One month after the fall of Kabul, the economic crisis haunts the Taliban

September 15 (Reuters) – One month after conquering Kabul, the Taliban are facing enormous problems as they try to convert their military lightning victory into a lasting peace government.

After four decades of war and tens of thousands of deaths, security has largely improved, but Afghanistan’s economy remains in ruins despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on development over the past 20 years.

Drought and famine are driving thousands https://www.reuters.com/video/watch/idPxFY?now=true from the countryside to the cities, and the World Food Program fears that food may run out by the end of the month and is pushing for up to 14 million people are on the verge of starvation.

While much attention in the West has been directed to whether the new Taliban government keeps its promises to protect women’s rights or to protect militant groups like al-Qaeda, survival is paramount for many Afghans.

“Every Afghan, children, they are hungry, they do not have a single sack of flour or cooking oil,” said Abdullah, who lives in Kabul.

Long lines still form outside the banks, where weekly withdrawal limits of $ 200 or 20,000 afghanis have been imposed to protect the country’s dwindling reserves.

Impromptu markets have sprung up all over Kabul in which people sell household goods for cash, even though there is a shortage of buyers.

Even with billions of dollars in development aid, Afghanistan’s economy struggled as growth failed to keep pace with steady population growth. Jobs are scarce and many government employees have been unpaid for at least July.

While most people seem to have welcomed the end of the fighting, any relief has been dampened by the near halt in the economy.

“Security is pretty good at the moment, but we don’t earn anything,” said a butcher from the Bibi Mahro district in Kabul, who refused to give his name. “Every day it’s getting worse, more bitter for us. It’s a really bad situation.”

AID FLIGHTS

Following the chaotic evacuation of Kabul from abroad last month, first aid flights have started when the airport reopens.

International donors have pledged over $ 1 billion https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-seeks-600-million-avert-afghanistan-humanitarian-crisis-2021-09-12 to prevent what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that it could be “the collapse of an entire country”.

But the global reaction to the government of Taliban veterans and hardliners announced last week was cool https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/world-wary-taliban-government-afghans-urge-action-rights- economy -2021-09-08, and there was no sign of international recognition or steps to release more than $ 9 billion in foreign exchange reserves outside of Afghanistan.

Although Taliban officials have said they do not intend to repeat the harsh fundamentalist rule of the previous government that followed the 9/11 attacks.

Widespread reports of civilians killed https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-rights-boss-says-has-credible-reports-taliban-executions-2021-08-24 and beaten journalists and others and doubts as to whether the Taliban’s Islamic interpretation of the law really respects women’s rights have undermined trust.

In addition, there is deep distrust of high-level government officials such as the new Secretary of the Interior, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is described by the United States as a global terrorist with a $ 10 million bounty on his head.

To make matters worse for the Taliban, the movement had to combat speculation about deep internal divisions within its own ranks and deny rumors https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-deny-their-deputy – Prime Minister-mullah-baradar-is-dead-2021-09-14 that Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar was killed in a shootout with Haqqani supporters.

Officials say the government is working to restart services and the roads are now safe, but as the war subsides, solving the economic crisis is emerging as a bigger problem.

“The thefts have disappeared. But bread has also disappeared,” said one shopkeeper.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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