US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that Afghanistan’s foreign reserves would continue to be frozen beyond February 11. This decision stems from Biden’s initial executive order issued on February 11, 2022, addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and its associated threats.
The original executive order, issued by Biden on February 11, 2022, highlighted the urgent needs of the Afghan people, including food security, livelihood support, and essential health services. The order emphasized the extraordinary threat posed to US national security and foreign policy by the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.
In a statement posted to the White House website, President Biden underscored the importance of preserving certain assets held by the Afghanistan Central Bank (DAB) in the United States. These assets, he noted, are vital for addressing the national emergency and ensuring the welfare of the Afghan people.
President Biden acknowledged that various parties, including victims of terrorism, have laid legal claims to certain assets of DAB. Consequently, these assets remain blocked in accordance with his executive order, reflecting the complex legal and humanitarian considerations at play.
Despite repeated appeals from Afghanistan’s foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, for the release of frozen assets, the US has maintained its stance. Muttaqi reiterated this request at the “Afghanistan Regional Cooperation Initiative” meeting in Kabul, emphasizing the importance of returning the assets to DAB.
Following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, the US froze over $9.5 billion of Afghanistan’s assets, with approximately $7 billion held in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Subsequently, a portion of these funds, $3.5 billion, was transferred to a special fund in Switzerland, while the remainder remains under US control.
The freeze on Afghanistan’s foreign reserves underscores the complexities of managing humanitarian crises within the framework of international law and diplomacy. As Afghanistan grapples with multifaceted challenges, including political instability and economic turmoil, the fate of its frozen assets remains a contentious issue on the global stage.