When the Taliban overran Afghanistan in August 2021, the US froze $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets. As Afghanistan’s economic decline has created a humanitarian crisis, the US is looking to return part of the money, according to The Washington Post.
The Taliban is on the US Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, meaning the ruling group cannot touch any cash held in the US. Now, with 90% of the country facing food insecurity, according to Human Rights Watch, the Treasury is creating a fund run by Swiss government officials and Afghan economists to pay for critical imports while shielding the money from the Taliban.
Critics have long called on the Biden administration to return the central bank funds to ease the worsening Afghan economic crisis. The US response has been that the Taliban cannot be trusted to deploy billions of dollars. With the new fund, the US is hoping to have its cake and eat it, too.