Xinhua Commentary: Washington needs to take historical responsibility for war-torn Afghanistan-Xinhua

Xinhua Commentary: Washington needs to take historical responsibility for war-torn Afghanistan

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-07-01 14:42:00

by Xinhua writers Zhao Jiasong, Zou Xuemian

KABUL, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Washington can't shake off its responsibility of amending the damage it had caused to Afghanistan, a call made by the Afghan public and the international community for the participating parties at the third round of UN-convened talks on Afghanistan being held in Doha, the Qatari capital.

At the end of August 2021, the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan after two decades of war, leaving a war-battered and even more impoverished country behind.

"We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. And it's the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country." That's what U.S. President Joe Biden has claimed on the U.S. army's withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2021.

As irony would have it, Washington, as the president's remarks suggested, was blatant to assume moral high ground after 20 years of chaos and bloodshed. The reality of the violent history won't be altered as the war killed 174,000 Afghans, including more than 30,000 civilians, and displaced nearly one-third of the population.

The United States has a "moral obligation" to Afghanistan and a responsibility to contribute to its economic reconstruction, said Jalal Bazwan, an expert in international relations at Kabul-based Kardan University.

An exploded bomb killed four children, who had mistaken it for a toy, in north Afghanistan's Faryab Province on June 16. Such tragic incidents, occurring with alarming frequency, underscore the lingering peril posed by the 1,228 cluster bombs with 248,056 bomblets dropped by U.S. forces in 2001 and 2002, according to the Cluster Munition Coalition.

Over 20 percent of the bombs do not explode on impact and remain active on the ground, being the source of civilian casualties, said medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders. The International Committee of the Red Cross pointed out that children are the most vulnerable victims of unexploded ordnance, noting in its report that 640 children were killed or injured in 541 incidents involving landmine explosions and explosive remnants between January 2022 and June 2023.

Unexploded bombs have led to grave consequences for Afghanistan's agriculture, on which the landlocked country's economy is mainly dependent, said Sadiq Shinwari, an Afghan military expert.

Afghanistan, among many countries, is bearing the brunt of coercive financial statecraft. The United States should stop exacerbating Afghansitan's predicament by freezing some 7 billion U.S. dollars' worth of assets of Afghanistan's central bank and imposing sanctions. These measures have further destabilized the Afghan economy, driving price rises and reducing international assistance.

An estimated 23.7 million Afghans require humanitarian aid in 2024 -- more than half of the country's population, with a staggering nine out of 10 people living in poverty. The Afghanistan Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan 2024 necessitates 3.06 billion U.S. dollars to 17.3 million Afghans targeted for assistance, but it had only received 16.2 percent of the required funds as of May 15.

Natural calamities, including last year's earthquake in the western Herat province and recent floods in the north, claimed nearly 3,000 lives, leading to an even direr humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Yet, U.S.-induced disaster is equally devastating. The war-ravaged infrastructure doubled the time required for aid to reach disaster zones. Sanctions on the banking system restricted withdrawals, leaving victims unable to access enough relief funds in time.

The U.S.-initiated sanctions imposed on the Afghan caretaker government have undermined vital humanitarian aid supply to the war-torn country, said Martin Schüepp, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "It is key that all sanctions have humanitarian exemptions, which allows humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC to operate and to be able to reach the people in need."

"It's time to accept that past policies have failed and that the United States and its allies must change course and commit to greater engagement," a New York Times opinion article said early this year.

Washington should realize that its old-fashioned wily evasion of responsibility has led to everlasting hardship and unrest in Afghanistan. It is time for Uncle Sam to engage with the international community to take the first solid step in Doha and set the stage for Afghanistan's stability and prosperity.