Earlier reports detailed that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled Afghanistan with large sums of money, a figure that some speculated amounted to about $169 million. It was initially believed that he had either fled to Tajikistan or Uzbekistan before it was confirmed earlier Wednesday that he fled to the United Arab Emirates.
Exiled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the public on Wednesday and declared that he fully intends to return to Afghanistan in the near future in order to provide “justice” for all Afghan nationals.
“I am in consultation with others until I will return so that I can continue my efforts for justice for Afghans,” Ghani said, reiterating that he chose to leave his countrymen in order to prevent any further bloodshed and avert any “huge disaster” after Taliban forces broke promises to not enter Kabul over the weekend.
It’s unclear how Ghani would be able to retake the presidency with Taliban officials at the helm.
Jake Sullivan, who serves as the national security adviser to the Biden White House, informed reporters during a Tuesday briefing that the former Afghan president “was no longer a factor” in Afghanistan as he had fled the country. Similar statements were reiterated by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Wednesday.
Ghani also took the opportunity to blast earlier reports that he had left the Central Asian country with millions in tow, underscoring that such allegations were entirely false and baseless. “They are lies,” he said in his address.
Reports of Ghani having fled Afghanistan with millions in cash emerged as a spokesperson for the Russian embassy previously told Sputnik that Ghani had departed with four cars that had been filled to the brim with money.
“They tried to put part of the money into a helicopter, but everything did not fit,” the official said, before adding that “some of the money was left on the runway.”
Follow-up reports alleged that the dollar amount Ghani escaped with was upwards of $169 million. However, that figure was never confirmed.
“I hope in these coming days that we will get over this and Afghanistan will experience peace and stability,” he stated.
Ghani went on to state that he would be detailing the events that prompted his decision to leave at a later time, and that he welcomed talks between Taliban officials and former Afghan President Hamid Karzi, who recently announced that he had launched a coalition group to ensure peace for the country.
Ghani’s latest remarks came moments after the UAE’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Ghani and his family were allowed entry into the Middle Eastern nation on “humanitarian grounds.” However, the brief release did not offer specifics on any asylum conditions that may have been raised or his exact location. It’s also unclear how Ghani is funding his UAE stay.
Since the announcement that the US would be withdrawing from the war-torn nation, the Taliban continued to make strides in regaining control of much of the country over a short period of time. Meeting little to no resistance from US-trained Afghan forces, the militant group managed to enter Kabul on Sunday, bringing to a close nearly 20 years’ worth of fighting with American troops.
The Taliban, which had ruled the nation for decades, was forced from government with the 2001 US-led invasion that was prompted by Taliban officials refusal to turn over Osama bin Laden and close al-Qaeda training camps in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.