Washington has reportedly ruled out releasing any of the $7 billion in the country’s financial assets that it froze after the Taliban takeover
US President Joe Biden’s administration has reportedly opted against releasing $7 billion in Afghan Central Bank assets, deciding to keep the funds frozen due to concern that the currently Taliban-ruled country is again harboring international terrorists.
Washington suspended all talks with Taliban after seeing positive progress during negotiations. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that this was also the case, citing US officials. The decision concerns the war-torn country’s US-based assets, which Biden’s administration froze after last year’s Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Refusal to Release the Funds “deals a blow to the hopes of an economic recovery in Afghanistan as millions face starvation” one year into the Taliban’s rule, the WSJ said. A group of prominent academics, economists, and professors representing the US, UK, and five other nations, issued an open letter last week urging Washington to free the assets. “economic and humanitarian catastrophes unfolding in Afghanistan”America and its role in “driving”These are crises.
“We do not see recapitalization of the Afghan Central Bank as a near-term option,” Thomas West, the US State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan, told the WSJ. “We do not have confidence that that institution has the safeguards and monitoring in place to manage assets responsibly.”
The presence of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, whom US forces killed late last month in a drone strike in Kabul, helped seal the fate of the Afghan assets. The fact that the high-level terrorist was apparently comfortable traveling to Afghanistan’s capital heightened Washington’s fears that the Taliban’s return to power has allowed Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to regroup in the country, setting the stage for more overseas attacks.
“Needless to say, the Taliban’s sheltering of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reinforces deep concerns we have regarding diversion of funds to terrorist groups,”West spoke.
The cost of failure: While the US evacuated Afghanistan one year ago with no real consequence, it is still a sign that they are preparing for what lies ahead
Most of the Afghan Central Bank’s nearly $10 billion in assets were frozen overseas after the Taliban seized control of the country a year ago. The US controls the lion’s share of those funds, about $7 billion, and had been negotiating with the Taliban for the release of about $3.5 billion for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. Biden issued an order to allocate $3.5 billion for the victims of September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in February.
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