Afghans protest US order to give $3.5 billion to 9/11 victims

Placards in English accused the United States of being cruel and of stealing the money of Afghans



AP
AP

By AP

Published: Sat 12 Feb 2022, 5:06 PM

Demonstrators in Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday condemned President Joe Biden’s order freeing up $3.5 billion in Afghan assets held in the US for families of America’s 9/11 victims - saying the money belongs to Afghans.

Protesters who gathered outside Kabul’s grand Eid Gah mosque asked America for financial compensation for the tens of thousands of Afghans killed during the last 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

Biden’s order, signed Friday, allocates another $3.5 billion in Afghan assets for humanitarian aid to a trust fund to be managed by the UN to provide aid to Afghans. The country’s economy is teetering on the brink of collapse after international money stopped coming into Afghanistan with the arrival in mid-August of the Taliban.

Torek Farhadi, a financial adviser to Afghanistan’s former US-backed government, questioned the UN managing Afghan Central Bank reserves. He said those funds are not meant for humanitarian aid but “to back up the country’s currency, help in monetary policy and manage the country’s balance of payment.”

He also questioned the legality of Biden’s order.

“These reserves belong to the people of Afghanistan, not the Taliban ... Biden’s decision is one-sided and does not match with international law,” said Farhadi. “No other country on Earth makes such confiscation decisions about another country’s reserves.”

Afghanistan has about $9 billion in assets overseas, including the $7 billion in the United States.

“What about our Afghan people who gave many sacrifices and thousands of losses of lives?” asked the demonstration’s organiser, Abdul Rahman, a civil society activist.

Rahman said he planned to organize more demonstrations across the capital to protest Biden’s order. “This money belongs to the people of Afghanistan, not to the United States. This is the right of Afghans,” he said.

Misspelled placards in English accused the United States of being cruel and of stealing the money of Afghans.

Taliban political spokesman Mohammad Naeem accused the Biden administration in a tweet late Friday of showing “the lowest level of humanity ... of a country and a nation.”

Still, some analysts took to Twitter to question Biden’s order.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the US-based Wilson Center, called Biden’s order to divert $3.5 billion away from Afghanistan “heartless.”

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“It’s great that $3.5B in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan has been freed up. But to take another $3.5B that belongs to the Afghan people, and divert it elsewhere—that is misguided and quite frankly heartless,” he tweeted.

Kugelman also said the opposition to Biden’s order crossed Afghanistan’s wide political divide.

“I can’t remember the last time so many people of such vastly different worldviews were so united over a US policy decision on Afghanistan,” he tweeted.


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