One day after rejecting a military report detailing the bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden administration announced their plans for the country’s frozen assets. According to the White House, the government will redirect $7 billion in central banking funds from Afghanistan to humanitarian relief and victims of 9/11.
The original Army report concluded that the White House acted too late in responding to the Taliban’s final offensive. The report also criticized Biden for resisting efforts to prepare an evacuation of US Embassy staffers and Afghan allies in the weeks before Kabul fell.
The President recently granted an exclusive interview with NBC, which will air as part of the weekend’s Super Bowl coverage. NBC released a portion of the taped interview Thursday, though. In it, the network’s news anchor Lester Holt pressed Biden to comment on the report.
“You were told that the US — administration officials — were prepared? They knew it was time to get out?” Holt asked.
“What I was told — no one told me that — look, there was no good time to get out,” Biden said. “But if we had not gotten out, they acknowledged that we would have had to put a hell of a lot more troops back in.”
“Just want to clarify, are you rejecting the conclusions or the accounts that are in this Army report?” Holt later asked.
“Yes I am,” Biden responded.
“So they’re not true?” Holt followed up.
“I’m rejecting them,” the president said.
How will the Biden White House distribute the Afghan assets?
The Afghan funds, which the U.S. froze when the Taliban reassumed power in the state, will move to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. They had been used in the Middle East for assisting local economies.
Under the President’s order, $3.5 billion must be used for Afghan aid. The remaining $3.5 billion will then be used to fund ongoing legal proceedings for US victims of terrorism.
“This is one step forward in the United States’ effort to authorize the transfer of a significant portion of the funds to meet the needs of the Afghan people,” the White House said in a statement. It also added that the order “is designed to provide a path for the funds to reach the people of Afghanistan.” The administration said it wants to “keeping [funds] out of the hands of the Taliban and malicious actors.”
Before the regime change, foreign aid from the West comprised about 80 percent of the country’s entire economy. Now, because of the fundamentalism in place, the country faces almost-certain humanitarian disaster if aid is not given.
The United Nations recently issued an appeal for nearly $5 billion, its largest-ever appeal for one country. It predicts that nearly 90 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people currently live in poverty. The poverty level is classified as $1.90 a day. The UN also said that 1 million children risked starvation.