Afghans oppose US move to seize half of country’s frozen assets, call it illegal and unjust

Amid severe opposition and criticism, the Joe Biden administration decided last week to divert nearly half of the USD 7 billion Afghan frozen assets it holds to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks

February 16, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Afghan frozen assets
(Photo: Afghanistan Times/Twitter)

Hundreds of Afghans marched in the capital Kabul and other cities on Monday, February 15, to protest against the US decision to divert nearly half of Afghanistan’s frozen assets held in its banks to victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Protesters asserted that the people of Afghanistan are not responsible for the actions of the Taliban, which is accused by the Joe Biden administration of sheltering Al-Qaeda that was responsible for the attack. 

Protesters demanded that the US and the international institutions release all of Afghanistan’s frozen assets, nearly USD 10 billion, to the country. They claimed that the decision taken by the Biden administration is illegal and unfair. 

“The money has nothing to do with the Taliban, this money has nothing to do with al-Qaeda, this money belongs to the people of Afghanistan,” one of the protesters was quoted by Tolo news.  

Similar protests were organized in different parts of Afghanistan on Saturday as well. 

Several Afghans also took to social media to oppose the US move, calling it outrageous and shortsighted which will “serve to worsen a catastrophe in progress” in Afghanistan. 

The Taliban had issued a statement last week calling the move the “lowest level of human and moral decay of a country and a nation.”

US president Joe Biden, despite opposition from human rights groups and the Afghan government, signed an executive order last Friday to divide the USD 7 billion of frozen Afghan funds it holds into two. According to the claims made by his administration, half of this money, USD 3.5 billion, will go to Afghanistan for humanitarian aid and the other half will be kept in the US for victims of the September 11 attacks who have filed litigation in US courts for compensation.  

The Biden administration also claimed that it is looking for ways to send the remaining money to Afghanistan “while keeping them out of the hands of Taliban and malicious actors.”   

Biden should not steal Afghan money 

CODEPINK, an anti-war group in the US, started a petition on Monday asking “Biden not to steal from the Afghan people.” The group said that “Afghan people are not responsible for 9/11 and more than humanitarian aid, they need their money to be returned to their Central Bank to shore up their collapsing economy” and that “these funds are not Biden’s to distribute.” 

The US and its allies froze nearly USD 10 billion of Afghan assets following Taliban’s takeover of power on August 15 last year. The freezing of Afghan assets had led to widespread global condemnation. Various countries, including China and Russia, as well as the UN, have demanded that the US release the funds to Afghanistan, given the overall humanitarian situation in the country. According to the UN, due to decades of war and a prolonged drought, there is nearly universal poverty in Afghanistan and millions of Afghans are facing a severe crisis due to lack of enough food, medicines, and other basic amenities. The money frozen in the US may help the government to address some of these issues and can save millions of lives.