President Joe Biden has drawn harsh criticism in recent weeks due to a chaotic U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan that paved the way for the Taliban to once again exert control over the war-torn nation.
According to WION, the Biden administration is doubling down on the debacle by requesting that the United Nations extend a waiver on harsh sanctions targeting top Taliban leaders.
Waiver set to expire next week
The stated purpose for the requested extension is to allow certain Taliban officials to travel internationally and access funds in otherwise frozen bank accounts, provided that those funds and travel serve the promotion of “peace and stability” in Afghanistan.
As Foreign Policy reported, the waiver had been set to expire on Monday.
Just a few weeks ago, officials in the U.S. and at the U.N. had threatened to reimpose sanctions if the Taliban continued its violent attacks. Given its subsequent overthrow of the Afghan government, however, it seems clear that the militant group ignored those warnings with few consequences.
Now, in the ostensible interest of allowing international talks to continue in Qatar, the U.S. has asked for a three-month extension of the waiver first granted at the request of the Trump administration in 2019.
Of course, the Biden administration’s request appears to undermine its supposed leverage over the Taliban, which U.S. officials claimed could be utilized if necessary to compel the group’s future cooperation.
History of Taliban sanctions
Assuming the U.N. Security Council grants the request, it appears that Taliban officials will be granted the freedom to travel and access frozen bank accounts for related expenses. In that case, there would be little if anything that U.S. or allied nations would be able to do to stop them.
Last month, the Atlantic Council reported that while the Taliban has never been officially sanctioned by the Security Council, certain top members and associated have been individually targeted with such restrictions since 1999.
Those sanctions stemmed from the Taliban’s alliance with al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden and have remained broadly if unofficially applied to the Taliban as a whole since then.
Meanwhile, the Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to extend the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for another six months despite the current Taliban rule.
As for the stated purpose of that mission, proponents say it helps coordinate aid efforts for Afghans. Without any real recourse against Taliban militants who have taken charge of the country by force, however, it remains to be seen how effective any such mission will actually be.