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Monday, January 24, 2022

Blinken in talks with Qatar FM as US authorises aid to Afghanistan


The US Treasury issued additional general licenses to enable aid delivery to Afghanistan despite the presence of sanctions on the Taliban.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Qatar for its continuous assistance in the safe transit of Afghans and foreigners from Kabul, Washington Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Wednesday.

This came in a phone call between Blinken and his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in which the former congratulated the people of Qatar on the national day, which is celebrated on 18 December.

Spoke with Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and congratulated Qatar for the recent observance of Qatar National Day. I also recognised Qatar’s continued efforts to support the safe transit of US citizens and LPRs from Afghanistan,” tweeted Blinken.

Beyond the Afghan peace process, Qatar has facilitated rapid evacuations from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on 15 August. In recent months, the Gulf state evacuated over 70,000 Afghans and foreigners, including US citizens.

It also moved Washington’s consulate from Kabul to Doha to continue to carry out its diplomatic operations following the chaotic US exit from the country. Qatar and the US later signed an agreement in November enabling the former to represent Washington’s interest in Afghanistan.

Civilian flights in Afghanistan resumed on 9 September for the first time since the completion of the troop withdrawal on 31 August. The flights have since continued to take place from Kabul to Doha, with some evacuees remaining in the Gulf state before heading to their final destinations.

US aid delivery decision

Meanwhile, the US Treasury announced the issuance of additional general licenses on Wednesday in efforts to allow the delivery of aid to Afghanistan despite the presence of sanctions imposed on the Taliban.

According to a US State Department statement, three general licenses have been issued from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC], which it said “expand upon existing authorisations for the provision of humanitarian assistance”.

Afghan FM says Taliban-led gov has met all conditions for global recognition

“While US sanctions on the Taliban remain in place, OFAC has provided broad authorisations that ensure nongovernmental organisations, international organisations, and the US government can continue to provide assistance and critical support to the most vulnerable Afghans,” added the statement.

Furthermore, the US pledged to provide Afghans with one million additional Covid-19 vaccine doses through COVAX, raising the total number of jabs to 4.3 million.

Washington also said it provided nearly $474 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in the region during the fiscal year 2021.

This comes as Afghanistan faces a worsening humanitarian situation caused by years of war and drought.

The US contributed to the situation by freezing up to $10 billion of Afghanistan’s reserves when the Taliban took over Kabul on 15 August, while the International Monetary Fund [IMF] also halted funds to the country.

The United Nations had warned in October this year that at least 22 million Afghans, more than half of the country, are at risk of facing “acute” hunger during the harsh winter season.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon recently said no military personnel will face any punishment for the 29 August drone strike, which killed 10 members of the same family in Afghanistan after initially claiming ISIS-K terrorists were on site.

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