US 'usurped' Afghanistan's $7 billion assets, claims Taliban

The US announces to release $3.5 billion of the frozen money to the new "Afghan Fund" as humanitarian aid


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Afghan people prepare to cross over to Pakistan through the Afghanistan-Pakistan joint border crossing in Torkham of Nangarhar province. — AFP
Afghan people prepare to cross over to Pakistan through the Afghanistan-Pakistan joint border crossing in Torkham of Nangarhar province. — AFP

Published: Fri 16 Sep 2022, 9:31 PM

Taliban have accused the US of having usurped the Afghan assets after they announced to release $3.5 billion of frozen money of Afghanistan as humanitarian aid for the poverty-stricken country.

"The assets of the people of Afghanistan have been usurped by the United States," the Dawn quoted Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying.

"We consider it an invasion on the property of Afghans. The United States is not the owner of these assets," Mujahid said, while demanding that funds should be released "without any conditions".

The US on Wednesday announced to release $3.5 billion of the total $7 billion frozen money of Afghanistan to the new "Afghan Fund" for humanitarian aid.

The US Treasury Department said it would transfer $3.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets into a new Swiss-based trust fund that will be shielded from the Islamic Emirate and used to help stabilise Afghanistan's collapsed economy.

The new Afghan Fund, based in Geneva, will not provide humanitarian assistance, but will be put in charge of core central bank functions such as paying Afghanistan's international arrears and for its electricity imports — and potentially for necessities such as printing currency.

According to CNN, two senior US officials said: "The US is moving $3.5 billion to the new Afghan Fund, but will not release the money imminently to an institution in Afghanistan because there is no trusted institution to guarantee the funds will benefit the Afghan people.

"Instead, it will be administered by an outside body, independent of the Taliban and the country's central bank," the official said.

"The Fund may use assets to provide Afghan banking sector liquidity, keep Afghanistan current on its debt service obligations, support exchange rate stability, transfer funds, as appropriate to public Afghan financial institutions, or any other use for the benefit of the Afghan people that are approved by the Fund's Board of Trustees," said a US State Department official.

The officials said that the transfer of the funds would depend upon two key factors — the responsible management of the bank and assurances that the funds will not be diverted to terrorists or criminals, CNN reported.

"We do not have that confidence today," the official said, adding that, "at minimum, the Afghan central bank will need to demonstrate its independence from political influence and interference”.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing for the $7 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan's central bank to fund humanitarian relief in Afghanistan and compensate victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

More than half of the country's poverty-stricken population, or an estimated 24 million Afghans, face an acute food shortage and some one million children under five years of age could die from hunger by the end of this year, according to UN estimates following the US withdrawal from the country.

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