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Out of Texas, a cowboy solution to an Afghan crisis

17 1 0
02.12.2021

The idea began with urgent phone calls between United Nations agencies and an anonymous business executive in Texas. It’s resulted in a steady stream of much-needed currency into Afghanistan.

Acting as an intermediary for one of Afghanistan’s richest men, the Texas-based businessman has helped arrange for warehouses of afghanis, the local currency, to be swapped with U.S dollars. held in the accounts of international humanitarian groups. The two sides have mirror needs. Afghan businesses are stockpiling immense amounts of paper currency because they don’t trust the banks, which are currently frozen; meanwhile, humanitarian agencies desperately need money to pay their staff and give cash handouts to a starving population. U.S. dollars are needed to import essential items in the face of the almost total economic collapse since the Taliban took power on Aug. 15.

“It is a cowboy way of running liquidity in the country but it is what we have got. I have never seen anything like this,” says Graeme Smith, a senior consultant with International Crisis Group, the quarter-century old organization focused on preventing conflict. Smith, who has worked in Afghanistan since 2005, is writing a report for the group on solutions to the economic crisis in Afghanistan and is in contact with the Texas executive, who has sought to remain anonymous while talks are under way.

Afghanistan needs dollars. After 20 years of U.S. military occupation and billions invested in state building, the country’s economy is heavily dependent on the greenback. U.S. troops may have left months ago,........

© The Japan Times


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