A group of former U.S. ambassadors has called on the United Nations to reimpose travel restrictions on Taliban leaders in response to the radical group increasingly reverting to its practices from the years when it first ruled Afghanistan.
In a letter published by the Atlantic Council think tank on August 3, the six former diplomats said the killing last week of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul, where he had taken shelter in a safe house, highlighted the Taliban’s continued close ties with the terrorist group, despite denying such ties since returning to power last year following the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces.
Furthermore, after returning to power in August, the Taliban has steadily reimposed extreme restrictions on human rights, especially targeting women and girls "by refusing them education, restricting their travel, dictating their dress, and limiting their movement," it added.
"The bottom line remains: If the United States cannot find any actions to support its words, then its words are hollow. The women of Afghanistan will remain unsupported, and the terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan will remain --no matter what Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior U.S. and partner nation officials say," the letter says. "Reimposing the travel ban is one of the few actions the United States can take to show that it’s serious. It should use this opportunity."
The letter was signed by James Cunningham, Ryan Crocker, Hugo Llorens, P. Michael McKinley, Ronald E. Neumann, and Earl Anthony Wayne, all of whom held positions at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan over the past 15 years.
A U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban in late 2001 following proof that the radical group had sheltered and aided Osama bin Laden in his September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, which killed some 3,000 people.
In the agreement signed with the United States in February 2020, the group's leaders vowed not to harbor terrorist groups once U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan and subsequently pledged to respect women's rights in line with Islamic traditions.
"The juxtaposition of the Taliban’s evident and continuing support for international terrorism and the violation of the most fundamental rights of women and others justifies a next step in demonstrating global rejection of what they stand for," the letter said.
The UN travel-ban waiver was originally granted to Taliban leaders in 2019 to allow them to travel to peace negotiations.
"But the Taliban now takes advantage of it to allow its leaders to take business-class jaunts to multiple foreign capitals and conferences in efforts to bolster their perceived legitimacy," the letter said, urging the UN Security Council to rescind the waiver when it comes up for review later this month.