OCT 27, 2022 – DAILY SABAH
‘Afghanistan, in 2022 is a country in economic turmoil. I underline economic because it is no longer a country in political turmoil’
Last week I mentioned my trip to Afghanistan and wrote about the interviews I conducted there.
In September 2021, when the United States and NATO forces withdrew from the country and the Taliban swiftly took control, I traveled to the capital Kabul to see the transformation: Only to find a country without a government. There was no passport control at the borders; the borders were closed on paper but open in reality; hundreds of armed men, among which there were ordinary citizens besides the Taliban fighters, were on the streets and the best word to describe Afghanistan of 2021 was “chaos.”
Now, after a year, I again found a country that seems one of the most chaotic in the world, but I would rather describe it this time with a different word, “turmoil.” Afghanistan, in 2022 is a country in economic turmoil. I underline “economic” because it is no longer a country in political turmoil. For better or worse, the Taliban has succeeded in controlling vast parts of the territory. However, since its government is not recognized internationally, there is almost no economic activity in the country; the financial system is blocked and the country’s frozen money in the World Bank brings Afghanistan to a halt.
Interview with Taliban spokesperson
While I was there, I interviewed Zebiullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the Taliban government. He stated that money must flow into the country for the Afghan people to survive, their country’s money must be released and the government must be recognized. However, one of the biggest obstacles hindering recognition is the decision by the Taliban government to block girls from attending school after the sixth grade.
When I said this to Mr. Mujahid, he told me that there is a discussion going on about this issue – which might be a positive sign for change – but he added that other countries should not interfere in their internal affairs and their government would not tolerate this.
During my trip, I also had the opportunity to visit the U.N. Center in Kabul and interviewed the Deputy Special Envoy of the United Nations to Afghanistan, Mr. Ramiz Alakbarov.
Mr. Alakbarov gave me numbers concerning the aid coming to the country but he said that the more the economic activity remains interrupted, the more the Afghans become dependent on foreign aid. He said that providing jobs to 2 million people is much cheaper and wiser than feeding 20 million.
Before and after
I asked for comparisons between before and after the Taliban era. He gave a very interesting detail. He said that during the old regime, most of the rural areas were in the crossfire, and there was no control over vast territories by the government, so the U.N. had limited access to people. Now since the Taliban took control, the clashes – to a greater degree – have come to an end so U.N. aid workers can enter the villages they had not been able to enter for many years.
Regarding Afghanistan, one of the most crucial topics is women. Girls cannot continue their education and many women are thrown out of the workforce due to the strict regulations imposed by the new regime. How does the future look for women? Can they speak out?
I will provide the answers to these questions in my next article.