Afghanistan? Follow the Money, by Pepe Escobar

Afghanistan is rife with poverty and corruption. It’s unclear how the new government will fund itself. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via consortiumnews.com:

With the fall of Kabul, Pepe Escobar says it’s becoming clear that financial soft power tactics may be even more deadly than a NATO occupation.

Afghan money changer at the bazaar displays his currency wares. (Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion)

After 20 years and a staggering $2.23 trillion spent in a “forever war” persistently spun as promoting democracy and benefiting the “Afghan people,” it’s legitimate to ask what the Empire of Chaos has to show for it.

The numbers are dire. Afghanistan remains the world’s seventh poorest nation: 47 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the Asian Development Bank. No less than 75 percent of the — dissolved — Kabul government’s budget was coming from international aid. According to the World Bank, that aid was responsible for the turnover of 43 percent of the economy — one that was mired in massive government corruption.

According to the terms of the Washington-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February 2020, the U.S. should continue to fund Afghanistan during and after its withdrawal.

Now, with the Fall of Kabul and the imminent return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, it’s becoming clear that applying financial soft power tactics may be even more deadly than a mere NATO occupation.

Washington has frozen $9.5 billion in Afghan Central Bank reserves and the International Monetary Fund has canceled its lending to Afghanistan, including $460 million that’s part of a Covid-19 relief program.

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