OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Biden administration may be inadvertently providing the Taliban with a massive cash inflow of up to $10 billion dollars due to its inability to act against the Islamist militant group in Afghanistan and prevent them from seizing US assets and cash.
Following the fall of the Afghanistan national government and President Joe Biden’s disastrous pullout, few plans have been put in place to secure billions of dollars in assets and between $10 and $20 million in cash in Afghanistan. If the assets and liquid currency should fall into the hands of the Taliban, it would add even more spoils to their coffers, already flush with Taliban’s seizing of US military hardware, including billions of dollars in guns, ammunition, helicopters, heavy artillery, drones, and armored vehicles.
As the administration scrambles to evacuate trapped US citizens and their allies from Afghanistan, the Biden administration may be overlooking the Taliban’s plans to seize some $10 billion in assets currently held in Afghanistan’s central bank, according to congressional foreign policy leaders.
According to a new report by the Washington Free Beacon, there sits somewhere between $18 and $20 million in cash in the Afghan bank’s central vaults, which will likely be seized by the Taliban unless the United States attempts to intercept the funds and fly them out of the country or otherwise destroy the cash. Sources told the Free Beacon that any move on the money is unlikely as the Biden administration continues to struggle with the evacuation.
The Free Beacon reported:
The Treasury Department would not answer questions about any plan it has to secure cash still located inside the country. A Biden administration official, speaking only on background about the matter, told the Washington Free Beacon that all Afghan assets held as investments in the United States—which amount to around $7 billion—have been frozen and “will not be made available to the Taliban.” The Afghan central bank has around $10 billion in total assets, most of which are stored outside the country and out of the Taliban’s reach in the short term. Taliban leaders are pressing bank officials to give them access to these funds, according to Afghan government officials.
Speaking to the publication, Republican members of Congress advising on foreign policy say that the administration has no plans in place to secure the funds given its problems at the Kabul airport, where thousands of Americans and special visa holders who assisted the US effort in Afghanistan await evacuation. Since the fall of Afghanistan, the Biden administration has struggled to organize a proper evacuation effort, especially of those still trapped behind Taliban checkpoints, and has largely depended on the British special forces army units and other NATO special forces groups to perform rescues. The Republicans say that the administration had no contingency plans in place to deal with the Taliban’s swift return to power.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the publication that it’s Congress’ responsibility to ensure the Taliban does not become wealthy as a result of the government takeover.
“While I am glad the administration has indicated it will not allow the Taliban to gain access to Afghan reserves held in the United States, it’s up to Congress to make sure the Taliban does not walk away with a windfall,” Gallagher told the publication. He said that it was necessary for Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “immediately reconvene Congress for an emergency session so we can do so.”
Although the United States froze cash shipments to Afghanistan over the weekend when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, some in the Biden administration have floated suggestions to unfreeze Afghanistan’s cash reserves or even offer the Taliban foreign aid cash if it agrees not to attack the US embassy compound in Kabul.
According to the Washington Post, Biden administrations monitoring the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan said they plan to resume the flow of humanitarian aid into the now Taliban-controlled country.
Speaking to the Free Beacon, Republican Rep. Jim Banks, also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, savaged the Biden administration for lacking any plan to stop the Taliban from seizing American taxpayer dollars.
“The Biden administration has no planned evacuation route for Americans. No plan to secure the perimeter of the Kabul airport. No plan to keep billions of high-tech equipment away from the Taliban. No plan to stop the Taliban from seizing billions of American dollars,” Banks said. “He has endangered thousands of Americans and empowered our enemies. Biden’s incompetence is an embarrassment to the United States.”