In a joint message, a dozen former US generals and ambassadors said: “Afghanistan needs a stable medium of exchange and a functioning banking system to avoid experiencing widespread economic and governance failure.”
In a joint message released by the Atlantic Council, they said the US had a reputational interest and a moral obligation in vigorously joining efforts to help the Afghans preserve some of the gains made over the last 20 years.
Three of the signatories – Generals John Campbell, John Nicholson and David Petraeus – have commanded US and NATO forces in Afghanistan while two others – Ryan Crocker and Richard Olson – have served as US ambassadors to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Thy wrote: “We believe that ways to do so can be found, while erecting barriers to assistance being diverted to purposes other than those for which it is intended.”
The signatories added even under Taliban control, the Afghan civil society continued to exist, and it was important that the United States and other international donors continue to work with it.
The former generals and diplomats warned Afghanistan’s banking system was on the verge of collapse and the local currency was losing value rapidly.
A prolonged drought, a raging Covid-19 pandemic and the disintegration of government services had worsened the situation, they noted.
They reminded the US that Afghan health professionals, teachers and other workers must be paid if the most basic functions of the state were to be maintained.
The generals and diplomats wrote: “Ordinary Afghans deserve access to their own funds, now frozen in banks, wary of US and international sanctions and the potential collapse of the Afghan financial system,”
They underlined the need to revive the Afghan banking system, saying the Afghans abroad also needed financial mechanisms to send remittances to their relatives.
The Biden administration, however, remains reluctant to do anything that helps the Taliban regime, but media reports indicate that US policy makers were considering various options to stabilise the Afghan currency and avert the collapse of the banking system.