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Virtual Event | From Frozen Assets to Sanctions: What Economic Leverage Does the U.S. Have in Afghanistan?

Aug 24, 2021
11:00am to 12:00am


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In addition to the urgent security and humanitarian considerations in Afghanistan, the Biden administration must now carefully leverage its economic tools when dealing with the Taliban. The U.S. has already frozen $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets, and the IMF has halted another $460 million in emergency currency reserves. Sanctions and other coercive economic measures are also on the table. Will this be enough to compel the Taliban to follow international standards on human rights? What role will the informal economy and support from non-democratic states have in reducing the American economic leverage over the Taliban? How will these restrictions impact the population and the humanitarian efforts that the U.S. and allies have been supporting?

On Tuesday, August 24, from 11:00am-12:00pm EDT, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS)’s Energy, Economics, and Security Program hosted a timely discussion with experts on economic and sanctions policy, diplomacy, and Afghan political affairs on how the U.S. should leverage its economic arsenal as it navigates a new phase of engagement with the Taliban.

Speakers included:

  • Annie Pforzheimer, Non-Resident Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Afghanistan; Former Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Kabul
  • Alex Zerden, Founder and Principal, Capitol Peak Strategies LLC; Former Treasury Attaché to Afghanistan 2018 - 2019, U.S. Embassy Kabul, Treasury Department
  • Rachel Ziemba, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
  • Emily Kilcrease (moderator), Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security