The tragic events of September 11, 2001 changed our world permanently. Although those who staged those events have not yet been identified, Washington unequivocally declared a “war on terror”, directed at the overthrow of Al Qaeda (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) and the Taliban regime (banned in Russia), supported by American satellites. But it is also common knowledge that al-Qaeda was created by the CIA with the money from the monarchical regimes of the Persian Gulf to actively oppose the Soviet forces, who were the actual fighters against terrorism.
As time passed, the United States no longer needed the boogeyman who had done the dirty work for Washington, hence the decision was made to “destroy” al-Qaeda by “pinning” the tragic events of 9/11 on it. However, this war was only proclaimed on paper, and it was never won, as the US still needed a tool to continuously threaten states in the Middle East region. At the same time, Washington, while carrying out its aggressive plans, occupied Afghanistan for 20 years in a mean and cynical manner, in violation of all international norms, and took no real action there, except for increasing poppy crops and then helping the Taliban to transport drugs from that Asian country.
Misery and hunger became commonplace for Afghans during this period. Many left their country in search of security or better opportunities, whether as a result of the US invasion, during the brazen arbitrariness of the US and its satellites for 20 years, or after the return of the Taliban and their seizure of power. The wounds of that day for the Afghan people remain open till this very moment, and one wonders who will answer for all this and make up for the huge losses suffered by the Afghans. As you can see, the US and its allies are in no hurry to do so and, moreover, are trying to pay with Afghan money for the victims of the sad events of 9/11, which the Afghan people had nothing to do with.
Twenty years later, the American style of “nation building” clearly failed in Afghanistan. And such a deafening collapse was documented when the West rushed to pack up and hastily evacuate Afghanistan last August, leaving the country facing its worst humanitarian crisis. As international organisations struggled to find the necessary funds to feed the starving Afghans, President Joe Biden found no other solution than to seize assets belonging to the previous Afghan government. The US Democrat has solemnly signed an executive order dividing the Afghan funds between the victims of the September 11 attacks and much needed help for Afghanistan in rebuilding the country.
When the Afghan government collapsed last August, and the Taliban took control of the country, the US quickly froze the assets of Afghanistan’s Central Bank. The idea was to prevent any use of resources by the Taliban government. Very few Afghans knew much about such assets and their value until they were frozen. It was later revealed that the frozen amount was about $9 billion, of which $7 billion were deposited in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the rest was in European banks. The reason why the former Afghan government chose the US Federal Bank was the institution’s high credibility and prestige around the world. The recent decision by the US government to allocate half of those $7 billion it had frozen to compensate the families of 9/11 victims and use the rest for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan came as a big shock to Afghans around the world.
Ever since the US government froze these assets, the Taliban have been constantly calling for their release. Few people in Afghanistan know the actual purpose of the precious currency reserves held outside the country. Many believe that these assets serve as reserve funds to help the Afghan government in times of extreme need or emergency when alternative means of financing become unavailable. While governments have the right to use such funds in extreme situations and financial emergencies, this should only be done as a last resort. The actual purpose of these hard-earned foreign exchange reserves is to ensure the stability of Afghanistan’s central bank and the monetary discipline of the value of afghani, the national currency.
The US government’s decision to divide the assets has caused a sense of grief and despair among Afghans all over the world. They are surprised that the de facto rulers of Afghanistan are legally linked to the people of the country, who are the real owners of these assets. The vast majority of Afghans believe that these funds belong to them and the whole country. The Taliban have called this move, ordered by “great democrat” Joe Biden on Afghanistan, “theft”, which reflects the lowest level of “moral decay”. Many Afghans also criticised the US action, saying it was “unfair and vile”. Even former Afghan President Hamid Karzai reminded Washington that Afghans were also victims of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s past and called on the American president to reverse his unjust edict. But he did not question who was likely to compensate the Afghans for their colossal losses as a result of the illegal occupation by the US and NATO and the arbitrariness that the occupiers had perpetrated on Afghan soil.
The Taliban, who fought insurgent warfare against the US-led forces for 20 years and now control the entire country, have not been recognised by the US or any other country, mainly because of their human rights abuses. However, with abject poverty gripping the country, not only is Washington not helping the Afghans, it is looking for different ways to further rob them. It plans to put $3.5 billion in frozen funds into a special fund to support people affected by 9/11, at least for now, as the cost of supporting the claimants is estimated at $10 billion over the next 10 years alone. Compensation, reparation and ensuring that victims and their families are well taken care of is a legitimate right in international relations. President Biden’s decision to release frozen Afghan assets will naturally be welcomed in a midterm election year in America, but it is very difficult to understand why the assets of poor and destitute Afghans are being used to supplement the US compensation scheme. It also begs the question: what have the Afghans got to do with it, if, as the US media itself reported, the Saudis were the terrorists. Let them pay compensation to the victims of Saudi terrorists. This is the law, and everyone must obey it, including the US leadership.
The irony is that 20 years after 9/11, the bleeding wounds remain open both for the American victims, as a result of Washington’s mindlessly aggressive policies, and for the Afghan people, who have suffered for some 20 years under the oppression of occupation by the US and NATO forces. The US federal government seems to have failed to find a suitable funding mechanism for victims to extend this compensation scheme to those who deserve it, so it uses Afghan funds instead. Similarly, the Taliban last year rushed to seize control of Afghanistan by quietly and simply expelling foreign forces, primarily Americans. But they did not take into account how to finance their rise to power or their responsibility to provide basic necessities to all Afghans, where to find money to rebuild the country, after the plundering of its national wealth by the US.
In this difficult environment, the new Afghan government, trying to find a way out of the economic crisis, decided to step up efforts to rebuild relations with the rich Gulf States. In this context, a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) delegation met for the first time in Qatar with Afghan representatives. Representatives of individual GCC member states had previously met with the Taliban in various capacities, mainly to discuss the delivery of humanitarian aid, security and logistics. While the very fact that a meeting like the one in Doha was a remarkable event in itself, participants were able to exchange valuable information and deliver important messages.
Ironically, since the end of the war in Afghanistan, the country has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis by the US and NATO due to economic isolation, depleted financial resources and an inability to provide basic social services. At a meeting in Doha, GCC officials stressed the importance of addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of the Afghan people as international reports reflected the grim reality. According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Afghanistan is facing the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with needs exceeding those of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Tens of millions of lives are at stake. The WFP has found that 22.8 million people are at acute risk, while 8.7 million face extreme levels of hunger, indicating a serious risk of widespread hunger. The UN estimates that 97% of Afghans could fall into poverty before the end of 2022.
Afghanistan is now trying every way possible to establish a peaceful life and provide basic livelihoods for the Afghan people. And a number of countries have come to the aid of this Asian country, with the exception of the United States, which is still trying to rob poverty-stricken Afghans, using their frozen money for its own selfish interests.