Taliban rules pose moral and financial dilemma for aid agencies

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File photo: The logo of the International Monetary Fund is seen outside the headquarters during the IMF-World Bank spring conference in Washington, U.S. on April 20, 2018. REUTERS / YuriGripas / Photo archive

August 24, 2021

David Charger

Washington (Reuters) – A decisive question has emerged as foreign governments, aid agencies and businesses struggle to evacuate personnel from Afghanistan: Should they be involved with the dominant Taliban or 3800 with the country? Should everyone abandon their long-standing investment in Afghanistan?

Last week, the Taliban promised peaceful relations with other countries, women’s rights and independent media, but some former diplomats and academics said Islamic extremist groups were more than the Taliban in the 1990s. He said he was familiar with the media and the internet, but was just as blunt.

The Taliban banned women from working and girls from school and killed or injured https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghan-stadium/taliban-executions-still-haunt-afghan-soccer- field- idUSSP12564220080913 Opponent in public. Al-Qaeda, which attempted Sept. 11, 2001, also hijacked an airstrike on New York and Washington that sparked US-led aggression.

Robert Cruz, professor of history at Stanford University and author of the 2015 book Afghan Modern: The History of a Global Nation, said the situation represents a “paradox” for foreign aid agencies. Declared.

“If you are an aid worker in a public hospital, you are serving a system of balanced legitimacy,” he said. “But if everyone goes home, will the nation collapse?” ”

Michael McKinley, Ambassador of Afghanistan for 2015 and 2016, said the Afghan government budget is 70% to 80% funded by international donors, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). paddy field.

The country is facing an economic collapse without its help.

“The Taliban will need significant external funding unless they step aside to bring government down to a minimum between 1996 and 2001,” said McKinley, a current consultant for the Cohen Group. .. “Living far from drug trafficking has not allowed them to retain power. “

Some warn that the failure of international engagement with the Taliban could pose an even more serious crisis. “There’s a great temptation to unplug and go, but it happened in 1989 and 9/11 happened 12 years later,” said Daniel Lunde, development expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Washington. I am.

Billion invested

Foreign governments and humanitarian organizations have evacuated thousands of people, many of whom are left behind on billion-dollar projects thanks to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. (Charts: US spending on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, 2002-2021, https: //graphics.reuters.com/AFGHANISTAN-CONFLICT/ENGAGEMENT/zgvommnmlvd/chart.png)

The United States has allocated $ 145 billion for the reconstruction of Afghanistan since 2002 at https://graphics.reuters.com/AFGHANISTAN-CONFLICT/ENGAGEMENT/zgvommnmlvd/chart.png. Report of July 30 https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/ Quarterly reports of the Special Inspector General of Afghanistan for Reconstruction / 2021-07-30qr.pdf View.

(Graphics: major donors to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund; https: //graphics.reuters.com/AFGHANISTAN-CONFLICT/ENGAGEMENT/myvmnnaldpr/chart.png)

The World Bank has donated more than $ 2 billion to fund 27 active projects in Afghanistan, from horticulture to automated payment systems. This is part of the $ 5.3 billion or more that development lenders have spent to develop and rebuild the country.

On Friday, a flight from Kabul landed in Islamabad with 350 people evacuated, including employees of the World Bank Group and other international organizations. An internal World Bank memo, viewed by Reuters, confirmed that Kabul-based staff, including Afghan employees, had evacuated with their immediate families.

“Our work in Afghanistan was important for the development of the region as a whole, and we hope that if the situation stabilizes we can have a positive impact,” wrote President David Malpas.

The group said in a statement that the Asian Development Bank, which also has a large company in Afghanistan, “promises to support the economic and social development of Afghanistan.”

Myanmar, which was hit by a military coup last year, has some similarities. In February, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund suspended all payments and projects there. It continues to freeze, despite the worsening national COVID-19 epidemic.

Both organizations said they held a dominant stake in both, guided by their members, when faced with such sudden changes of government.

The IMF suspended access to Afghanistan’s endowment resources, including some $ 440 million in new foreign exchange reserves allocated by the IMF on Monday, due to uncertainties in member states’ perceptions of the Afghan government.

Businesses, including major U.S. social media companies and natural resource groups, are divided https://www.reuters.com/technology/youtube-says-it-bans-accounts-believed-be-owned-by -taliban-2021-08 -17 A microcosm of the larger contradictions in the way the Taliban is treated and the way the international community classifies groups.

“We should take a statement from the Taliban leadership at face value,” CSIS Lunde argues. “They will have to prove that they are serious about this.”

Ryan Crocker, who served as Afghanistan’s ambassador from 2011 to 2012 and sharply criticized the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, said trusting the Taliban was not an option.

“The Taliban will take back control and bring in al Qaeda allies,” Crocker said in a blog post on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website. “This is not a fictitious security threat. These are the groups that provoked September 11, during which time they did not become kinder and calm. ”

(Report by David Lawder and Elizabeth Culliford, Supplementary Report by Andrea Shalal, edited by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool)


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