The US has no plans to release billions of dollars in Afghan assets, the Treasury said


The Washington-Biden administration has no plans to release billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s gold, investment and foreign exchange reserves, which were frozen after the Taliban hijacking. Afghanistan’s economy.

Many of Afghanistan’s central bank’s $ 10 billion assets are stored abroad and are seen as an important tool for the West to pressure the Taliban to respect women’s rights and the rule of law.

The unfreezing of these assets could be months in the future, according to financial experts.

After Tullivan took over in mid-August, officials from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Finance, the White House National Security Council, and other agencies prior to what the United Nations and others consider to be looming humanitarians. , Regularly discusses Afghanistan’s finances. crisis.

Experts say the decision to release the money is likely to involve top US executives in several sectors, but ultimately it’s up to President Joe Biden.

Food and fuel prices are skyrocketing across Afghanistan amid a suspension of foreign aid, a suspension of dollar shipments, and a cash shortage caused by the drought.

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On August 31, 2021, Afghan families gather to receive ingredients distributed by an Islamabad-based Christian organization on the outskirts of Chaman, a Balochistan town in southwestern Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. .. (AP photo)

The US Treasury said this week that it has granted a license to allow the US government and its partners to continue promoting humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. It also gave Western Union and other financial institutions, the world’s largest remittance company, a green light to resume processing personal remittances from foreign migrants to Afghanistan.

The Treasury has not eased sanctions on the Taliban or restricted access to the global financial system, a spokesman told Reuters.

“The US government is in contact with Afghanistan’s humanitarian partners, both in terms of security conditions in the field and their ability to continue humanitarian activities,” a spokesman said.

“As we maintain our commitment to the people of Afghanistan, we have not reduced sanctions pressure on Taliban leaders or significant restrictions on access to the international financial system.”

Shah Melavi, a professor of economics in Maryland and a longtime director of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, a senior Russian official, and a humanitarian group have called on the U.S. Treasury to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets. Said he was at stake.

“The situation is very serious. As the days go by, people’s suffering and outflow will increase,” said Meharabi.

The International Monetary Fund also blocked the Taliban from accessing the approximately $ 440 million new emergency reserve or special drawing rights issued by global lenders last month.

Adnan Mazaray, a former deputy director of the IMF and now a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the United States could not legally release Afghanistan’s assets until an internationally recognized government was formed. Said that it could take months before this happens. Once approved by the government, the IMF could not act until the board voted.

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After the Taliban was hijacked in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 1, 2021, Afghans line up outside the bank to withdraw money. (Stringer / File Photo / Reuters)

He said central bank reserves are usually untouched, except as a last resort. He said that even Iran, which is suffering from severe international sanctions, is not using the IMF emergency reserves.

Former Treasury official Brian Otur, who is now a member of the Atlantic Council, said the release of Afghanistan’s assets would not solve a serious problem in Afghanistan.

“Release of these funds alone cannot stabilize the Afghan economy. What it does is give the Taliban access to billions of dollars,” he said. “I don’t think there is much willingness to do so in the United States, and I don’t think it should.”

By Andrea Shalal and Daphne Psaledakis

Reuters

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