- After previous indications of progress in talks between the US and the Taliban, the Biden admin. has reportedly suspended talks and stated that none of the roughly $7B in Afghan assets held on US soil since the Taliban takeover - which marked exactly one year on Mon. - will be released.
- According to the US special envoy to Afghanistan, Tom West, the admin. has taken this decision as it doesn't believe the Afghan central bank has the ability or the trust "to manage assets responsibly."
- This announcement comes after al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in Kabul by a US drone strike in late July.
- Senior US officials, including Sec. of State Antony Blinken, claim that the Taliban knew Zawahiri's whereabouts and hosted him, violating the Trump-brokered Doha Agreement.
- With talks suspended, other proposals such as a prisoner exchange between US contractor Mark Frerichs and Afghan drug lord Bashir Noorzai - who is serving a life sentence in the US for attempting to smuggle heroin - have been put on hold.
- In Feb., Pres. Biden signed an executive order to allow $3.5B of the frozen funds to be used to tackle Afghanistan's economic and humanitarian crisis as millions face starvation.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Business Insider. While the Taliban has committed atrocities as Afghanistan's governing body since the US withdrawal, these funds still belong to the Afghan people and should be released immediately to help alleviate life-threatening economic and starvation problems. The Afghan people didn't elect the Taliban and shouldn't be unfairly punished for the transgressions of their oppressors.
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by CNN. The US simply releasing these funds will not automatically solve Afghan's economic problems. Before any money can be sent to Kabul, the Biden admin. must first ensure it will be going toward humanitarian aid and not toward terrorist operations. So far, there are no safeguards in place to guarantee this, and the fact that Zawahiri was hidden in Kabul can only raise further suspicions.