Outlawing al-Qaida

United Nations: Sanctions levied against individuals and groups instead of sovereign nations.

January 23, 2002

NORMALLY, United Nations Security Council mandatory sanctions are imposed on sovereign nations that were found to have transgressed international law in some grievous fashion.

The Security Council has just removed sanctions against Afghanistan for harboring the terrorist al-Qaida organization. This properly gives a jump-start to the Karzai interim regime, freeing frozen funds for it to use.

The new sanctions adopted Wednesday evening name Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida organization and the Taliban organization, not governments or countries.

These sanctions, theoretically binding on all nations, mandate freezing the funds of individuals and groups, preventing their entry or transit and forbidding their supply.

Any country granting sanctuary to bin Laden or the Taliban leader Mullah Omar would be violating these sanctions.

Bin Laden, a very tall Arab, would be hard to disguise in Afghanistan. He may have escaped to some congenial place beyond a government's control.

The Taliban spring from rural Pashtun people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mullah Omar, whose face is little-known, might melt into the background among sympathetic people. Hard currency looted from Afghan banks might sustain the Taliban in dormancy for years, to re-emerge in more propitious times.

U.N. sanctions effectively outlaw both al-Qaida and the Taliban, with direct consequences for Afghanistan, where the Taliban might be tolerated on warlord discretion, and for Pakistan.

Sanctions warn Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Somalia -- countries where either governments or powerful interests aided bin Laden in the past -- against quiet hospitality. These sanctions may be welcome to regimes that want to ostracize terrorists but need an excuse to show their populace.

The world is groping toward solutions to problems that globalization imposes. Sanctions such as these are useful and overdue.

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