Former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani allegedly fled the country before the Taliban takeover with a cool $169 million in his cash-stuffed helicopter and four other vehicles, and has been given asylum in Dubai on what that country is calling “humanitarian grounds.”
Ghani gave up his position and fled Afghanistan just as the Taliban reached the capital on Sunday, retaking the country that it had ruled for several years before the American-led invasion after the September 11th attacks.
He is only one of a long line of Afghan presidents that attempted to rule the faction-riddled country in the twenty years that US and coalition forces had maintained a shaky peace in the embattled country.
Russians Claim Afghanistan President Fled With Helicopter, Four Other Vehicles Full of Cash
In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, Russian officials claim that the Afghan politician took a total of four cars with him in his midnight dash across the border — but had to leave some cash behind because there was simply not enough room to cram it into his cars and the helicopter.
After saying he did not want bloodshed in his country, Ghani fled the capital and the country that he had presided over since September of 2014.
Ghani stated in a Facebook post that he had left the country to avoid violence with the Taliban that would endanger millions of residents of Kabul, which has 6 million people.
“Dear countrymen!” his post says. “Today, I came across a hard choice; I should stand to face the armed Taliban who wanted to enter the palace or leave the dear country that I dedicated my life to protecting and protecting the past twenty years.
“If there were still countless countrymen martyred and they would face the destruction and destruction of Kabul city, the result would have been a big human disaster in this six million city.
“I Thought It Was Best to Get Out”
“The Taliban have made it to remove me, they are here to attack all Kabul and the people of Kabul. In order to avoid bloodshed, I thought it was best to get out.
“The Taliban have won with the judgement of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honour, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,’ Ghani concluded in his post.
Some on social media accused Ghani, who at that time had not disclosed his location, as a coward for leaving them in the chaos and fear of what the Taliban might do after they gained power once again.
In the end, the Taliban somehow captured all the cities in Afghanistan without major battles in just ten days. They are now in charge of the capital except for the Hamid Karzai International Airport, which has both a commercial side and a military section. American forces are still in control of both halves of the airport but Taliban militants have encircled it outside of its walls.
Ghani first reportedly fled to Tajikistan, and may have planned to ask to stay in exile there, but he was forced to go to the sultanate of Oman after officials at Tajikistan’s Dushanbe airport refused him permission to land there.
Russian Officials Say “Some Money Left Lying on the Tarmac”
Somehow, Ghani eventually landed in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where he has already been granted asylum on what UAE officials call “humanitarian” grounds.
Russian officials, who are the only source of the report that Ghani had left the country with hundreds of millions in cash, are now stating that their country will retain its diplomatic presence in Kabul. It is not known if the Russians may desire to discredit the former Afghan president while they attempt to establish a relationship with the new rulers of the country.
They added that Russia does hope to develop ties with the Taliban, although they say that their country is not recognizing the Taliban as the country’s rulers at the present time.
Nikita Ishchenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, was quoted as saying by RIA on Monday: “As for the collapse of the (outgoing) regime, it is most eloquently characterized by the way Ghani fled Afghanistan.
“Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac.”
Ischenko later confirmed his earlier comments to Reuters, citing “witnesses” as his source of information. Reuters has not been able to independently confirm the veracity of his story.
Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, had stated earlier that it was unclear just how much money fleeing Afghan government officials would leave behind when they bugged out of the country.
Kabulov told interviewers from Moscow’s Ekho Moskvy radio station “I hope the government that has fled did not take all the money from the state budget. It will be the bedrock of the budget if something is left.”