US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Tuesday announced additional sanctions against the Taliban in response to what the US perceives as repression of women and girls in Afghanistan through violence and restrictive policies.
Citing Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Blinken unveiled new restrictions on visas for current or former Taliban members, members of non-state security groups, and others believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the repression of women and girls.
Blinken’s announcement came on the International Day of the Girl Child. The International Day of the Girl Child was first observed on October 11, 2012, for the purpose of raising awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide. Blinken pointed specifically to policies that restrict access to secondary or higher education, prevent or limit women’s participation in the workplace, and deny freedom of speech and movement.
This news comes at a time when relations between the US and the interim government in Afghanistan are already strained. A meeting in Doha, Qatar, on October 8 marked the first face-to-face interaction between the US government and the Taliban since al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a US drone strike in Kabul on July 31. The October 8 meeting included top security officials from both sides, indicating that counterterrorism was likely on the agenda. US officials have called cooperation with the Taliban on terrorism “a work in progress.”