UN Strengthens Sanctions against Taliban

Published December 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The UN Security Council has slapped broader sanctions against the ruling Taliban militia in Afghanistan for its alleged support for "international terrorists." 

The Security Council on Tuesday imposed an arms embargo, reinforced its existing air embargo, ordered the closing of the group's offices abroad, and forbade Taliban officials to leave Afghanistan. 

The resolution, presented by the United States and Russia, was passed with 13 votes. China and Malaysia abstained from the vote. 

The council reiterated a demand that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden, the Saudi dissident and billionaire indicted in the United States for his alleged role in US embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998. 

The Security Council resolution also demanded that the Taliban close down "all camps where terrorists are trained within the territory under its control." 

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia angrily denounced the UN resolution early Wednesday and accused the world body of being an enemy of Islam. 

"The United Nations has no clue. They use Osama when they do not have something else. Our policy on Osama will remain the same," Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told reporters Wednesday in Kabul. 

"This is an issue against our Islamic system. We cannot change our system because America wants us to. Nor can we behave as they want," Jamal said. 

The Taliban representative at the UN, Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, issued a statement saying peace negotiations with the opposition would no longer take place under UN auspices. 

"Since the UN Security Council so illegally and inhumanely rewards Afghanistan with more suffering, Afghanistan's government will cease all negotiations under UN auspices," the statement said. "We will negotiate with the opposition directly or through other institutions." 

Financial sanctions and sanctions against Ariana Afghan Airlines were imposed by the UN last year after the Islamic militia refused to extradite bin Laden. 

The latest resolution requires states to deny any aircraft permission to land or over-fly their territories if it is coming from, or is destined for, a Taliban-controlled part of Afghanistan.  

The resolution also notes that Afghanistan benefits directly from illegal opium production and bans the import of all precursor chemicals used in the elaboration of heroin, a hard drug derived from opium. 

The sanctions will go into effect in one month and will last for a period of 12 months that can be renewed -- a provision requested by France, which is campaigning for time limits on all sanctions regimes. 

Alternate US representative at the United Nations Nancy Soderberg told the council, "With this important action today, the Security Council sends an unequivocal message to the Taliban: end your support for terrorism. Let us hope that they will at last heed our call."  

The Taliban, who took power in 1996, control 90 percent of Afghanistan. An opposition alliance controls the other 10 percent. 

The United Nations has withdrawn all foreign staff from Afghanistan amid concern over potentially violent protests against the expected sanctions, officials in Kabul said Tuesday. 

UN and other foreign relief workers, many of whom have also left in recent days, supply crucial aid to hundreds of thousands of Afghans devastated by 20 years of civil war. The country is also suffering from its worst drought in 30 years. 

Doctors Without Borders on Tuesday issued a statement warning against "a serious human rights deterioration" in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of several non-governmental organizations. 

"Crucial relief operations have practically ground to a halt," the statement added. 

Ahead of Tuesday's vote, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, at his year-end news conference, criticized the broader sanctions as likely to hamper peace and humanitarian efforts. 

The sanctions are to come into effect in one month's time and last for one year in the absence of Taliban cooperation with the Council's demands -- KABUL (AFP) 



© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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