International plans to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan are bound to enrich the hardened terrorists at the core of the Taliban’s new regime, according to a House Republican who deployed to Afghanistan in the U.S. Army.
“If they believe that they can push aid into Afghanistan and it not go to the Taliban, they’re kidding themselves,” Rep. Mike Waltz, a Florida Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “They’re living in a fantasy land.”
U.S. officials met with Taliban envoys in Doha this week for “candid and professional” talks that focused on the “provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people,” as Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team put it. Western officials argue that they can avert the refugee crisis without aiding the Taliban, but Waltz panned that hope, citing the Haqqani Network’s clout within the regime.
“The Haqqani Network is in charge of Kabul, and Kabul has 25-30% of the Afghan populace,” he said. “They have a long history of skimming aid.”
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Sirajuddin Haqqani emerged from intra-Taliban talks as Afghanistan’s interior ministry chief following the U.S. withdrawal, meaning the head of a designated foreign terrorist organization holds a key role within the new power structure. Yet U.S. and European leaders fear a refugee crisis that could bring upheaval to Western society and politics, prompting international leaders to scramble for plans to direct aid into the country while minimizing its exposure to the Taliban.
“We need to inject cash in the economy,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Monday while proposing the formation of a trust fund for the war-torn and impoverished state. “I’m not saying that I’m asking the international community to give money to the Taliban or to the present authorities. No. We need to inject cash in the economy. We need to make the economy breathe. We need to allow people to survive.”
Waltz maintained that it will be simple for the terrorists to access those funds, even if they arrive at their intended destination in the first place, because they can threaten the recipients. “Do we continue to push international funds through the hands of known terrorist organizations that are actively, right now … abusing minorities, women, and civil society leaders?” He said. “I think not.”
Guterres, anticipating such an objection, said that to withhold aid would amount to “a collective punishment” of the Afghan people. That argument was echoed Tuesday by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen as she unveiled the European Union’s plan to provide €1 billion of aid to Afghanistan.
“We have been clear about our conditions for any engagement with the Afghan authorities, including on the respect of human rights,” she said. “So far, the reports speak for themselves. But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban’s actions. This is why the Afghan support package is for the Afghan people and the country’s neighbors, who have been the first in providing them with help.”
The EU chief also followed Guterres in underscoring the need “to avert a major humanitarian and socioeconomic collapse in Afghanistan.” Waltz, for his part, acknowledged the dilemma posed by the potential refugee crisis, but faulted the Biden administration for failing to account for that likelihood during the internal debate about whether to withdraw U.S. forces from the country.
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“Now we have to consider what to do about the refugee crisis, when that should have been baked into the decision from the front end,” he said. “The intelligence estimates were clear that [the government collapse] was at least going to happen by the end of this year, so one way or another, you were going to face this crisis.”
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Tags: News, Foreign Policy, National Security, Taliban, Afghanistan, European Union, United Nations, House Armed Services Committee
Original Author: Joel Gehrke
Original Location: ‘Fantasy land’: International aid to Afghanistan will enrich the Haqqani Network, House Republican argues