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Fact Sheet: U.N. Security Council Resolution on the Taliban
(Sanctions seek to avoid harm to Afghan people)
Fact Sheet: Questions and Answers About the New UNSC Resolution Targeted at the Taliban
QUESTION: What sanctions against the Taliban are proposed in the new United Nations Security Council resolution?
ANSWER: Because the Taliban have ignored their obligations under UNSC Resolution 1267 (1999) and have continued to threaten international peace and security, the new resolution calls for the Security Council to:
Until the Taliban fully comply with their obligations under this resolution and resolution 1267, the Security Council will:
QUESTION: The United States was always a good friend of Afghanistan, especially during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s. Why has the United States turned against Afghanistan?
ANSWER: This resolution is not against Afghanistan. It is certainly not against the Afghan people. It is narrowly targeted at the Taliban leadership. The United States opposes the dangerous and destructive policies of the Taliban, but the United States has not "turned against Afghanistan."
United States policy and the sanctions imposed against the Taliban by the international community are in no way intended to harm the Afghan people.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the suffering of the Afghan people. During 2000, the United States has provided the Afghan people about $113 million in humanitarian assistance, through international agencies and nongovernmental organizations. These funds provided food, shelter, land mine clearance, sanitation, and emergency drought relief. The Taliban, on the other hand, have failed to adequately address the needs of the Afghan people while at the same time spending vast sums on military arms and equipment to pursue a military option that will never bring lasting peace to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: In addition to the devastating effects of two decades of war, Afghans are suffering the worst drought in a generation. Won't this new resolution simply impose further suffering on the Afghan people?
ANSWER: No, it will not. We have carefully examined the humanitarian impact of UNSCR 1267, which has been in place for one year, and have found no significant humanitarian disruptions for the people of Afghanistan. We have studied the potential humanitarian impact of the sanctions in the new resolution and, again, have concluded that the humanitarian impact would be minimal. If, in fact, there is a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, we believe that the Taliban will cause it by rousing anger among the population against the United Nations and non-governmental organization that provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.
The new UNSC resolution is targeted at the Taliban leadership, not at the Afghan people. International agencies and nongovernmental organizations provide crucial food, medical, and other assistance to the people of Afghanistan. For the sake of the Afghan people especially vulnerable women and children the humanitarian-aid providers need to keep working. They will stop only if the Taliban cause them to stop.
The international community holds the Taliban responsible for providing adequate security to these humanitarian relief workers, and calls on the Taliban leadership to stop their inflammatory disinformation campaign that the United Nations and the international community seek to harm the people of Afghanistan with sanctions. This is a cynical and calculated lie on the part of the Taliban.
This Taliban disinformation could lead to violence against aid providers. If the Taliban create a situation that causes humanitarian international organizations to evacuate their personnel from Afghanistan, we believe that the Afghan people themselves will hold the Taliban responsible for such a negative development.
QUESTION: Some leaders of humanitarian organizations have recently told reporters that sanctions harm the ordinary people of Afghanistan. Should we not take their views into account?
ANSWER: We do respect their views. But we also believe it is important to understand that we will hold the Taliban responsible for any negative developments on the humanitarian front. Further, we believe it is important to understand how the Taliban are orchestrating their disinformation campaign and that there are facts, some from the Taliban themselves, that contradict their lies.
We repeat that the international community has no dispute with the people of Afghanistan and is keenly aware of their suffering. For this reason, the sanctions in both resolutions have been carefully written to ensure that they have a minimum impact on the Afghan people as opposed to the Taliban leadership.
Soon after UNSCR 1267 came into effect in December 1999, the official Taliban media complained that the Afghan people would suffer because all mail was flown into and out of the country on Ariana Afghan Airlines, and Afghans would not be able to receive financial remittances and gift packages from abroad. Yet, on October 8, 2000, the Deputy Head of the Post Department, Ministry of Communications announced in Kabul that all mail was flowing normally via land transport to Pakistan and Iran.
On October 15, the Ministry of Public Health in Kabul complained to the Afghan news agency, Bakhtar, that UNSCR 1267 had led to a serious decline in public health in Afghanistan because Ariana Afghan Airlines is not able to fly in supplies for producing medicines at the Hoechst pharmaceutical factory, and because doctors and students are unable to fly to medical conferences and training seminars abroad.
QUESTION: Why is the military embargo only against the Taliban? Why not a comprehensive arms embargo against all parties conducting warfare in Afghanistan?
ANSWER: UNSC Resolution 1267 and the new resolution are targeted against the Taliban because they support terrorism and provide sanctuary to Usama bin Laden. They pose a threat to peace and security in the region and elsewhere in the world. The Taliban provide arms and weapons to train and equip international terrorists.
Military action will not bring peace to Afghanistan and relieve the suffering of the Afghan people. Military success is not the path for the Taliban or any other faction to gain international acceptance and assistance in rebuilding the country. The only way to end the conflict is through a political process of dialogue among all Afghans that will result in a tolerant and broad-based government.
The purpose of a comprehensive military embargo against the Taliban is to ensure that the Taliban understand the international community's conviction that negotiations must replace warfare in Afghanistan so that a broadly representative government can be established, and so that Afghanistan can begin its critically needed rehabilitation. We have every intention to continue to press the other factions involved in military action in Afghanistan to join with all other Afghans to seek a peaceful, political resolution.
QUESTION: United Nations Secretary General Annan's personal envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, has been working to broker a cease-fire and develop a peace process between the Taliban and the opposition forces led by Ahmed Shah Masood. Won't the new resolutions make his task all the harder?
ANSWER: We see no reason why sanctions against the Taliban leadership because of their support for terrorism should interfere with Ambassador Vendrell's peace efforts. The peace process and the sanctions are two different tracks. The sanctions against the Taliban leadership are essential because they threaten international and regional peace and security.
It is more apparent than ever that the peace that the Afghan people so desperately need cannot be attained through military action. We are deeply concerned that continued fighting in Afghanistan will lead to more civilian casualties and reprisals against civilians. Only a durable peace can end the cycle of violence in Afghanistan.
Therefore, we welcome Ambassador Vendrell's efforts to bring the parties together to negotiate a peaceful resolution and wish him success in his important mission.
QUESTION: Is it not true that the U.S. has colluded with Russia and India to back the leader of the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (UIFSA), Ahmed Shah Masood?
ANSWER: This is not true. The United States firmly believes that no faction on its own can bring peace and successfully govern Afghanistan. As long as one faction attempts to impose its will on the nation by force, it will face armed resistance to its goals.
The United States does not arm or equip any side in the Afghan conflict. We restrict our assistance to humanitarian aid, of which we are the largest single donor.
QUESTION: If the Taliban decisively defeat UIFSA leader Masood and warfare ceases in Afghanistan, will the U.S. and other countries recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, and will the Taliban gain Afghanistan's seat in the United Nations?
ANSWER: Although unlikely, a Taliban military defeat of UIFSA leader Masood will not lead to peace in Afghanistan. Military successes do not mean that the Taliban will gain either international acceptance or domestic stability. Armed resistance will continue because Afghans will not accept the foreign-influenced Taliban as legitimate rulers in Afghanistan. A more broadly based and traditionally tolerant alternative must be adopted.
Furthermore, international recognition and a seat in the United Nations are not dependent simply on military victory by one faction over another. A legitimate governing body gains respect and recognition by adhering to international norms, by performing the functions of a government, and by gaining the consent of the people it seeks to govern.
The Taliban must take action to stop Afghanistan from being a safe-haven and breeding ground for international terrorists; make significant progress on curbing the massive production and trafficking of narcotics; improve human rights for all citizens of Afghanistan, including women, girls, and members of religious minorities; and demonstrate that they enjoy the support of the Afghan people. If they do not, the Taliban have no hope of being recognized internationally as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: The mass media in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region are full of speculation about a pending U.S. military strike against the Taliban and Usama bin Laden. Will the United States take military action against the Taliban if they do not comply with the new UNSC resolution?
ANSWER: The resolution has no measure calling for military action. The Taliban continue to maintain that they have forbidden Usama bin Laden to interfere with any other country. They also claim that they have taken away his means of communication and that, although he is their "guest," bin Laden is virtually under house arrest in Afghanistan.
This is not true. He and others in his organization continue actively to plan terrorist acts against the United States and other countries. We have not yet concluded who was responsible for the recent attack in the Port of Aden in Yemen against the USS Cole. However, the investigation continues. As United States senior officials have said repeatedly, we do not rule out any option if the investigation into the USS Cole incident links bin Laden to this crime.
QUESTION: If the Taliban comply with the UNSC resolutions and hand over bin Laden to a place where he can be brought to justice, won't the U.S. find other reasons to keep the sanctions in place?
ANSWER: Both UNSCR 1267 and the new resolution clearly state conditions that must be met. If the Taliban appear to have met the conditions, the United States would work to see that the sanctions were lifted promptly.
QUESTION: Is not this new UNSC resolution really targeted against Pakistan as much as it is against the Taliban?
ANSWER: No, this is not true. The new resolution is targeted against all countries that provide war materiel and military advisers and trainers to the Taliban.
QUESTION: Is it not true that Pakistan is the largest single military supporter of the Taliban?
ANSWER: Pakistan's public foreign policy has for years called for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. The international community urges Pakistan to take the necessary actions to bring that policy to fruition.
QUESTION: This new Resolution contains language about narcotics. The Taliban have stated that they plan to reduce poppy cultivation significantly in Afghanistan and have called on the international community for assistance to reach this goal. Don't you believe them? Would it not be better to work with the Taliban, when they have stated their good intentions, rather than to punish them further?
ANSWER: Good intentions, plans, and a few demonstration projects for the benefit of international journalists, diplomats, and other observers do not prove a fundamental change in policy. However, if the Taliban, and other Afghan groups, prove by their deeds that they are making serious effort to control the rivers of narcotics flowing out of Afghanistan, then the international community should indeed take notice and find ways to cooperate with those Afghans.
QUESTION: Pakistan has repeatedly said that the best way to moderate the worst tendencies of the Taliban over the long term is to engage with them. Won't the prohibition of travel by Taliban officials prevent their exposure to moderating voices and experiences elsewhere in the world?
ANSWER: The new UNSC resolution does not prohibit senior Taliban officials from having contact with the rest of the world. The resolution specifically allows the UN Sanctions Committee to make case-by-case exemptions for senior Taliban officials to travel to promote compliance with UNSC resolutions, for discussions of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan, for verified humanitarian purposes, and for fulfilling religious obligations such as hajj.
QUESTION: All this pressure against the Taliban -- is it not really because the non-Muslim world is scared of the Taliban because they claim that they represent true Islam? Is not the West scared of the international resurgence of Islam? Does not the West oppose the Muslim ummah?
ANSWER: This is absolutely not true. By their actions in the United Nations and in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, it is clear that the great majority of Muslim countries do not accept the Taliban's sectarian and culturally-based interpretation of Islam. The Taliban have a radical political agenda. They use Islam to justify that agenda.
The United States and other non-Muslim-majority countries have no quarrel with Islam. We have a quarrel with the Taliban who use Islam to justify their illegal and dishonorable actions and policies.
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