U.S. Asks United Nations to Prolong Taliban's Journey-Ban Waiver – WSJ

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The U.S. is pushing to increase a United Nations waiver on a journey ban towards the Taliban, Western officers say, an effort meant to facilitate negotiations with the group and a part of the U.S.’s broader diplomatic overture to encourage the group to abide by its human rights and antiterror commitments.

If authorised by the U.N. Security Council, the extension of the waiver would permit a Taliban delegation to journey to Doha, Qatar, the place negotiations with U.S. officers have sometimes been held. The present waiver expires subsequent week and the Security Council on Tuesday is anticipated to think about extending it. The waiver would additionally permit entry to banking providers whereas touring.

“I think it will be extended by Wednesday,” mentioned Eoghan McSwiney, a senior diplomat at Ireland’s mission to the U.N. He mentioned the present proposal is to permit a three-month waiver for a similar people beforehand authorised to journey.

“There’s a general understanding that they’ll need to be able to travel to continue to facilitate talks, whatever the future of Afghanistan looks like,” he mentioned.

“Discussions are under way on [the] possible extension” of the journey waivers, added a diplomat on the Security Council. “The decision will have to be taken by consensus, as is the case with decisions of the sanctions committees,” he mentioned.

Besides the U.S. and Ireland—which holds the Council’s rotating presidency—different members embody the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia.

“This exemption has facilitated in-person communications between the Taliban and U.S. and other international officials, allowing us to state clearly our expectations for their behavior,’’ said a spokesman for the U.S. mission at the U.N. “Of course, safe passage remains a high priority for the United States and others in the international community,” he added, referring to Americans, different expats and Afghan allies attempting to depart the county.

As the U.S. grapples with the way to deal with each the short-term disaster of its pullout from Afghanistan and the long-term actuality of getting to now deal with the Taliban because the nation’s ruling energy, the Biden administration has been cautious of each upsetting the group with extra sanctions and easing the strain marketing campaign towards them.

U.N. member nations agreed below Security Council sanctions levied after the Sept. 11 assaults twenty years in the past to forestall blacklisted Taliban members from touring outdoors Afghanistan. A slim exemption to that journey ban—permitting restricted journey by just a few named people—was initially issued in 2019 by the U.N. Security Council to facilitate peace talks in Qatar to finish a conflict between the Islamist faction and the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities.

The sanctions additionally require blocking and freezing Taliban property.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second from proper, with different members of the Taliban negotiating workforce in Doha, Qatar, in July.


Kate Brooks/Redux Pictures for The Wall Street Journal

But opposite to its commitments within the peace deal reached in February 2020 with the Trump administration, the Taliban took benefit of the agreed U.S. pullout to grab management of the nation, taking up the capital and the federal government in mid-August. U.S. officers say the Taliban are violating the phrases by persevering with to permit al Qaeda’s presence within the nation and hindering asylum seekers from leaving Afghanistan.

The Taliban, in the meantime, say the U.S. isn’t honoring its commitments made in 2020 to carry sanctions towards the group.

“The United States has made a commitment in this regard but has not fulfilled it yet,” mentioned Anas Haqqani, a senior chief of the Taliban whose brother heads the terrorist-designated Haqqani community, on Thursday in a gathering with international journalists in Kabul.

U.S. officers say its dedication to think about lifting sanctions and to ask the U.N. to do the identical was contingent on the Taliban complying with the deal’s phrases.

In the wake of the Taliban’s seizure of the nation, the Biden administration has been weighing the way to leverage the sanctions and Afghanistan’s financing wants in its post-takeover talks with the Taliban.

Among the 11 members of the Taliban at present allowed to journey are Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the top of the Taliban’s political workplace who’s now performing first deputy prime minister of Afghanistan. The waiver permits them to journey to an unspecified vary of locations for the aim of peace negotiations. It is but unclear how broadly the brand new exemption would permit the Taliban representatives to journey.

“These exemptions were for the benefit of talks with the Afghan government,” mentioned a European official aware of the proposed exemption. “That government no longer exists.”

The waiver extension is probably going to attract additional criticism from some Republican lawmakers who’ve criticized the Biden administration’s overtures to the Taliban, however U.S. and allied officers say their therapy of the brand new authorities in Afghanistan can be decided by the Taliban’s conduct.

“We will calibrate our method to the Taliban based on the actions they take,’’ Barbara Woodward, the U.Ok.’s ambassador to the U.N., mentioned at a Security Council assembly Friday.

Ghulam Isaczai, who was appointed Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.N. below the previous authorities and continues to be handled because the nation’s envoy by the Security Council, final week urged towards an extension of the travel-ban waiver.

“Any further extension of the mechanism would be misused for the purpose of gaining international recognition for their new noninclusive government,” he mentioned.

Afghanistan Under Taliban Rule

Write to Benoit Faucon at [email protected] and Ian Talley at [email protected]

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