By Nick Clark
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US sanctions starve over 24 million Afghans

Both the aftermath of military occupation and imperialist power plays are starving a majority of Afghans, reports Nick Clark
Issue 2783
An Afghan girl in Khost province, east Afghanistan.

An Afghan girl in Khost province, east Afghanistan. (Credit: Str/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Tens of millions of people in Afghanistan face famine as international economic sanctions on the government—led by the US—bite.

The crisis is both a legacy of two decades of war and Western ­military occupation and the West’s punishment of Afghanistan’s new Taliban government.

The United Nations World Food Programme has said that almost 24 million people in Afghanistan—some 60 percent of the population—suffer acute hunger. And nearly nine million people are close to starvation.

It expects that more than 3 ­million children under the age of five will suffer acute malnutrition by the end of the year.

Some Western NGOs and media reports pin at least part of the blame on the Taliban government, which took control in August this year.

The reactionary government has placed bans and restrictions on the ability of women to work.

Women are now only allowed to work in certain sectors such as education. 

They also need a male family member to escort them to and from work. That’s not always possible for people whose male family members have been killed, forced to flee or are otherwise absent.

But the main cause of hunger is the economic sanctions on the Taliban enforced by the US.

The West’s invasion and ­occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 installed a corrupt, puppet government dependent on US dollars, international aid and NGOs.

Even before the Taliban took over, Afghanistan’s Western-backed government was failing to pay the salaries of public sector workers.

Hatred of the occupation and the government among ordinary people allowed the Taliban to ­overthrow the government and force the US out.

The Taliban had spent two ­decades organising armed ­resistance to the occupation among the rural poor. Now the US and other ­governments are punishing the Taliban with economic isolation, using concerns about human rights as an excuse.

Western countries have cut off the direct financial payments to Afghanistan that funded three ­quarters of the previous ­government’s budget. The US also froze £7.2 ­billion of Afghanistan’s central bank assets held abroad in US dollars.

It left the Taliban ­government with just 0.2 percent of Afghanistan’s international currency reserves.

The Taliban responded by ­limiting ordinary people’s cash withdrawals to just £150 a week as food prices soared.

Jean Martin-Bauer of the World Food Programme said, “Afghanistan is all of a sudden cut off from the rest of the world, in financial terms. Of course that’s going to have severe impacts on people.

“If you have no work, your entire family relies on you, you can’t access your savings and food prices are rising, that’s really painful.”

The hunger in Afghanistan isn’t caused by some natural disaster, or exclusively the Taliban.

It’s because the US is desperate to impose its control on the Middle East—and will starve ordinary people to do it.

Greens abandon any climate radicalism  

Germany is set to have a new government in place before the end of the year. But hopes of a radical Green shift on climate change look to have been dashed.

The announcement last week of a coalition deal between the Labour-like SPD, the Green Party and the pro-business FDP party is a cause for celebration among “centrists”.

It’s a deal creating political and pro-business economic stability they say.

But for the Greens, the deal is causing a political crisis. The party’s vote was swelled by demands for radical climate action

But in its bid for power, the party has retreated. Not only is the coalition commitment to end the use of coal in Germany by 2030 prefixed by the word “ideally”, but the party allowed the FDP to control crucial finance and transport ministry.

Many Green supporters wanted a radical agenda, with restrictions on emissions. Millions of SPD voters too wanted change, especially on rights at work.

But the new coalition offers little on those fronts. For now the governing coalition looks stable, but that may change when the Green’s compromises become reality.

Revolt spreads across French ‘overseas territories’ 

Revolts that swept the French “overseas territories” of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean have now spread to French Polynesia in the South Pacific.

Several Polynesian trade union federations began a strike last week in the public and private sectors.

Workers are demanding pay rises and an end to mandatory vaccinations.

Meanwhile the French government has postponed implementing a Covid-19 vaccination mandate for health workers in Martinique and Guadeloupe. This follows explosive protests that included road blockades and strikes.

Those who refused jabs were given unpaid leave. More time will now be given for individual “dialogue” with their managers while still getting paid.

The concessions are a reaction to riots that intensified.

“Last night in Martinique was clearly more intense than the nights before,” a local spokesperson for the French state said last Friday.

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