The United States said yesterday it would press the United Nations to maintain some sanctions against Afghanistan after the Taliban-era restrictions expire later this month because of the lingering presence of the hard-line militia in the war-ravaged country.
Sanctions on Ariana Afghan Airlines, meanwhile, could be lifted as early as tomorrow at a meeting of the U.N. Sanctions Committee, a U.S. official said.
Washington called on the U.N. Security Council, of which the United States is a permanent member, to replace Resolution 1333 from Dec. 19, 2000, with a new document “that reflects changes in the situation” in Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted from power.
“We will urge that sanctions remain on any remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters, referring to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. “We would expect the Security Council to continue to update the sanctions and for the Sanctions Committee to update implementation of the sanctions.”
Another official said later that, while sanctions hurting the Afghan people and tying the hands of the new interim administration should be lifted, some restrictions on former Taliban officials and members of government institutions with links to al Qaeda should remain.
“The current sanctions regime doesn’t allow us to go after those people,” the official said, “and they are not covered by Resolution 1373 against terrorist organizations, either, because they are not really terrorists. There is not enough blanket to go after them.”
Mr. Boucher said that although such individuals “would be covered probably under the various financial controls,” it is “important for all countries in the world to maintain similar sets of restrictions.”
“If you had these individuals running around the world more freely, [being] able to transfer money and finance their activities, who knows what they might get up to,” he said. “So it’s important for the U.N. to maintain some controls in that direction.”
The United Nations, which never recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government, first imposed sanctions against the Kabul regime for harboring terrorists in October 1999, more than a year after the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
On Sept. 28, in the wake of the terrorists attacks in New York and the Pentagon, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1373, which bans member states from financing terrorist activities and demands that they freeze all assets of terrorist organizations in their territories.
In another development in the battle against terrorism, the United States said that financial concerns, rather than a shift in policy, led to the suspension of major payments to the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC) last week.
“This is a question of financial controls, not about policies or questions about individual programs,” Mr. Boucher said. “It remains fundamental to U.S. policy that regime change would be good for the Iraqi people, as well as for the people of the region.”
Last week, the Bush administration told the London-based INC that because of weaknesses in its financial-management plan and inadequate accounting procedures, all U.S. funding, except for $500,000 for operating expenses until Jan. 31, would be stopped until improvements were made.
The INC, which received $97 million from Congress under the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act, wants the United States to pay for operations inside Iraq. However, Washington has demanded that the group build a strong organizational structure and attract a wider following before it would support such activities.