About a month after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and formed a hitherto unrecognized government, Afghan diplomats abroad are without wages or subsidies and are living in a state of anxiety.
The salaries and contacts of the employees of the Afghan Embassy in Washington with Kabul have been cut, and now they are like tens of thousands of Afghans who have fled the country, unaware of what their future holds.
While in previously the Taliban had said they wanted international recognition and good diplomatic relations with the United States, contacts between Washington and the new interim government are currently limited to a few senior US diplomats and military officials.
In turn, Afghan embassy officials have spent most of the past few weeks working to address the humanitarian crisis, without establishing any official contact with the new government in Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Destiny in suspended
Many of them refused to recognize the Taliban government and today fear persecution or death if they return in Afghanistan.
Others preferred to wait before deciding whether to return to the country.
In parallel, many Afghan diplomats now communicate via their personal emails, considering the possibility that email accounts may be closed in any time.
Interestingly, the Afghan embassy is located in an approximately 100-year-old house in the Kalorama district of Washington. The black, red and green flag of the Republic of Afghanistan still flies in high above the main entrance, instead of the black and white flag of the Taliban-led Emirate of Afghanistan.
Strange paintings from the Mughal era still adorn many of the embassy walls. But the photos of former President Ashraf Ghani were immediately deleted after he fled the country on August 15.
No money and less expenses
For his part, Jawad Raha said the embassy spends the rest of its money on rent and diplomats’ salaries, noting that expenses have been cut on everything from TV subscriptions to payroll.
He also added that locally hired employees, including some Americans, have been told they will be laid off at the end of this month.
He also made it clear that the diplomats should return in Afghanistan if embassy funds run out, find another job in Washington or move elsewhere.
He stressed that the decision is made individually for each colleague, so whether the Taliban took control of the embassy, or was given to them, it is up to each individual whether he wants to work for the Taliban government or not.
He also suggested that the fate of the embassy could be reversed if the United States eventually recognizes the Taliban government, which currently has no women and is in largely composed of Pashtun ethnicity.
Isolation from the financial system
Since the Taliban took power, Afghanistan has been cut off from the international financial system and most foreign aid has stopped flowing, crippling the movement’s ability to pay government and military salaries.
Interestingly, the United States suspended the operations of the Afghan embassy in Washington in 1997, due to a dispute between diplomats over who is the legitimate leader of the country, the Republic of Afghanistan or the Taliban who overthrew it.
The State Department determined that there was no effective government at the time in Afghanistan and closed the doors of the embassy.
It then reopened in January 2002, a month after the United States reopened its embassy in Kabul.
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