Afghanistan’s former President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul with $169 million in cash

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani fled to Dubai with $169m worth of cash as the Taliban completed their lightning conquest of the country, it has emerged.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan, Mohammad Zahir Agbar, has claimed that President Ashraf Ghani had “taken $169 million with him” when he fled Afghanistan on 16 August. He said that Ghani should be arrested and the wealth of the Afghan nation be restored, Ozodi reported.

Speaking at a news conference in Dushanbe on August 16, Agbar called Ghani’s escape a “betrayal of the state and the nation” and claimed that he had “taken $169 million with him”.

Agbar announced that Amrullah Saleh, Ashraf Ghani’s first deputy, was legally the President of Afghanistan now.

​​”The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” said the gulf nation’s government. 

A Russian news agency had previously reported the president fled the country “with four cars and a helicopter full of cash,” says Reuters, but it appears the actual monetary amount was, at the time, not yet known.

On August 17, the Afghan embassy in Tajikistan asked Interpol police to detain Ghani and two other colleagues “on charges of stealing public wealth,” Afghanistan’s TOLO News reports.

“Ashraf Ghani handed Afghanistan over to the Taliban. We had more than 350,000 equipped troops, experienced military personnel, and they did not fight the Taliban. And we saw this in part in the northern regions of Afghanistan that border Tajikistan. There are more than 20 districts there. And they went over to the Taliban without mounting any resistance,” Agbar said in an interview.

Ghani claimed he left the country to prevent “a flood of bloodshed,” CNBC reports. He later defended his decision in a social media post, writing, “If I had stayed, countless of my countrymen would be martyred and Kabul would face destruction,” per The New York Times.

“I think Ghani had a prior agreement with the Taliban. He already had a plan for betrayal in his head. He abandoned his supporters and betrayed the people of Afghanistan,” he added.

“I don’t think that any government is going to put up with militants from their country being in Afghanistan and operating under the Taliban’s protection. Afghanistan should not be a country that poses a threat to the neighbouring countries,” he said.

“What is more, if the Taliban offer haven to terrorist groups from neighbouring countries, what kind of border security can we talk about? There are many foreign terrorists among the Taliban at this time,” Agbar claimed.

Amrullah Saleh himself had announced that in accordance with the Constitution, in the absence of the President, his escape or death, he would be the acting or sponsor of the presidency of Afghanistan.

Ghani had left Afghanistan on August 15 before the Taliban entered Kabul.

The Taliban, which controls much of Afghanistan and plans to form a government, has not yet responded to claims by Amrullah Saleh and his supporters.

Media outlets, citing diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Kabul, reported that Ashraf Ghani had taken hundreds of millions of dollars with him. Ghani and his family have not yet commented on the matter.

With the collapse of the Afghan government, attention is turning to ensure the safety of civilians and evacuees and an orderly transfer of power.

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