Politics

Afghans protest President Biden’s order to give $3.5 billion to 9/11 victims

Demonstrators in Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday condemned President Joe Biden’s order freeing up $3.5 billion in Afghan assets held in the U.S. for families of America’s 9/11 victims, stating that the money belongs to Afghans.

Protesters gathered outside Kabul’s grand Eid Gah Mosque to ask America for financial compensation for the tens of thousands of Afghans killed during the last 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

Biden’s order, which was signed on Friday, allocates another $3.5 billion in Afghan assets for humanitarian aid to a trust fund to be managed by the U.N. to provide aid to Afghans.

Torek Farhadi, who is a financial adviser to Afghanistan’s former U.S.-backed government, questioned the U.N. managing Afghan Central Bank reserves. He said those funds are not meant for humanitarian aid but “to back up the country’s currency, help in monetary policy and manage the country’s balance of payment.”

He also questioned the legality of Biden’s order. “These reserves belong to the people of Afghanistan, not the Taliban … Biden’s decision is one-sided and does not match with international law,” said Farhadi. “No other country on Earth makes such confiscation decisions about another country’s reserves.”

Afghanistan has about $9 billion in assets overseas, including the $7 billion in the United States. The rest is mostly in Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland.

“What about our Afghan people who gave many sacrifices and thousands of losses of lives?” asked the demonstration’s organizer, Abdul Rahman, a civil society activist.

Biden’s Friday order generated a social media storm with Twitter saying #USA_stole_money_from_afghan was trending among Afghans. Tweets repeatedly pointed out that the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, not Afghans.

Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer at the American University in Afghanistan and a social activist, tweeted: “Let’s remind the world that #AfghansDidntCommit911 and that #BidenStealingAfgMoney!”

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the US-based Wilson Center, called Biden’s order to divert $3.5 billion away from Afghanistan “heartless.”

“It’s great that $3.5B in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan has been freed up. But to take another $3.5B that belongs to the Afghan people, and divert it elsewhere—that is misguided and quite frankly heartless,” he tweeted.

Kugelman also said the opposition to Biden’s order crossed Afghanistan’s wide political divide. “I can’t remember the last time so many people of such vastly different worldviews were so united over a US policy decision on Afghanistan,” he tweeted.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: WKBN.COM

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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