Iran Calls For Release Of Afghan Funds During Taliban Envoy’s Visit

The Taliban administration’s foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi traveled to Tehran, Iran’s capital, for talks centered on refugee, economic and political issues between Iran and Afghanistan. Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian pledged to continue to offer Afghanistan humanitarian support and had called for the United States to release Afghan funds, to alleviate its harsh conditions and improve the welfare of the Afghan people. “The assets of Afghanistan blocked by America … should be used for humanitarian purposes and improvement of the living conditions in Afghanistan,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

The Taliban were last in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when the people of Afghanistan lacked liberties and were under oppressive rules enforced by the Taliban. The people that do now follow its edicts often suffered severe punishments and public executions. On August 15th, 2021, Taliban insurgents took over Afghanistan once again after the U.S. withdrew its 20-year presence in support. 

Large groups of Afghan people have sought to flee to neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan. The visits of 3.6 million refugees, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, had fled to Iran as a result of the recent Taliban takeover. The harsh Afghan winter will be a significant challenge for the people of Afghanistan coupled with the country’s potential economy and security crisis during the Taliban rule.

Neighboring countries are calling for the international community to find ways to alleviate the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Afghanistan. Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s position rests on urging the U.S. to release the funds that belong to Afghanistan so they can be used to support its people and their living conditions.

The Biden administration froze the Afghan government’s reserves back in August, which prevents the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in U.S. institutions. The reason why the U.S. blocked the Afghan funds is due to an effort to prevent the Taliban to gain access to the funds. Afghanistan’s national central bank Da Afgan Bank has 9.5 billion dollars worth of assets in accounts of U.S.-based financial institutions. However, simply unfreezing the Afghan funds does not ensure the money will be spent to address the needs of the Afghan people due to current Taliban rule. The Taliban have not yet demonstrated credibility in delivering its promises on upholding human rights, peace, and inclusivity in Afghanistan. Hence there is considerable risk involved in allowing the fundamentalist group access to billions of dollars.

An alternative solution is required to protect the civilizations and extend possible support for the people in Afghanistan. One remedy remains to be a single country aid appeal for 4.4 billion that was recently launched by the UN on Jan 11th. According to OCHA, the UN humanitarian coordination office, half the population currently faces extreme hunger and millions of children are out of school. As of now, the international community should help fund this aid to help Afghanistan stave off hunger, disease, and malnutrition while ensuring the operation of schools, shelters, and health services in Afghanistan.