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End the US Sanctions on Afghanistan

Firaas Z. Akbar

Jan 22, 2022

The situation in Afghanistan has returned to mainstream awareness as the country plunges into a major humanitarian crisis, aggravated by several calamitous circumstances. With the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreading unabated worldwide in the backdrop, the country is also experiencing its worst drought in 27 years, combined with freezing winter temperatures and growing food insecurity.

Yet most significantly, the United States government has engaged in a vicious policy to economically suffocate Afghanistan, freezing an estimated $9.5 billion of the Afghanistan central bank’s assets since the Taliban took over the country months ago. This draconian measure serves no cognizable interest of the American people; these are just games aimed at preserving geopolitical dominance over the region by a country that cannot even meet the needs of its own citizens. These combined forces have resulted in widespread poverty, starvation, malnutrition, and death.

The United Nations reports that over 22 million Afghans are food insecure, while another 5.7 million displaced Afghans in neighboring countries also require aid. In conclusion, the UN has recommended that $5 billion in relief aid be sent to avert catastrophe, almost half the amount that the US has currently frozen from the country’s central bank. The United States responded by sending barely over $300 million, a fraction of the amount necessary to adequately address the crisis, and a smaller fraction of the country’s rightful assets that the US refuses to unfreeze.

In short, the US has single-handedly manufactured this humanitarian nightmare, and could end it of its own volition.

Sanctions are a vicious and often deadly assault on working people wherever they are imposed. While mainstream political discourse presents sanctions as a bloodless foreign policy tool posing political inconveniences for the ruling government of a given nation, sanctions wage economic warfare by freezing much-needed financial assets, restricting trade in necessities such as food and medicine, inhibiting the flow of foreign capital into a target country by prohibiting financial institutions from investing in its economy, and similar measures designed to cause instability by inflicting economic misery on its civilians.

Let us make no mistake – sanctions are an act of war. Their ramifications can prove every bit as deadly for targeted countries' civilian populace as military actions, or more (as with Afghanistan right now, presently on the brink of famine). We must support the people of Afghanistan in their time of need, and that means vociferous opposition to the Biden Administration’s acts of economic terrorism against them.

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