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New York Times Editorial Tells Washington To ‘Let Innocent Afghans Have Their Money’

Jan. 15, 2022 (EIRNS)—The New York Times has figured out that they had better call for the release of Afghanistan’s reserves, held illegally by the U.S. Federal Reserve (and some European banks) while millions of Afghanistan citizens are being starved and frozen to death, or a genocide unprecedented since at least the Nazi death camps will be yet another mass death brought on by their lies—“All the lies that fit we print.” Titled “Let Innocent Afghans Have Their Money,” their Jan. 14 editorial describes some of the horror brought on by the sanctions and the freezing of funds, admits that the small amount of “humanitarian aid” being sent in through institutions avoiding the Taliban government will not stop the slaughter, and asserts correctly that without saving the central bank and the banking system people will die. They punt on demanding that the Fed release the funds, blaming the 9/11 victims’ claim on the money. Instead they call on the U.S. to pledge to the European banks that there will be no sanctions penalties on them for releasing the money they hold to the Afghan central bank.

Some excerpts:

“Malnourished children with withered arms have been arriving at clinics in Afghanistan for months now. Although the markets are full of food, too many people lack the money to buy it. Since U.S. forces withdrew and the Taliban seized control in August, prices have skyrocketed. Even those people lucky enough to have savings in the bank have to line up for hours to withdraw a small fraction of it. Banks are so low on cash that they have placed a limit on withdrawals....

“Doctors, nurses, teachers and other essential government workers haven’t been paid in months, and it’s not clear when they will ever be. The Taliban remain on the U.S. sanctions list, so the international community has refused to give them money.

“Targeted financial sanctions are an appropriate and powerful tool to punish bad actors and odious regimes. The mere threat of them can achieve results. But too often their cumulative effect over time is indistinguishable from collective punishment.

“Right now the entire financial system in Afghanistan risks collapse. Ordinary people who have nothing to do with the Taliban have been largely cut off from the international banking system, simply because they live in Afghanistan....

“Foreign banks are refusing to wire money to Afghanistan, not only because they don’t want to deal with the reputational risk, but also because they fear that the long arm of the U.S. Treasury might one day punish them for it....

“If the formal banking system in Afghanistan collapses, then the entire economy could be driven into the shadows, where illicit activities like kidnapping and drug trafficking would play an even bigger role than they do now....

“ ‘The economy is not just in free fall; it’s being strangled,’ said David Miliband, president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee. ‘We’re a humanitarian agency. But we want to say loud and clear that you can’t solve this problem of mass malnutrition only with a humanitarian effort.’ ”

The editorial then quotes Shah Mehrabi, a board member of Da Afghanistan Bank (the central bank), on the plan he has also presented to a Schiller Institute conference on Nov. 13, 2021: to release the funds in tranches to allow the defense of the Afghan national currency. They mention some other small steps, but declare that such steps “won’t make a dent in the human suffering if the banking system collapses. When banks splinter and fail, they exacerbate crises, as happened in Yemen, according to Dave Harden, an expert on the economies of countries in conflict.”

The Times concludes with its own self interest: “Reasonable people can disagree about how much aid the United States should give Afghanistan after two heartbreaking decades of blood and treasure. It is tempting to walk away entirely. But self-interest dictates that Americans think clearly about long-term costs. Small efforts now could avoid big problems later—such as another mass migration in Europe. They could also preserve a toehold in the country. The war has been lost, but that doesn’t mean every institution that Americans worked with is destined to disappear. There’s still time to save Afghanistan’s central bank.”

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