Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, more than $9 billion in Afghan assets were frozen by the US and European countries and restrictions were imposed on the banking system of the war-ravaged country.
“The imposition of pressure policy and sanctions by some countries has affected our countrymen,” said Abdul Latif Nazari, the Taliban deputy minister for the economy.
Doha-based Taliban spokesperson Sohail Shaheen, however, said his country was in dire economic straits because of back-breaking sanctions and lack of recognition by the global community. The Taliban, according to him, had inherited a weak economy and an extremely impoverished Afghanistan when it seized power in Kabul in August 2021. “The poverty that we are experiencing today was inherited from the past, from the past 20-year-long regime during which foreign forces had a presence in Afghanistan,” he said during a conversation with the media.
Shaheen said though it was claimed that “the occupying powers” spent billions of dollars in the country, “those dollars went into the private pockets of the warlords. The common people continued to live below the poverty line.” That situation worsened, he claimed, after the imposition of economic sanctions on Afghanistan after the Taliban took control. “The restrictions led to more poverty,” he said.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s Kabul-based spokesman, meanwhile, called for ending the travel ban on some of their leaders to help advance diplomacy. “About 14 to 15 officials have issues with travelling. It (travel ban) existed previously but it has been extended. This doesn’t benefit any side as the travels of the leaders are necessary for engagement with the world and development of Afghanistan,” he said.
A total of 135 Taliban officials have been subjected to sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, under a 2011 Security Council resolution. Last year, a brief exemption from the travel ban was granted to 13 Taliban leaders, including interim foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, to allow them to meet officials from other countries, including the United States. The UN Security Council, however, had ended the waiver in August 2022 after objections from Western nations, citing the Taliban’s failure to uphold their commitments to respect human rights of all Afghans, including women, form an inclusive government, and fight terrorism.