Taliban appoint ex-Guantanamo prisoners and one of many FBI’s most needed males as the brand new interim authorities
Despite the Taliban’s promise of an inclusive government and a more moderate form of Islamic rule than during their last term in office from 1996 to 2001, no women or members of the deposed leadership of Afghanistan were selected for incumbent cabinet positions or advisory roles.
The Taliban appointed Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a close associate of the late Taliban founder Mohammad Omar, as acting prime minister and one of the group’s co-founders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was appointed his deputy. Mohammed Yaqoob, a son of Omar, was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense.
The selection conveys a vision of the future that is unlikely to allay concerns foreign governments as the Taliban seek international recognition and much-needed assistance. Without access to the money frozen by the US and other nations, as well as the International Monetary Fund, Afghanistan is facing a deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation. Global leaders and lenders are still waiting to see how the Taliban will treat opposition, women, and religious and ethnic minorities.
In a phone call with Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan, the Iranian Foreign Minister on Tuesday called for an Afghan government based on dialogue between all groups, stressing the need to form an inclusive government that reflects the country’s diverse ethnic makeup.
“We represent all of Afghanistan, and we speak on the level of all of Afghanistan, and our struggle was based on all of Afghanistan. We are not people of any tribe or ethnicity, and we do not believe in them,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday at a press conference in Kabul and announced the interim government.
Zabihullah said in a statement that the new government would protect “the highest interests of the country” and uphold Sharia law as interpreted by the Taliban. The militant group said they would soon appoint permanent leadership.
Former Guantanamo detainees, one of the FBI’s most wanted men
The list of high-ranking positions, including former Guantanamo detainees, members of a US-designated terrorist group and subjects on an international sanctions list, provides an initial snapshot of how the Taliban leadership will take shape in Afghanistan.
Like many in the Taliban’s new cabinet, the interim Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund is subject to United Nations sanctions. A longtime Taliban member, he has been the leader of the Shura or the group’s leadership council for about two decades.
Some analysts originally picked Abdul Ghani Baradar for the top role. Baradar served in the Taliban’s Politburo in Doha, Qatar, and led the Taliban’s peace talks with the United States. He recently returned to Afghanistan after 20 years in exile and reportedly met with CIA chief William J. Burns.
Two senior members of the Haqqani Network, a US-designated terrorist group allied with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, will also be in the interim government. Both were sanctioned by the United Nations and the United States.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the network, will be acting interior minister. Haqqani has been one of two deputy Taliban leaders since 2016. As a member of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, he has a $ 10 million bounty.
Khalil Haqqani, Sirajuddin’s uncle, has been appointed deputy minister for refugees. He has a $ 5 million bounty for his previous relationship with al-Qaeda. Two other members of the Haqqani clan have also been appointed to positions in the transitional government.
Four men who held senior positions in government had previously been arrested by the United States in Guantanamo Bay and as part of a prisoner exchange against Sgt.Bowe Bergdahl in 2014: The Taliban appointed Noorullah Noori as Acting Minister for Borders and Tribal Affairs, Abdul Haq Wasiq as Acting Director of Intelligence, Khairullah Khair as Acting Minister for Information and Culture and Mohammad Fazil Mazloom as Deputy Minister of Defense.
A fifth detainee released in 2014, Mohammed Nabi Omari, was appointed the new governor of southeastern Khost province last month, according to the Taliban.
Most of them were middle to high-ranking officials of the Taliban regime, which was ousted in 2001 and imprisoned in Afghanistan at the beginning of the war.
Women excluded from the new government
The announcement came on Tuesday, the day after the Taliban claimed control of the last refusing Afghan province and amid the largest street protests since the militant group took control of Afghanistan, captured the capital Kabul and stormed the presidential palace in mid-August, without firing a single shot.
Among the hundreds of demonstrators were women who demanded equal rights and full participation in political life under the rule of the Taliban. The demonstrations were broken up by the Taliban. Some demonstrators were reportedly violently beaten and others arrested.
Taliban leaders have publicly insisted that women play a prominent role in society in Afghanistan and have access to education. But they were not involved in talks about forming a government. Over the past few weeks, the Taliban have been signaling women to stay at home and, in some cases, militants have ordered women to leave their jobs.
No women’s ministry was mentioned in Tuesday’s announcement, and Zabihullah only said that the Taliban would be looking into the matter.
“Following today’s news of the exclusion of women in the new government announced by the Taliban, I express my disappointment and dismay with many around the world at a development that undermines recent commitments to protect and respect the rights of Afghan women Question asks. “And girls,” said Pramila Patten, incumbent chairwoman of UN Women, calling on the Taliban to meet its obligations under constitutional provisions and international treaties in order to guarantee equality for all citizens.
“I also note with grave concern the reported use of force by the Kabul authorities against peaceful protesters, mainly women, who have called for equal rights to be exercised. including their right to participate in public and political life, “she said.
When asked about the Taliban’s actions against demonstrators, Zabihullah said illegal demonstrations were not allowed.
CNN’s Jack Guy contributed to this report.