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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 09:45 GMT
New UN sanctions on Taleban
Un staff in Pakistan
UN staff leave Kabul as the deadline approaches
By Kate Clark in Kabul

The UN Security Council has imposed fresh sanctions against the Taleban in Afghanistan after they failed to hand over Osama Bin Laden.

Mr Bin Laden, a Saudi dissident and millionaire, is wanted by the United States for the bombing of two American embassies in which over 200 people were killed.

New UN sanctions
Embargo on arms sales and military aid.
Withdrawal of foreign military advisors
Closure of all Taleban offices overseas.
Closure of Ariana Afghan Airlines' overseas offices
Freeze on assets of Osama bin Laden and associates
Overseas travel ban on senior Taleban officials
Ban on selling heroin-making chemicals to the Taleban
The Security Council also wants the closure of military camps, where it says foreign Islamic militants are being trained.

In 1999, when sanctions were first imposed on the Taleban, there were angry demonstrations against the UN, but the streets of Kabul are calm this time.

A Taleban official was defiant in the face of the new sanctions.

"We will never expel him [Mr Bin Laden] by force, but he can leave if he wishes," Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal said.

Fear and confusion

The Taleban took a decision not to organise protests against the new sanctions, but they have run a highly successful publicity campaign from the mosques and state-run media, condemning the measures as cruel and ruthless and a conspiracy against the Afghan people and against Islam itself.

Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden: Said to be behind US embassy bombings
"Islamic countries should not stay silent anymore, rather they should embark on bold deeds," Mr Jamal said.

The result has been widespread fear and confusion.

Most Afghans seem to think the UN is imposing an economic blockade, or even stopping its aid programme.

Many fear that prices will rise and food will be in short supply.

'Targeted' sanctions

But the drafters of the resolution say they designed the sanctions to target the Taleban only.

The issue is terrorism, not Islam. The UN has imposed sanctions on the Taleban because the Taleban support international terrorism, not because Afghans are Muslims

US statement
The measures include a ban on senior officials travelling abroad, the closure of most Taleban overseas offices, and a unilateral arms embargo.

For the first time in a sanctions resolution, there will be mandatory monitoring of the humanitarian impact.

A statement released by the US embassy in Pakistan defended the sanctions.

"The sanctions are political and not economic. They do not prohibit private sector trade and commerce, including the importation of food and medicines," the statement said.

Controversial measures

Nevertheless, these are highly controversial measures. They have drawn public criticism from the aid community and from many within the UN, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

They fear that any economic impact, however indirect, could be a severe blow to Afghans, struggling to survive in a war-ruined country and suffering from the worst drought in living memory.

There is also widespread concern that the arms embargo that affects only the Taleban amounts to the UN taking sides in the long-running Afghan civil war.

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See also:

19 Jan 01 | South Asia
Afghan fears over UN sanctions
12 Dec 00 | South Asia
UN staff leaving Afghanistan
08 Dec 00 | South Asia
Pakistan attacks Afghan sanctions
07 Dec 00 | South Asia
US and Russia unite against Taleban
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Who is Osama bin Laden?
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