A former teacher lost her job when the Taliban took over. Due to harsh sanctions and a collapsing economy, she now shines shoes to survive. – Socialist Freedom Party / Reuters / Ali Khara
TWO weeks before the last US and NATO troops leave Afghanistan on August 30, 2021, President Biden imposed a freeze on Afghan central bank reserves held in US and European banks. The freeze deprived Afghanistan of $9.5 billion of its own public money, expanding sanctions already imposed on the Taliban.
The World Bank has suspended lending for a variety of development projects. The International Monetary Fund has stopped about $460 million in emergency reserves. Germany has suspended more than half a billion dollars in funding. This in a country where three quarters of public expenditure is financed by subsidies.
Although barely covered by the US evening news, Afghanistan cannot import and export goods, collect taxes or pay civil servants since the withdrawal of US and NATO forces. Residents cannot withdraw their money from bank deposits. Hospitals are running out of drugs.
The United States of America and all of its allies in this devastating war must immediately end the crippling cash freeze and sanctions.
War by other means. Who suffers the most from these imperialist tactics? The workers, the women, the poor, the badly paid soldiers, the old and infirm, and especially the very young. By the end of 2021, at least one million children were at risk of starvation. In September 2021, the World Health Organization declared that the Afghan health system was on the verge of collapse. Hunger is at 95% and unemployment at 70%. Given this starting point, a United Nations report from December 2, 2021 predicts that more than 24 million Afghans out of a population of 38 million will need lifesaving assistance in 2022 as a result of the sanctions.
For decades, Afghan society has been unable to survive without foreign funds. Despite promises to build its economy, the United States’ 20-year war has left Afghanistan with an economy dominated by opium trade and smuggling and corruption. This cannot sustain a population of millions.
The war in Afghanistan did not end with the defeat of the American army. He just went to war by other means.
SINCE the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, American presidents have insisted that their mission in Afghanistan is to fight terrorism and promote democracy. The US government now repeatedly announces that its sanctions are needed to bring the Taliban to their knees. Certain historical truths impose themselves.
To push its anti-Communist Cold War against the Soviet Union, the United States supported the Islamic fundamentalist mujahideen fighting against Soviet soldiers and the pro-Soviet Afghan government in the 1980s. At every turn, the United States has adopted, joined and funded military forces with women-hating Islamic fundamentalists and corrupt regimes of diverse Muslim ideologies – all severely limiting democratic rights. USSR forces in Afghanistan were defeated in 1989.
Its opponents, the mujahideen, have evolved into a number of repressive and brutally anti-women militias competing against each other, including the Taliban. The United States backed the murderous National Islamic Movement Party to help defeat the Taliban in 2001. At the same time, however, to maintain its influence in Afghanistan, that country relied on a partnership with the government of Pakistan, which supported the Taliban.
The Afghan constitution, drawn up with the help of American and European advisers, enshrined the country as an Islamic republic. According to Left Radical of Afghanistan, “Marxist, socialist and secular organizations and parties, as well as labor unions, have never been allowed to register officially or obtain authorization for their activities”. The LRA was forced underground by the return of the Taliban.
So much for the United States that “fights terrorism and supports democracy”. Its real role in Afghanistan was to maintain control over a region vital to the geopolitical interests of Wall Street capitalism.
How to help the Afghan people
The United States has no intention of abandoning its objectives in Afghanistan. As the LRA succinctly reports: “Although the United States has ended its military presence in Afghanistan, its intelligence presence and intervention is not over. The US Secretary of State said the same thing when he said that “America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for the future and we are implementing it.
Internationally, the defeat of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan has deepened already dangerous relations with capitalist Russia and China. Both countries are in a position to exploit American humiliation. They may or may not directly engage the Taliban. But Russian and Chinese policy is based on the needs of their own privileged ruling classes. Taking sides in US-Russian or US-Chinese rivalries will not help the Afghan people.
As activists at the heart of imperialism, it is our duty to focus and demand that the US government take responsibility for the devastation it has wrought.
To those who claim that only the Taliban will benefit from the unfreezing of cash from Afghan banks and the restoration of foreign aid, the LRA has this to say: “The Taliban, as a politico-religious group with a vision oldest and more conservative form of Islam, will only insist on the application of sharia and strict Islamic principles, and restrict women’s rights and civil liberties. It will not be able to provide health, education and social services to the Afghan people. Given this, he will soon face opposition, protests and resistance from the Afghan people and will be isolated internationally.
Socialist Freedom Party, February 5. Dr. Steven Strauss is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He practices in Baltimore and serves on the National Committee of the Socialist Freedom Party.