Sun Feb 25, 2024
February 25, 2024

Taliban, the U.S. and Europe Met in Oslo Amid Humanitarian Crisis

Representatives of the Taliban regime met on January 23, 24 and 25 in Oslo with representatives of the U.S. government and European countries. It was the first formal meeting of the new Afghan regime with representatives of the U.S. and European imperialism.

 
By: Fabio Bosco
 
Led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Afghan delegation was willing to take steps towards unfreezing some $10 billion in Afghan funds abroad, economic cooperation (read imperialist investments) and de facto recognition of the new regime.
Speaking at the end of the first day of talks, Taliban delegate Shafiullah Azam told The Associated Press that the meetings with Western officials were “a step to legitimize (the) Afghan government,” adding that “this type of invitation and communication will help (the) European community, (the) U.S. or many other countries to erase the wrong picture of the Afghan government.”
“We are requesting them to unfreeze Afghan assets and not punish ordinary Afghans because of the political discourse,” said Shafiullah Azam. “Because of the starvation, because of the deadly winter, I think it’s time for the international community to support Afghans, not punish them because of their political disputes.” (I)
Indeed, the humanitarian crisis is overwhelming. According to the UN, around 24 million Afghans are starving, of which nine million (including one million children) are in absolute poverty. The UN predicts that soon 97% of the population will be below the poverty line. (II)
On January 15th, the International Labor Organization (ILO) released a report that states that more than half a million Afghans have lost their jobs in the last 5 months. Women, agricultural workers, civil servants and construction workers are the most affected. (III)
 
The American agenda is different
However, the American agenda for this meeting is different. A U.S. delegation, led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West, plans to discuss “the formation of a representative political system; responses to the urgent humanitarian and economic crises; security and counterterrorism concerns; and human rights, especially education for girls and women,” according to a statement released by the U.S. State Department. (IV)
In other words, the main American concerns are around the inclusion of its main political allies in the Afghan government, in addition to the question of repressing groups that might target U.S. interests. In addition, the U.S. wants to use seized Afghan funds to provide humanitarian aid, preferably through U.S. corporations.
The issue of human rights and women’s access to education, on the other hand, is a smokescreen to hide the disaster that 20 years of American occupation meant, with the loss of more than 164,000 Afghan lives (plus 6,000 Americans), massive destruction of homes and villages, more than half of the population below the poverty line, in addition to maintaining the system of oppression of women with female illiteracy reaching 75% of the population, only 1 woman for every 5 jobs, half of the women marrying under the age of 18, payment of dowry and Burka use by most women in rural areas where 75% of the population live. Concerns for women’s rights have been far removed from imperialist plans during the 20 years of American occupation.
 
Taliban abandons anti-imperialist positions
Against the stream of the struggle against imperialism, the Taliban regime invests in the formation of a capitalist, authoritarian state in harmony with the imperialist world order.
No measures were taken to change the economic model imposed by the 20 years of American occupation based on the export of poppy and its derivatives, on the import of food and on external dependence.
There is no word on land reform, a measure necessary not only to bring justice to the millions of landless workers but also to prioritize growing food on the best lands with access to water.
The demand for war reparations to be addressed both to the United States and NATO, which promoted the destruction of the country for 20 years, as well as to Russia, whose 10 years of occupation were equally damaging, does not appear in official speeches and was replaced by the request to unblock the $10 billion Afghan assets frozen by imperialism.
That is what happened on January 19, 2022 on the occasion of the economic conference attended by Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, who limited himself to explaining the importance of unfreezing Afghan assets: “The help that we are asking is not for the officials of the government, it is for the poor nation”. 
He invited the head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, who did not spare praise for the new regime when mentioning that: 
“Exports have also reached the $1 billion mark for the first time ever, the payment of salaries to civil servants have been made,” Lyons said, and lauded the Taliban for their new budget, solely “financed by national revenues and not dependent on any donor grants.”
“Foremost among these advances is the adoption of a national budget that was for the first time totally financed by national revenues,” Lyons said. She attributed the increased revenues in large part to Taliban “efforts to curb corruption.” (V)
By the way, it is interesting to mention the “food for work” program in which part of the international donations of wheat are delivered to public workers. In other words, the priority is the construction of the State to the detriment of alleviating the poverty situation of the population.(VI)
Finally, there is the issue of democratic freedoms and women’s rights.
Since taking power, the Taliban has tried to curtail women’s access to work and study, to enforce the compulsory wearing of the hijab, and to curb the right to demonstrate and for freedom of the press.
Today Afghanistan is the only country in the world that publicly restricts girls and women’s access to education.
However, in the face of pressure at home and abroad, government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gave an interview to The Associated Press on Jan 15, 2022 stating that their education departments are looking to open classrooms for all girls and women following the Afghan New Year, which starts on March 21, 2022. He stressed that “We are not against education”. Regarding access to work, he said that women are working in the health and education sector and at Kabul International Airport in customs and passport control. But he did not say if or when women would be allowed to return to work in government ministries. (VII)
In fact, establishing universal education for boys and girls is an important but insufficient step to guarantee the most basic rights of women such as parity in public and private jobs (today the formal workforce is only 20% female), equal pay for equal work, an end to cruel punishments such as flogging and stoning, the right not to wear hijab or burqa, and a policy to end bridal dowry and the sale of teenagers into marriage.
Regarding other democratic rights, the right to demonstrate is not guaranteed. On the contrary, demonstrations are repressed and activists are arrested. That is the case of Tamana Zaryabi Paryani, member of the group “Seekers of Justice”. Tamana and her 3 sisters were arrested on January 19, 2022 at 8 pm at her apartment in Kabul by a police force of ten gunmen from the Taliban Intelligence Department who broke into her home.
That took place after a demonstration by 25 women on January 16, 2022 for access to education and work in addition to an end to the compulsory use of the hijab that was repressed by the police. (VIII)
On January 19, 2022 the Committee to Protect Journalists demanded that the new regime investigate the invasion of the home of documentary filmmaker Zaki Qais by two armed police officers who attacked him. (IX)
The previous week, the journalist for the media organization Afghanistan Salam, Noor Mohammad Hashemi, was beaten by three unidentified men. (X)
 
The fight against the new regime
Today the Taliban regime has become the main obstacle to a thorough break with the capitalist economic model imposed by the U.S. occupation and to guaranteeing democratic freedoms and women’s rights.
The working class and poor farmers have to take the first steps to self-organize and fight for workers’ and people’s rights.
Every step for self-organization and the struggle for every democratic, worker or people’s demands, however small, has to be supported in the perspective of the struggle for the end of capitalism and for the seizure of power by the working class on the basis of workers’ democracy and international solidarity among working people.
 
Notes:
(I) https://apnews.com/article/talks-with-taliban-begin-in-norway-281532ba4dc8ba968ed7a6643aa31c71 
(II) https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2022/1/5/in-pictures-afghanistan-desperate-taliban-economic-crisis-poverty-hunger-covid 
(III) https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-business-united-nations-taliban-economy-28deddcd2012fe8a1e8cc37aa49af2b3
(IV) https://apnews.com/article/talks-with-taliban-begin-in-norway-281532ba4dc8ba968ed7a6643aa31c71 
(V) https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-business-taliban-united-states-kabul-4c6409ef34a214c216b53b6523e5d471 
(VI) https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59961671 
(VII) https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-education-united-nations-kabul-taliban-c07aefcb90b560bc82b60b17d9623833 
(VIII) https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-taliban-kabul-social-media-media-eec3080df6a424aee6021a273f69e6cd 
(XIX) idem
(X) idem
 
 

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