Afghanistan: The Taliban prohibits foreign currencies
Afghanistan–“The Islamic Emirate orders all citizens, shopkeepers, merchants, businessmen, and the general public to conduct all transactions in Afghans and to refrain from using foreign currency strictly,” said the Taliban in a statement posted online by the group’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid. Anyone who violates this order will face legal consequences, the report continues. An Afghani, the local currency, is now worth $ 0.0075.
According to Reuters, the Taliban’s decision will undoubtedly cause further disruption to an economy already pushed to the brink of collapse by the abrupt withdrawal of international support. Furthermore, it is essential to remember that the use of the US dollar is widespread in the markets of Afghanistan. Moreover, the currency of neighboring countries is also used for trade in the border areas with Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan. The decision to ban the use of foreign currencies came on the same day that at least 25 people were killed and more than 50 were injured in an assault on the capital’s most significant military hospital, Kabul.
At the same time, for months now, the Taliban government has been lobbying for access to the billions of dollars of Central Bank reserves, blocked following the coup. Similarly, everything that was owned abroad by the Afghan state cannot be touched by the Taliban until the executive is recognized as legitimate. Meanwhile, the country is severely hit by drought. It faces a liquidity crisis and the continuing shortage of necessities that leads part of the population to have nothing to eat.
In this context, G20 leaders pledged to provide humanitarian assistance directly to Afghan citizens, following the special summit on October 12. The European Commission has announced the disbursement of one billion euros in aid, specifying that this will not go through the Taliban government. Some of the European Union funds have been allocated to guarantee support also to neighboring states.
“We must do everything possible to avoid a serious humanitarian and socio-economic collapse in Afghanistan. We have to do it quickly,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The protection of human rights, specifically those of women and minorities, remains a critical point for European countries, which will not recognize the government if it does not commit itself to these issues.
Instead, in the first high-level visit between the two sides, on October 25, China assured that it would respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. Faced with the country’s difficulties, Beijing has urged the United States and the West to lift the sanctions imposed and called on all parties to engage with the Taliban in Afghanistan rationally and pragmatically. After more cautious first steps, on October 25, the Russian special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, announced that almost all the countries that had taken part in the Moscow talks on Afghanistan were ready to recognize the new executive in Taliban guide.
The United States, meanwhile, has insisted that the government will be evaluated based on its actions. In the first talks between senior US and Taliban officials in Qatar on October 9 and 10, the parties discussed providing “solid humanitarian assistance” for the direct benefit of the Afghan people. From Kabul, the Taliban Foreign Ministry reported that the two-day meeting with US representatives had gone well.
The Taliban had “welcomed the US offer to provide humanitarian assistance,” stressing those local authorities facilitate this process. However, the government specified that such support “must not be linked to political issues.” Representatives of the Taliban also stressed the need to restore diplomatic relations and fully implement the agreement signed between the two parties, again in Doha, Qatar, on February 29, 2020.