IEA slams Washington’s Afghan Fund move, says it’s an ‘illegal venture’
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said the United States’ decision to transfer $3.5 billion of the country’s frozen foreign reserves to a Swiss fund without any input from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) was unacceptable and a violation of international norms.
In a statement issued by the ministry, it said: “The Islamic Emirate, as an accountable government to its people, expresses its explicit opposition to the specific iteration of this mechanism.
The foreign ministry said if the reserves are disbursed without taking into consideration legitimate demands of the Afghans, the Islamic Emirate “will be forced to impose fines against, and ban activities of, all individuals, institutions and companies that facilitate this illegal venture and seek to misuse Central Bank reserves for humanitarian and other purposes.
“The reserves of the Central Bank, like those of other states, are used for currency stabilization, strengthening financial systems and facilitating international transactions. These reserves can never be used for any disbursement purposes.
“Disbursing these reserves for other purposes without the express agreement of the Afghan people is a negative step against Afghan economic stability taken by the United States,” the statement read.
The ministry said Washington had taken this step without finalizing negotiations or reaching an agreement with the IEA, “showing ill faith to undermine economic stability and well-being of the Afghans.”
According to the ministry, “despite commitments to and compliance with international financial practices by the Central Bank of Afghanistan, a decision has been made to forcibly transfer the wealth of the Afghan people to another country.
“We therefore call on all individuals and sides to condemn this illegal and oppressive action and support the Afghan people on this issue. Through this statement, we would like to present our objection to the countries and institutions involved in this issue and we will continue to monitor the situation through diplomatic channels.”
The ministry stated that “the principle causes of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan are the twenty-year American war, endemic corruption by the US-backed administration, and, following the change in government, the imposition of sanctions against Afghanistan and its banking sector, which has prevented investors benefiting from newly created economic opportunities.”
“We again urge the United States of America to unfreeze the reserves and lift restrictions on financial systems of the Afghan people so that they may have access to banking systems and stabilize their economy,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, the US State Department announced that Washington, in coordination with international partners including the Government of Switzerland and Afghan economic experts, has established the Afghan Fund, which will see the money transferred to a Swiss bank.
On Thursday, DAB issued a statement asking for the decision to be reconsidered.
In a press briefing on Wednesday night, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “Today, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury, in coordination with international partners including the Government of Switzerland and Afghan economic experts, announced the establishment of a fund to benefit the people of Afghanistan.”
“This fund will protect and preserve the Afghan central bank reserves, while making targeted disbursements to help stabilize Afghanistan’s economy and, ultimately, support its people and work to alleviate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis,” he said.
He stated the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is “not a part of this financing mechanism and resources disbursed will be for the benefit of the Afghan people, with clear safeguards and auditing in place to protect against diversion or misuse.”
He said however that the Afghan Fund is “explicitly not intended to make humanitarian disbursements. The Afghan Fund itself is to facilitate macroeconomic stability inside Afghanistan.”
“This is not what that fund is for. This fund is to provide macroeconomic stability in Afghanistan that will enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance from the United States and other donors.”
Greece arrests two Pakistani men with links to Iran for ‘planning attack’
Greek police told AFP they had arrested two young Pakistanis of Iranian origin over planned anti-Semitic attacks in central Athens, as Israel accused Tehran of being behind the plot.
Israel said it was a fresh attempt by arch-foe Iran “to promote terror against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad,” AFP reported.
“After the investigation of the suspects in Greece, the Mossad helped untangle the intelligence of the network, its operational methods and ties to Iran,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, referring to Israel’s national intelligence agency.
“As part of the investigation, it emerged that the infrastructure in Greece was part of a broad Iranian network, operated from Iran toward many countries,” a statement said.
Greek police spokeswoman Konstantina Dimoglidou told AFP the “mastermind” of the cell is “a Pakistani who lives outside Europe.”
A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the person lived in Iran.
“After coordinated actions by the Greek police and the National Intelligence Service, a terrorist network was dismantled which, from abroad, was planning strikes against carefully selected targets on Greek territory,” a police statement said.
Police said the network had “already chosen the target of the attack” and were planning how to execute it, AFP reported.
Greece’s Jewish community numbers around 5,000.
The Greek police source told AFP the two Pakistanis of Iranian origin were aged 27 and 29 and were planning attacks on areas frequented by Israelis in central Athens.
The source said the men were targeting a building which houses a synagogue and a Jewish restaurant.
The mobile phones of the two arrested men had allowed investigators to capture conversations, videos and sketches of the places targeted, according to the same source.
The country has not been the target of any terrorist attacks in recent years.
Greek police said the suspects were trying to undermine state security and its “international relations.”
Afghanistan makes history after beating Pakistan in T20I series
Afghanistan made history on Sunday night when they beat long-time rival Pakistan in their second successive T20I match in Sharjah to win the series.
Sunday’s match saw Afghanistan beat Pakistan by 7 wickets with one ball remaining.
This is the first time in Afghanistan’s cricketing history that they have beaten Pakistan in an international series and as fans back home and across the world erupted with joy after a nail-biting last two overs, congratulations started pouring in.
Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was a “momentous occasion for Afghanistan cricket!”
The board said in a tweet that the team had “created history by securing their first-ever T20I series win over traditional rivals Pakistan. It’s a triumph of grit, courage, and teamwork.”
Rashid Khan’s squad did indeed show grit, courage and teamwork and after winning the toss and opting to bat first, Pakistan faced an early blow from Fazalhaq Farooqi who dismissed Saim Ayub for a duck on the second ball of the innings.
He then trapped Abdullah Shafique LBW on the very next delivery to take Afghanistan to a dream start. Pakistan kept on losing wickets at regular intervals but Imad Wasim’s 64 not out off 57 and Shadab’s 32 off 25 took them to a respectable total.
Chasing a target of 131 runs, Afghanistan were calm and focused throughout the second innings but needing 30 runs off the last three overs, and 22 from the last two overs.
However Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi hit a six each off pace bowler Naseem Shah in the penultimate over to reduce the target to five runs. Zadran then hit the winning boundary off Zaman Khan’s last over to chase down the 131-run target with one ball to spare.
This was Afghanistan’s first bilateral T20I series against any of the top six teams — India, England, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
They have previously won a T20I series each against the West Indies and Bangladesh and five in five against Zimbabwe.
Khalilzad slams ‘brutal’ but ‘failed’ regime in Iran
Former US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Sunday called the Iranian regime a “political and economic failure at home and a growing threat to the region and the world”.
In an interview with UK-based Iran International, Khalilzad said the Tehran regime has lost the support of the Iranian people.
Following up with a detailed tweet after the interview, the former envoy said the Iranian “regime rules through brutal suppression of those who back the Zan (women), Zendagi (life), and Azadi (freedom) movements.
Referring to the ongoing poisoning mystery, he said “many female students have been poisoned at school.”
He also lashed out and said: “Iran has become the capital of al-Qaeda, is determined to acquire nuclear weapons, and provides military support to Russia in its aggression in Ukraine.”
Khalilzad also stated that the Iranian regime “might well use al-Qaeda to target regime opponents abroad and former US officials it has declared it wants to kill.”
He said the Biden administration and US Congress needs to increase support for Iran’s democratic opposition, isolate Iran internationally, press allies to declare Iran’s special military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a terrorist organization, and downgrade relations with the regime by withdrawing their Ambassadors.
“We must increase sanctions, especially stopping the import of Iranian oil. We must also strengthen deterrence against potential Iranian aggression,” he said.
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