Britain to press G7 to take tough stance against Taliban

US president says he will support British calls for sanctions if Taliban commit abuses

Taliban fighters in Kabul. Photograph: Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

Taliban fighters in Kabul. Photograph: Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

 

The crisis in Afghanistan is set to top the agenda of the virtual G7 summit on Tuesday with discussion of co-ordinated evacuations, humanitarian assistance for refugees and Britain’s call for the imposition of sanctions on the Taliban in the wake of its conquest of Afghanistan.

According to an unidentified British official quoted by Reuters, Britain holds that the group of seven advanced economies – which includes the US, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada – should also withhold aid if the Taliban commit human rights violations and permit Afghanistan to become a base for radicals.

Asked if he would support the British call for sanctions if the Taliban committed abuses, US president Joe Biden said: “The answer is yes. It depends on the conduct [of the Taliban].”

Dealings with the Taliban are complicated as they were designated a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council in 1999. They have not been so designated by the US, however, and the US Congressional Research Service wrote on August 17th that this “may inform assessments of US policy”.

So far Washington has adopted a tough approach. As the Afghan economy, which tripled in size since the Taliban last ruled, has edged towards crisis, the US froze $9 billion-$10 billion in Afghan central bank funds deposited in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and halted shipments of dollars and the delivery of about $1 billion in humanitarian aid allocated for 2021. Other foreign aid pledged in 2020 has been suspended.

The International Monetary Fund withheld a payment of $460 million due last month.

Grant dependency

Hard currencies no longer flow into Afghanistan following the departure of foreign forces, embassies, some humanitarian agencies and businesses. The value of the currency has fallen to record lows.

The World Bank reports the economy still depends on foreign grants to finance 75 per cent of public spending while the Congressional Research Service said that this year 90 per cent of Afghans were living on less than $2 a day and warned against withdrawing US support.

The Taliban cannot run the country on the revenues it gets from opium smuggling, extortion, transit dues and taxes, as well as reported central bank holdings of only $362 million and $160 million in gold bars and silver coins.

Fearing the consequences of collapse, the World Food Programme, which still operates in Afghanistan, has launched an emergency appeal for funds: “Currently, one in three people are hungry and two million children are malnourished. With drought, pandemic and conflict, the food security situation will continue to worsen, and hunger will rise,” it said.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.