By Alexander Miller, for Eurasia Business News – August 18, 2021
In an attempt to restrict the funding of the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, the United States has blocked access to the Taliban movement to the Afghan government’s banking accounts managed by the US Federal Reserve System and other American banks, and is working to close their access to the reserves of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth nearly $ 500 million.
“Any central bank assets that the Afghan government has in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban,” said a spokesman of US Presidential administration, reported the Afghan media ToloNews.
In addition, the US Treasury, after the Taliban seized a number of provincial centers in Afghanistan last week, made an emergency decision to stop the supply of cash dollars to the country in order to prevent money from falling into the hands of the Taliban. The next batch of currency has already been prepared for shipment, the agency said.
These measures are “the remnants of diplomatic leverage” with which Washington hopes to prevent a worsening of the political and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul on August 15.
Afghanistan’s central bank governor, Ajmal Ahmadi, who fled the country on Sunday, told reporters that the Afghan central bank’s reserves are about $ 9 billion, but almost all of them are located outside the country. Indeed, central banks, especially in developing or war-torn countries, often hold their financial assets overseas in institutions such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Bank of England or the Banque de France.
“With the adoption of measures by the United States to block access to these reserves, the Taliban have access to about 0.1% of their volume,” said Ahmadi.
In addition, the Afghan central bank’s vaults hold a hoard of 2,000-year-old gold jewellery, ornaments and coins known as the Bactrian Treasure. The collection is composed of 21,145 pieces of gold. This treasure may be at risk.
On Sunday August 15, the Taliban took Kabul, and the whole of Afghanistan fell under the control of their armed movement. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and many other Afghan government officials fled the country. The United States and its allies are urgently removing their diplomats and Afghans from Afghanistan, who are threatened by the Taliban.
The Taliban said in a statement on August 16 that the treasury, public facilities and government offices were the property of the nation and “should be strictly guarded.”
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