Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, fled the country with four cars and a helicopter filled with cash just prior to the Taliban taking full control over the government, according to Russian media.
“As for the reasons of the collapse of the regime, they are characterized by how Ghani fled the country. Four cars were packed with money, and they tried to cram another bag of cash into the helicopter. Not all the cash managed to squeeze in, and some of the money was left lying on the airfield,” a Russian embassy employee told TASS.
Ghani is said to have flown first to Tajikistan. However, authorities refused to permit him to land. It was then reported that Ghani arrived in the Gulf state of Oman and that he would soon leave for the United States. Both Indian and Russian news agencies have confirmed Ghani’s presence in Oman.
In a speech two weeks ago, Ghani criticized Afghan king Amanullah who ruled the country in the 1920s but fled to British India due to the civil war. Ghani promised that he “will not escape.”
A day before the Taliban came to power, Ghani appeared on TV and vowed to fight back. The former president promised that he will focus on preventing instability, violence, displacement and that he has begun consultations with global leaders. It was later revealed that it was a recorded video, not a live broadcast. Ghani had already left the country.
In a statement, Ghani confirmed that he fled Afghanistan; he said that the Taliban did not leave him with many options.
“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,” Ghani said. He added that he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
Afghan people were visibly disturbed by Ghani’s desertion. Some protestors tore down the former president’s posters near the Kabul airport.
“Shame on a president who left this poor country like this and escaped,” Abdul Hai, a resident from the Talhar province, told TOLO News. Education Minister Rangina Hamidi, who had fully trusted the president, said that he was shocked and in “disbelief” at Ghani’s escape.
In an interview with NBC News, Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that Ghani will not be able to return to Afghanistan as long as the Taliban is in power. The terror outfit “would love to make an example of” Ghani. It was under Ghani’s leadership that the Afghanistan military killed tens of thousands of Taliban fighters.
“He abandoned his people, but … he’d probably be swinging from a lamppost if he stayed… It was a matter of his personal survival at this point… There was no Afghanistan for him to govern. Not even Kabul. … And if there is any resistance in Afghanistan, he wouldn’t be the one to mount it, anyway,” Roggio said.