File photo. Protesters outside the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on 21 December demanding the release of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves. (Photo credit: AFP)
On 22 February, hundreds of Afghans in the central province of Bamyan took to the streets to express their anger at the decision by the Biden administration to use half of the $7 billion Afghan funds illegally frozen in US banks to pay the families of the victims of 11 September attacks.
The protesters, who carried banners and placards denouncing the Biden administration, said the decision by the US government will have devastating consequences for the millions of citizens who could have benefited from the money if it was made available to Afghan authorities.
The protesters have also appealed to the United Nations to compel the US government to reverse its decision. They said the behavior of the US is tantamount to stealing Afghan resources.
Dozens of similar protests have been held in other parts of Afghanistan since President Biden signed the controversial order on 11 February.
The government of Afghanistan strongly condemned the decision and described it as “a violation of the rights of all Afghans.”
It warned that “if the United States does not deviate from its position and continues its provocative actions, the Islamic Emirate will also be forced to reconsider its policy towards the country.”
The $7.1 billion is part of the nearly $10 billion of Afghan funds that were frozen by the US and other western governments in August 2021 when the Taliban returned to power during the chaotic withdrawal of the US from the country after nearly 20 years of occupation.
The US has also imposed crippling sanctions on the war-torn nation. The punitive measures by the US has left the Afghan government without the financial means to provide the necessary public goods and services.
This has triggered a humanitarian crisis that has left more than half of the population without adequate food.
On 26 January, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons said the US sanctions are “squeezing the economy” and preventing the delivery of essential services.