How Long Until Biden Starts Funding the Taliban?

The Taliban have been on their "best behavior" by their standards. Why?

There's a guiding hand behind the Taliban and its victories. That's most likely some combination of Pakistan and Qatar. The Qataris had  Taliban leaders under their shadow in Doha for some time and had plenty of time to develop a PR plan for their victory.

But what's in it for the Taliban?

1. The Taliban's backers want to achieve diplomatic recognition for their regime. They're likely to get it from China, Russia, and Iran. And a variety of smaller countries. 

2. They want money.

WaPo gives us a glimpse of the cash we're talking about. Much of which comes from the United States.

The Biden administration on Sunday froze Afghan government reserves held in U.S. bank accounts, blocking the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in U.S. institutions, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Afghanistan central bank held $9.4 billion in reserve assets as of April, according to the International Monetary Fund. That amounts to roughly one-third of the country’s annual economic output. The vast majority of those reserves are not currently held in Afghanistan, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Among those, billions of dollars are kept in the United States, although the precise amount is unclear.

That means, among other things, that even when we get our people out, we're still engaged in Afghanistan.

Just like with Iran, this will be an issue going forward. And, if you'll recall, Obama eventually sent money to Iran under that pretext.

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank, said: “For the U.S. government to seize Afghanistan’s central bank reserves would be a big mistake. It would be telling the Taliban that the U.S. government wants to destroy them and their country’s economy.”

I like how the Washington Post breezily refers to a pro-Venezuela left-wing radical group that makes Bernie Sanders look conservative as just a "think-tank". Meanwhile, any remotely conservative or libertarian group is labeled as right-wing.

Here's who Weisbrot is.

After Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013, Weisbrot eulogized him not only in print but at a February 2014 propaganda-fest, entitled “The Legacy of Hugo Chávez: At Home And Abroad,”at Venezuela’s D.C. Embassy. A month later he was in Caracas to head up another tribute sponsored by the Venezuelan government, this one called “Chávez, Communicator of the 21st Century.” 

So, just a "Washington think tank".

But, as usual, the fringes preview the arguments you're going to see pipelined into more mainstream sources. More on that later.

Beyond the reserves, the United States also sends roughly $3 billion per year in support for the Afghan military, or roughly 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The funding can only be spent if the secretary of defense “certifies to Congress that the Afghan forces are controlled by a civilian, representative government that is committed to protecting human rights and women’s rights,” according to a congressional summary of the legislation. This funding is expected to stop flowing as well, along with smaller pots of money, such as $20 million for recruiting women to the Afghan national security forces.

Somehow I don't think the Afghan military is going to have a lot of female members going forward.

The Taliban staged a rapid advance on Kabul and other cities in recent days, prompting the Afghan government and security forces to surrender or collapse. Mark Sobel, who previously served as deputy assistant secretary for international monetary and financial policy at the Treasury Department, said restricting the funding could at a minimum be used as “leverage on the Taliban to behave better.”

At a minimum.

Read between the lines and you understand that we're going to be enabling the funding of terrorism. As Churchill once said, "it's just a matter of the price."

 But we'll be deep in it before long via the "humanitarian aid" channels.

Smith, the former Obama administration official, also said the more important decision probably would come when Washington decides how to handle sanctions against the Taliban, given that the group now controls the country. Maintaining those sanctions might chill international efforts to help Afghanistan, but it could prove politically impossible for the Biden administration to moderate — let alone lift — sanctions on the Taliban now that it is in power.

“It could be cataclysmic for Afghanistan if the administration does not handle the sanctions issue deftly,” said Smith, who is now a partner at Gibson Dunn, pointing to a similar situation in the waning days of the Trump presidency that threatened to deprive Yemenis living under the sanctioned Houthi government from aid. In that case, he said, Biden officials removed the Houthis from the terrorism sanctions list — an option that may prove unavailable in this case. “This is a potentially serious humanitarian issue that I am hoping people in our government are thinking long and hard about.”

International powers may also entertain new sanctions against Afghanistan, a suggestion already made by Britain’s foreign minister earlier this week. Sanctions can help force foreign adversaries to adopt U.S. policy by penalizing their trade partners. However, they can also exact brutal humanitarian tolls on civilian populations.

The Washington Post has proven itself a voice for Islamist, and especially Qatari agendas, in Washington D.C. It's early, but it's already previewing the argument that we have to maintain "humanitarian aid" to Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Despite all the assurances, the money will end up in the hands of the Taliban and help shore up their rule.

Understand that this is not a question of 'if' this will happen, but when.

Going forward, you will see more stories about the "humanitarian catastrophe" in Afghanistan and, just as in Yemen, claims of famine, orchestrated by the same media that spread this same propaganda about Iran's Houthi proxies in Yemen.

Aid groups will function under the Taliban, they will pay protection money to them (while swearing up and down on a stack of Das Kapitals that they're not) and we'll end up funding them.

And that's the best-case scenario.

 

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