Since the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan, the US has frozen billions in Afghan reserves and has pressured the International Monetary Fund to suspend Afghanistan’s access to IMF funds. A board member of Afghanistan’s central bank is urging the US and IMF to give the Taliban-led government some access to these funds to avoid an economic disaster.
“If the international community wants to prevent an economic collapse, one way would be to allow Afghanistan to gain limited and monitored access to its reserves,” Shah Mehrabi, a board member of Da Afghanistan Bank, told Reuters. “Having no access will choke off the Afghan economy, and directly hurt the Afghan people, with families pushed further into poverty.”
Afghanistan’s central bank has about $10 billion in assets, which are mostly held outside of the country. About $7 billion is held by the US Federal Reserve, and the US has the power to block access to other offshore funds by the threat of sanctions.
Mehrabi said the US should allow the Taliban to have limited access to the funds. “The Biden administration should negotiate with the Taliban over the money in the same way they negotiated over the evacuation,” he said.
The Biden administration is using its financial power as leverage over the Taliban. The US claims that it cares about the people of Afghanistan, but history shows US sanctions and other means of economic warfare to little to change governments and always hurt the civilian population of the target country.
For their part, the Taliban wants Washington to reopen its embassy in Kabul and seeks a trade relationship with the US. “America should have only a diplomatic presence in Kabul. We have communication channels with them and we expect them to reopen their embassy in Kabul and we also want to have trade relations with them,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday.