US keeps escalating Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis
The so-called US “support” for the Afghan people – and their freedoms – is nothing but a mockery of the reality on-ground.
“We will continue to support the Afghan people through diplomacy, international influence, and humanitarian aid. We’ll continue to push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability.”
Those were the words from US President Joe Biden in the aftermath of Washington’s catastrophic and widely condemned withdrawal from Afghanistan. The move all but ensured that Taliban rule reemerged, while pushing millions of Afghans into a never-ending cycle of humanitarian suffering and aggravated chaos. Now fast forward to the present: so-called US “support” for the Afghan people – and their freedoms – is nothing but a mockery of the reality on-ground.
Look to October 11, when Washington placed more counterproductive sanctions on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. That is despite the knowledge that these sanctions end up hitting the people of the country – ordinary Afghans – the hardest. One of the tacit justifications from the US is that it is standing up for the rights and causes of Afghans by resorting to these unilateral, forceful measures. That too against a state that was occupied for two decades. What the US refuses to acknowledge is that growth in punitive sanctions creates new victims of oppression and conflict in due course. That in turn will further endanger the same people that the US has oppressed for decades.
In fact, over the years of Washington’s illegal occupation of Afghanistan, there was no trace of tangible American support that actually elevated the lives of women or protected children from the perils of future poverty or starvation. Now, these populations are witness to the loss of nearly 700,000 jobs in their own country. Moreover, a severe humanitarian emergency keeps knocking at the gates. And yet, the wisdom in Washington is to do what imperialist powers do best: resort to sanctions and end up robbing the masses of their well-deserved futures.
The reversal of economic progress has already been guaranteed on the back of Washington’s coalition-led invasion, begging the question: when would enough be enough? To be clear, it is true that the US committed itself to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rebuilding, and billed its role as important to freedom and governance reforms. But the false impression of standing by Afghan people is debunked by continuing US sanctions. They call to memory all that the US hid from the public eye: that despite nearly $840 billion in spending, the US left an Afghanistan that “remains poor, aid-dependent, and conflict-affected.” Now with the possibility of over 90% of Afghans falling below the poverty line, American sanctions only aid the cause of wilful disruption and humanitarian destruction. This runs counter to its own commitment to value the life and worth of ordinary Afghans.
Neighboring Pakistan offers a remarkable contrast to Washington on the subject of aiding Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs. For instance, Islamabad has campaigned strongly to stem the crisis that once again puts the onus of accommodating more Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The latter, unlike the US, has opened its arms to refugees multiple times over the years and stands determined to prevent Afghanistan’s full-blown economic crisis that carries regional implications. But the US is just keen to lift its force posture off Afghanistan to focus on containment, great power competition, and more futile military interference elsewhere in the world – including Southeast Asia – leaving occupied lands ripe with unrest. The world is witness to America’s indifference as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan escalates. After all, invitations to end sanctions and return stolen Afghanistan funds to the people have gone unheeded. All this effectively confirms Washington’s role in escalating a crisis it hopes to stem in rhetoric, leaving regional countries – such as Pakistan and China – to lead delicate diplomacy and set things right.
It is a fact that ten years of economic growth in Afghanistan has now been reversed in just 12 months, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). During these 12 months, a key variable was the vacuum left for profound conflict and systemic oppression by invading US forces. Attempts to economically isolate the Taliban’s militant regime ignore that an entire population will be pushed into the arms of poverty, as if US war crimes, collateral attacks, and civilian casualties were not enough of pain. Is this Washington’s idea of democratic justice in Afghanistan?
But make no mistake: by trying to tighten the screws on the Taliban regime, the US is making it increasingly clear that a drastic deterioration in living standards and freedoms is barely a concern. The result could demand Afghans to cover even more ground, despite making endless sacrifices in a war that was never of their own making.
“The United States will continue to amplify ... voices and do all that we can to support progress for Afghan women, girls, and other at-risk populations,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken back in July.
And there we have it. This is the US attitude towards a country left in crisis: to create enormous risk for decades, and in the end, account for none of it.