Like It or Not, Donors Must Work With The Taliban on Economic Recovery
Like It or Not, Donors Must Work With The Taliban on Economic Recovery
Op-Ed / Asia

Like It or Not, Donors Must Work With The Taliban on Economic Recovery

Originally published in Foreign Affairs

One year ago, in the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul, Western policy was pushing Afghanistan to the brink of collapse. Humanitarian groups warned that U.S. sanctions and other restrictions were choking the Afghan economy and could lead to famine, large-scale migration, and regional instability. In a series of quick decisions that may have saved millions of lives, the United States and like-minded countries changed course, taking action to mitigate the catastrophe they had left behind in Afghanistan. The United States granted the most sweeping exemptions in the history of U.S. sanctions and, with Western allies, sent planeloads of humanitarian aid to the country.

As a result, Afghanistan’s economic free fall slowed and a famine was averted, though many Afghans still face starvation. Afghanistan has also become more stable: compared with last year, there is less violence, fewer people have to flee their homes, and the Taliban are making some progress in clamping down on corruption and the trafficking of weapons and narcotics. Yet the Taliban regime also appears bent on isolating the country from the rest of the world, most notably by barring women and girls from broad swaths of public life.

The Taliban’s insistence on rolling out more restrictions on women and limiting other fundamental rights and freedoms has sparked an understandable backlash. Some Western officials are increasingly unwilling to countenance the kind of engagement that helped deliver lifesaving assistance in the past year. They want to block development aid, tighten sanctions, and isolate Afghanistan further.

Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.

Contributors

Senior Consultant, Afghanistan
smithkabul
Senior Analyst, U.S. Program
delaneysimon

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