Taliban struggles to access Afghan reserves as US blocks access to almost $10 billion

The Taliban, the Sunni Islamist fundamentalist group that seized power militarily  in Afghanistan last week, is struggling to access most of the Afghan central bank’s roughly $10 billion in assets, kept in US banks

Aug 18, 2021
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Taliban struggles to access Afghan

The Taliban, the Sunni Islamist fundamentalist group that seized power militarily  in Afghanistan last week, is struggling to access most of the Afghan central bank’s roughly $10 billion in assets, kept in US banks. Experts though have warned that absence of funds could cause a humanitarian disaster in the country. 

According to a report in The Washington Post, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and personnel at the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control had decided to freeze the accounts. "Any central bank assets the Afghan government have in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban," an official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), Afghanistan’s central bank, is thought to hold foreign currency, gold, and other treasures in its vaults, according to Ajmal Ahmady, who was the governor of DAB until last week before he fled the country. 

The Taliban are reportedly asking officials of the DAB about the places where the national reserves are kept. Ahmady, in a Twitter thread on Wednesday, said, "Given that the Taliban are still on international sanction lists, it is expected (confirmed?) that such assets will be frozen and not accessible to Taliban." 

According to him, the group could hardly access 0.1-0.2% of Afghanistan’s total international reserves. He said the DAB reserves by the last week were around $9 billion, including $7.0 in federal reserves, $1.3 billion in international accounts.

Since early last week, there was a huge dollar outflow as many people lined up to leave the country, withdrawing their savings, including from their dollar bank accounts. The country used to receive the dollar shipment physically from the US. However, the last shipment, according to Ahmady, which was expected on Saturday, a day before the government collapse, never arrived. 

The supply to local banks in the country was too restricted last week amid the crisis, Ahmady said. 

Experts pointed out that if the funds are not released it will harm the local economy, causing great pain to common Afghans. The prices of food items are already rising. 

(SAM)  

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