Bi-weekly News and Opinion Roundup - August 19, 2021
Afghanistan
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling on the Biden administration to ensure that at-risk Afghans are given a chance to seek safety in the U.S. You can quickly email the Biden administration with IRC’s form here.

Vahe Mirikian and Shannon Paige of Peace Direct highlight the critical role that Afghan civil society has played in peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts, and call on the U.S. and the international community to “courageously and rapidly fund local efforts to protect Afghan civil society.” Read their take in the Hill. (August 19).

Bilal Askaryar with the Women’s Refugee Commission calls on the Biden administration to enact “a bold plan that grants humanitarian parole to all Afghans in danger—especially the women and girls that the United States spent the last 20 years saying it cared about.” Read his take in Slate. (August 18).

Erol Yaybok of the Center for Strategic and International Studies unpacks the numbers behind the emerging refugee crisis in Afghanistan, and argues that in addition to immediate humanitarian concerns, the U.S. and others should welcome Afghan refugees as part of a longer term strategy to support stability in the region. Read his take in Defense One. (August 18).

In the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, international NGOs are working to facilitate the evacuation of at-risk Afghans, lobbying the U.S. State Department, coordinating private flights, and responding to appeals from Afghans. Missy Ryan and Kareem Fahim report for the Washington Post. (August 15).
Counterterrorism
Unpacking their recent report for Safer World on the Global Counterterrorism Forum ahead of the GCTF’s internal review, Deliba Goxho and Selina Daugalies argue that the forum only seeks input from “the ‘right’ type of civil society organizations, those that will not ruffle State feathers.” Read their analysis in Just Security, and the full Safer World report on GCTF practices here. (August 10).
Financial Access
Guidance from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been repeatedly abused by governments to silence critics and undermine civil society organizations. Angus Berwick report for Reuters. (August 5).
Sanctions
In a letter to the Biden administration, 19 members of Congress called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “roll back harmful sanctions on Venezuela, end politicization of U.S. assistance, support internationally mediated negotiations, engage in direct dialogue with the Maduro government while maintaining strong pressure against human rights abuses, and involve moderate opposition actors in discussions — not just hardline opposition elements.” Read Rep. Chuy García’s press release here, and the full text of the letter here. (August 13).

“Sanctions hold countries back from development, they hold back people as well, and in a globalizing world, that hurts everyone,” according to United Nations experts, who called on the states to withdraw or at least minimize the use of unilateral sanctions. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports. (August 11).
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