Taliban appoint new Afghan government, interior minister on US sanctions list

Mullah Hassan Akhund. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The Taliban have tapped into their upper echelons to take leadership positions in the new Afghan government on Tuesday, including an associate of the founder of the militant Islamist group as prime minister and a wanted man on a US terrorism list as minister inside.

World powers have told the Taliban that the key to peace and development is an inclusive government that upholds its promises of a more conciliatory, human rights-respecting approach after an earlier campaign in 1996.2001 period of power marked by blood feuds and the oppression of women.

Supreme Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, in his first public statement since the insurgents captured the capital Kabul on August 15, said the Taliban is committed to all laws, treaties and international commitments that are not in conflict with Islamic law.

“In the future, all matters of governance and life in Afghanistan will be governed by the laws of holy sharia,” he said in a statement, in which he also congratulated the Afghans for what he said. called for the country’s liberation from foreign rule.

The names announced for the new government, three weeks after the Taliban won military victory as US-led foreign forces withdrew and the weak Western-backed government collapsed, no gave no sign of olive branch to his opponents.

The United States said it was concerned about the backgrounds of some Cabinet members and noted that no women were included. “The world is watching closely,” said a spokesperson for the US State Department.

Afghans who have enjoyed major advances in education and civil liberties during the 20 years of US-backed government continue to fear the intentions of the Taliban and daily protests have continued since the takeover of the United States. Taliban, challenging the new rulers.

As the new government was announced on Tuesday, a group of Afghan women on a street in Kabul took shelter after the Taliban fired in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters.

The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, girls could not go to school and women were banned from work and education. Religious police whip anyone who breaks the rules and public executions take place.

The Taliban urged the Afghans to be patient and pledged to be more tolerant this time around – a commitment that many Afghans and foreign powers will carefully consider as a condition of aid and investment that Afghanistan desperately needs.

Mullah Hasan Akhund, appointed prime minister, like many Taliban leaders, derives much of his prestige from his close ties to the late founder of the movement, Mullah Omar, who presided over his reign two decades ago.

Akhund is the longtime head of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body, Rehbari Shura, or governing council. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs, then Deputy Prime Minister when the Taliban was last in power and, like many members of the new Cabinet, is under UN sanctions for his role in that government.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new Minister of the Interior, is the son of the founder of the Haqqani network, classified as a terrorist group by Washington. He is one of the FBI’s most wanted men due to his involvement in suicide bombings and his ties to Al Qaeda.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the political bureau of the movement which received his nom de guerre of “brother”, or Baradar, by Mullah Omar, has been appointed Akhund’s deputy, said chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at a press conference in Kabul.

Baradar’s time as head of government surprised some, as he had been tasked with negotiating the US withdrawal during talks in Qatar and presenting the face of the Taliban to the outside world.

Baradar was previously a senior Taliban commander in the long-running insurgency against US forces. He was arrested and jailed in Pakistan in 2010, becoming head of the Taliban political bureau in Doha after his release in 2018.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, a son of Mullah Omar, has been appointed Minister of Defense. All appointments were on an acting basis, Mujahid said.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One, as President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., flew to New York, that there would soon be no recognition. of the Taliban government.

Taliban spokesman Mujahid, speaking amid a collapse of public services and economic collapse amid the chaos of the tumultuous withdrawal of foreigners, said an interim cabinet has been formed to meet basic needs of the Afghan people.

He said some ministries remain to be filled pending a hunt for qualified people.

The United Nations said earlier Tuesday that basic services were collapsing in Afghanistan and food and other aid was on the verge of running out. More than half a million people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan this year.

An international donors’ conference is scheduled for Geneva on September 13. Western powers say they are ready to send humanitarian aid, but this broader economic commitment depends on the form and actions of the Taliban government.

On Monday, the Taliban claimed victory in the Panjshir Valley, the last province to resist it.

Images on social media showed members of the Taliban standing outside the compound of the Panjshir governor after days of fighting with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), commanded by Panjshiri leader Ahmad Massoud.

Massoud denied that his force, made up of remnants of the Afghan army as well as local militia fighters, was beaten and tweeted that “our resistance will continue”. – Reuters

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