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Dr. Shah Mohammad Mehrabi Briefs EIR How U.S. Policy Is ‘Suffocating’ Afghanistan's People

Dec. 16, 2021 (EIRNS)—Dr. Shah Mohammad Mehrabi, the economist who has served on the Supreme Council of the Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) Central Bank since 2002, in a Dec. 15 interview with EIR, characterized the freezing of Afghanistan’s $9.5 billion of reserves being held in the U.S. Federal Reserve and several European banks as illegal and immoral, punishing not the Taliban but the Afghan people. Most Afghans have experienced war nearly all of their lives, he said, and now that there is peace, the freezing of the funds and the imposition of sanctions are “suffocating” the people, creating famine and misery, and many deaths from disease and starvation.

Some of his points:

The denial of access of the funds belonging to the DAB Central Bank has already caused a 14% devaluation of the currency, which will rapidly become much worse, as the bank is almost out of funds to defend it at all. Soon the people’s savings will be rendered worthless.

Inflation is horrendous: 74% for gas; 20% for wheat; 30% for flour.

Since sanctions have denied Da Afghanistan Bank access to the SWIFT system, foreign trade has essentially stopped. Even trade with its neighbor Pakistan has declined by half.

Humanitarian aid is needed, but bypassing the banking system means the aid is at best short-term, and does nothing to fix the problem.

Claiming the sanctions and freezing of funds are due to the Taliban’s treatment of women and children makes no sense, since the actions of withholding those funds are killing women and children. If not reversed immediately, there will soon be millions of women, carrying their babies in their arms, walking out of the country to Iran, with hopes of reaching Turkey and Europe.

The Afghan people are being punished, while the policy does not harm the Taliban, who are cooperating with the Da Afghanistan Bank.

The proposal to bypass the DAB Central Bank by establishing a private bank to take over its functions is unworkable—commercial banks need profit, and cannot serve as a lender of last resort, while they will not have the trust of the population. Doing so would destroy the trust that exists in the Central Bank.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) already has a bad name in Afghanistan. Now the UN, despite warning that the banking system is collapsing and is needed to run humanitarian assistance, nevertheless has delivered two gifts of $16 million each in aid, but bypassed the Central Bank.

The two-page letter from members of Congress to Biden to release the funds now has 23 endorsers in the House and Senate, while Dr. Mehrabi continues to meet with members and staffers to gain more support. The letter has not yet been released.

He fully supports Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s call for Operation Ibn Sina. The health situation is drastic, since the entire system was supported by the World Bank, which has cut off all funds. The COVID pandemic is out of control. As for clean water and electricity needed for health care, they are essentially nonexistent. Ibn Sina is indeed beloved in the country, as evident by the main hospital in Kabul being named Ibn Sina Hospital.

The U.S. policy is not only short-sighted, but represents the “final abandonment of the Afghan people.”

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