Afghanistan’s biggest currency exchange market reopens after Taliban takeover

Sarai Shahzada market sees huge turnout after exchange offices were shuttered for nearly three weeks.

Afghanistan’s biggest currency exchange market reopens after Taliban takeover

Hundreds of people thronged a currency exchange market in the Afghan capital that reopened over the weekend after being shut since the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Aug. 15.

Footage by an Anadolu Agency correspondent showed the crowd at Sarai Shahzada market, the largest money exchange market in cash-strapped Afghanistan.

After the Taliban captured Kabul, exchange offices in the market were shuttered for nearly three weeks.

Exchange office owners told Anadolu Agency there are nearly 400 offices in the market and they have representation in a total of 120 countries.

They said money transfers can be made to many parts of the world within a minute through representative offices across the world.

Emincan Hosti, the former head of Sarai Shahzada Exchange Offices, said the market has a 70-year history.

It is one of the centers that shapes the economy of Kabul and the whole country, Hosti said.

Security issues were largely resolved and economic activity increased after the Taliban captured Kabul, he noted.

The Taliban are experiencing a cash shortage since the country's assets are held abroad and the public is skeptical of the next administration’s economic policies.

After the Taliban captured Kabul, banks were also shuttered for nearly two weeks.

Even before the branches opened, people flocked to banks to withdraw up to 20,000 Afghanis ($231), a weekly limit imposed by the country's central bank.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already blocked Afghanistan's access to IMF resources, including around $440 million in new monetary reserves, due to a lack of clarity on the country's governance structure.

US officials said the Afghan central bank's $10 billion in assets abroad are likely beyond the Taliban's reach. The Taliban would not be able to access any Afghan central bank assets held in the US, Biden administration officials told foreign media recently.