Afghans Protest Biden Order

Demonstrators oppose decision on frozen funds, demand compensation for war deaths
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 12, 2022 12:30 PM CST
Afghans Oppose US Order on Frozen Funds
Afghan protesters shout slogans Saturday in Kabul during the protest.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Demonstrators in Afghanistan's capital Saturday condemned President Joe Biden’s order freeing up $3.5 billion in Afghan assets held in the US for families of America's 9/11 victims—saying the money belongs to Afghans. Protesters who gathered outside Kabul's grand Eid Gah mosque asked America for financial compensation for the tens of thousands of Afghans killed during the last 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the AP reports. Biden's order, signed Friday, allocates another $3.5 billion in Afghan assets for humanitarian aid to a trust fund to be managed by the UN to provide aid to Afghans.

The country's economy is teetering on the brink of collapse after international money stopped coming into Afghanistan with the arrival in mid-August of the Taliban. Afghanistan's Central Bank called on Biden to reverse his order and release the funds to it, saying in a statement Saturday that the money belongs to the people of Afghanistan and not a government, party or group. Torek Farhadi, a financial adviser to Afghanistan's former US-backed government, questioned the UN managing Afghan Central Bank reserves. He said those funds are not meant for humanitarian aid but "to back up the country's currency, help in monetary policy and manage the country's balance of payment."

“These reserves belong to the people of Afghanistan, not the Taliban," said Farhadi, adding, "No other country on Earth makes such confiscation decisions about another country's reserves." Afghanistan has about $9 billion in assets overseas, including the $7 billion in the US. Michael Kugelman, of the Asia Program at the US-based Wilson Center, called Biden's order to divert $3.5 billion from Afghanistan “heartless" in a tweet. "It's great that $3.5B in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan has been freed up. But to take another $3.5B that belongs to the Afghan people, and divert it elsewhere—that is misguided and quite frankly heartless," Kugelman wrote.

(More Afghanistan stories.)

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