L. Nia Lewis
activist, writer, Adminstrator (CPAS)
International Thief Thief
Friend friend to Permanent Secretary
Friend friend to Minister
Friend friend to Head of State
Then start start to steal money -- Fela Kuti
On August 15, 2021, the U.S. was withdrawing from Afghanistan, the feeble, corrupt, client state it had propped up with a military occupation for two decades. The victors were the Taliban, a fiercely nationalist, Islamist militia born in Afghanistan's countryside in 1994. Sporting sunglasses and pakol hats, brandishing AR-15s and AK-47s, riding captured Humvees and MRAPs, the Taliban retook Kabul.
August 15 initiated the Taliban's second chance at governance. Their first regime (1996 - 2001) had alienated the international community with an alleged genocide of 21,000 persons of the Hazara ethnic minority, imprisonment of women and girls in their homes, and demolition of the two thousand-year-old Buddhas of Bamiyan. The second Taliban administration, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, featured much of the same "Supreme Council" leadership, but the all-male assembly seemed to have moderated their views over time. They voiced tolerance of religious and ethnic minorities and of a slight allowance of women's participation in public life, gestures required to win international support needed to rebuild and reunify a shattered nation.
One crucial resource Afghanistan planned to draw from was its foreign currency reserves. Da Afghanistan Bank held over $7 billion dollars at the U.S. Central Bank. On August 15, 2022, following an executive order by President Biden, the U.S. Treasury froze Afghanistan's assets. The White House announced that it would "seek to facilitate access to $3.5 billion of those assets for the benefit of the Afghan people and for Afghanistan’s future pending a judicial decision.” The Biden administration declared it would confiscate the other half of the money and turn it over to some families of September 11 victims engaged in a lawsuit against the Taliban for 9/11. Victims' families also protested as "offensive" the LIV golf tournament, an event that was funded by Saudi Arabia and originally scheduled to happen at New York City's Trump Links in October 2022. Apparently, these families did know which nation was actually involved in 9/11. Regardless of which state bore responsibility, the U.S. intended to withhold Afghanistan's money and watch the Afghan people starve and freeze in the winter of 2022 and 2023.
The U.S. looting of Afghanistan's money might seem like a regrettable one-off, but it also happened to Venezuela. In April 2019, claiming "further action to halt the former Maduro regime's theft of assets and destruction of the (Venezuelan) economy," the U.S. Treasury Department levied sanctions seizing $342 million belonging to the Central Bank of Venezuela in an account with Citibank. In a one-year commemoration of the appropriation, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted, "The Central Bank of Venezuela denounces the vulgar plunder that Donald Trump, in complicity with some illegitimate officials, ordered of financial assets of the nation, which are blocked in Citibank. #SanctionsAreACrime."
The U.S government was acting in concert with a past master of asset forfeiture: the British government. In November 2018, the Bank of England declined to return Venezuela's thirty-one tons of gold reserves, valued at over $1.8 billion. The British explanation for the seizure was "anti-money laundering measures." Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed, expatriate-Venezuelan "parallel government" was demanding those frozen assets. Juan Guaidó, the "parallel government's" presidential pretender and an individual who has never served in and who has never been elected to the Venezuelan presidency, presented legal claims on the $1.8 billion. And, in a stunning move, the British judiciary seemed prepared to give it to him.
On July 29, 2022, the High Court of England and Wales sided with Juan Guaidó and rejected the latest attempt by the Venezuelan Central Bank to reclaim its gold. Judge Sara Cockerill deemed "inadmissible" the rulings by Venezuela's highest court that charged that a parallel Venezuelan Central Bank board created by the parallel government was illegitimate. The U.K.'s High Court was also unmoved by Venezuela's plan to sell the gold and to deliver proceeds to the United Nations Development Programme for purchase of food, drugs, and medical supplies needed to fight COVID-19. Caracas then sued in the British court for the right to sell its gold reserves and was again rebuffed.
On December 31, 2022, Associated Press reported that politicians from three of Venezuela’s four leading opposition parties voted to strip Juan Guaidó of his imaginary presidency.
Anyone can log on to the Bank of England database and search from January 2019 to January 2023 under “Venezuela.” The result will be sixteen quarters of data on Venezuelan holdings in “sterling and all foreign currency deposits” ranging from a high of $454 million USD in quarter ending December 2020 to lows of $36 million USD in quarters ending September 2021 and December 2022.
A search in the Bank of England database for “Venezuela, gold, reserves” produces the response: “No results found.”
Russia is a more immense and lucrative quarry than Afghanistan or Venezuela. In February 2014, a U.S.-backed coup engineered regime change in Ukraine and empowered Ukraine's far right, which launched an eight-year long internal war that allegedly killed 14,000 Russian-speaking Ukrainians. During those eight years, Russian public sentiment grew more vehement in demanding that President Vladimir Putin take action to protect the ethnic Russian majority in the Donbass region of east Ukraine. Putin, a lawyer by training, led his government in seeking legalistic methods to rein in Ukraine and stop the bloodshed, including appeals to the U.N. Security Council and negotiation of the 2014 and 2015 Minsk Accords. Ukraine ignored the Minsk Accords and continued its war on ethnic Russians in the Donbass. On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated its Special Military Operation against Ukraine.
The West's playbook for Russia combines destabilization, sanctions, war, accompanied by theft, but stealing from Russia will prove challenging. Their rich deposits of oil, coal, and strategic minerals, their fertilizer industry, their manufacturing and technology sectors, and their agricultural system are guarded by a nuclear arsenal. So, the West has focused on Russia's assets abroad.
According to an NBC News report dated March 17, 2022, Russia holds the equivalent of $452 billion dollars in foreign banks and institutions. Allegedly, the equivalent of $80 billion of that total is safeguarded by China, and Russia has access to it. The European Union is said to have frozen Russian money valued at $281 billion, a figure that approximates Russia’s own estimate of $300 billion of its assets as being frozen by the E.U. The remaining $91 billion equivalent was claimed to be partially frozen or "unreported."
The E.U. had been planning to hand over Russia’s approximately $300 billion to the Ukrainian regime for Ukraine’s “reconstruction,” but by the end of 2022, “an estimated two-thirds or more of the (frozen) Russian assets” were gone, according to the Indian news outlet republicworld.com citation of an admission from the Atlantic Council, a neoconservative, U.S. think tank.
Out of the nearly $300 billion in confiscated Russian assets, the E.U. claimed it could only find $36.4 billion.
So, what is going on here? Is this an elaborate scam, an E.U. sleight-of-hand? Or, has Russia found a way to retrieve its own money? The truth may not be known for months, years, or perhaps, ever.
Western media coverage of Russia’s “Special Military Operation” has eclipsed reporting on Afghanistan. In September 2022, the U.S. Treasury ordered $3.5 billion in reserves from the Da Afghanistan Bank transferred to a trust in Switzerland “to benefit the Afghan people.” January 2023 in Afghanistan, more than 157 people and 70,000 livestock froze to death when temperatures plunged to minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Did the Afghan people ever get that $3.5 billion? Could that money have eased some of their suffering and saved some of their lives?
And it must be remembered, that $3.5 billion was only half of Afghanistan’s reserves. The other $3.5 billion is still being pursued legally by another group representing 9/11 families.
The rest of the world is watching. There will be growing costs for the West looting foreign reserves and stealing external assets, and ironically, the country that was once the economic powerhouse of the E.U. might have demonstrated that cost. In 2017, Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel completed repatriation of all of its $31 billion in gold from Paris and New York.
Posted: Thu, Mar 16