Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled with $169million in his cash-stuffed helicopter and has been given asylum in Dubai on ‘humanitarian grounds’, it has emerged.
Ghani fled the country on Sunday night as the Taliban encircled the capital – saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed – capping a military victory that saw them capture all cities in just 10 days.
He made a snap decision to leave Afghanistan on Sunday and did so without assistance from the US, a presidential palace bodyguard told Fox News.
The decision, made in a matter of minutes, came after last ditch negotiations with Taliban leaders in Qatar to avoid bloodshed as the group surrounded Kabul on Sunday. Joe Biden had spent the weeks before backing Ghani’s government, despite warnings from his intelligence community questioning whether he and his army would fight in the absence of US support.
The source claimed Ghani’s decision to leave Afghanistan likely prevented fighting in the streets of the capital. The former president took with him four cars and a helicopter loaded with bags of cash – but was forced to leave some of the money behind as it would not all fit on the flight. Earlier reports said Ghani had fled to Uzbekistan, citing Russian Embassy sources.
It was also claimed to former president had flown to Tajikistan, but diverted to Oman when officials in Dushanbe refused him permission to land. But the United Arab Emirates said today that it was hosting Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in Dubai ‘on humanitarian grounds’.
Meanwhile Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh has stayed in the country and retreated to his hometown in the Panjshir Valley – the only region the Taliban have not conquered – and is massing troops to resist the militants.
The Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan, which reportedly refused Ghani refuge, has removed the former president’s picture and replaced it with Saleh.