Republicans press Biden administration to maintain sanctions against Taliban

Greg Nash

House Republicans are pressing the Biden administration to maintain sanctions against the Taliban a month after the group took control of Afghanistan. 

A letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, signed by 21 GOP House members, details their “deep concern” at the news “that the Biden administration is considering supporting the lifting of United Nations sanctions on the Taliban.”

In order to avoid legitimizing the Taliban, the letter states the U.S. must maintain sanctions such as the travel ban, arms embargo and asset freezes.

“The Biden Administration has maintained that the Taliban desires international legitimacy and financing,” it says. “That legitimacy and funding must be denied while American citizens, Afghan partners, and others remain behind enemy lines, while the Taliban continues to maintain ties to al Qaeda and harbors terrorists that seek to harm Americans and our allies, and while the Taliban refuses to respect and protect the rights of all Afghan citizens.”

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) is the lead signatory of the letter, which follows a United Nations Security Council resolution, proposed at the end of August and supported by the U.S., that would ease sanctions on the Taliban.

It also comes after U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and Deborah Lyons, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, told the U.N. Security Council last week that some funds need to be released to Afghanistan in order to avoid a “severe economic downturn.”

Guterres stated that an economic collapse in Afghanistan and a failure to unfreeze the country’s assets could be beneficial for terrorist groups. Lyons said there could be conditions placed on the money to make sure the Taliban doesn’t abuse it.

Others are skeptical, maintaining the Taliban would not adhere to conditions placed on the funds by Western governments.

The U.S. announced on Monday it would send $64 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after the U.N. said the country needed money to prevent a famine. 

Barr, the ranking member of the House Financial Services subcommittee on national security, introduced legislation last month aiming to block the Taliban from accessing money from the International Monetary Fund. 

Tuesday’s letter says the U.S. has to “maintain what little leverage this administration has left in place” in order to help evacuate Afghan allies and Americans who are still trapped in the country.

Updated at 1:22 p.m.

Tags Afghanistan aid Andy Barr Linda Thomas-Greenfield Taliban US-Afghanistan relations

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