The International Monetary Fund suspended Afghanistan’s access to IMF resources, including around $440 million in new monetary reserves, due to a lack of clarity over the country’s government after the Taliban seized control of Kabul.
The IMF’s announcement came amid pressure from the United States Treasury, which holds a controlling share in the Fund, to ensure that Afghanistan’s share of a Special Drawing Rights reserves allocation scheduled not fall into Taliban hands.
“There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access SDRs or other IMF resources,” an IMF spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“As is always the case, the IMF is guided by the views of the international community,” the spokesperson added.
The Fund has traditionally relied on its membership to decide whether to engage with governments that take power in coups or disputed elections.
In 2019, the IMF suspended Venezuela’s SDR access after more than 50 member countries representing a majority of the Fund’s shareholding refused to recognize President Nicolas Maduro’s government following his disputed re-election. The IMF also suspended dealings with Myanmar after the military seized power in a February coup.
Even if Afghanistan were to regain access to the SDRs, it would be unlikely the Taliban could spend those resources because that would require another country to be willing to exchange the SDRs for underlying currencies, a transaction that would likely be blocked by long-standing United States financial sanctions against the Taliban.
Afghan and US officials have said most of the Afghan central bank’s nearly $10 billion in assets are held outside Afghanistan, likely putting them beyond the insurgents’ reach.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday it was too soon to determine whether the United States would recognize the Taliban as the legitimate governing power in Afghanistan, citing a “chaotic situation in Kabul”.