States also recently donated an additional one million COVID-19 vaccines to the Taliban-controlled country, bringing the total United States donation to 4.3 million doses.

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