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US and International Community Take Closer Look at Temporary Taliban Government

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 7, 2021.
US and International Community Take Closer Look at Temporary Taliban Government
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The United States says it is considering the Taliban’s announcement of a caretaker government in Afghanistan, saying it believes the Afghan people should have “an inclusive government.”

A State Department spokesperson told VOA Tuesday, “We will continue to hold the Taliban to their commitments to allow safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans with travel documents.”

The statement repeated the U.S. desire that “the Taliban ensure that Afghan soil is not used to threaten any other countries.” The U.S. also expects the Taliban to allow humanitarian aid for the Afghan people. “The world is watching closely,” the statement said.

The Taliban announced Tuesday a caretaker Islamic government, saying it will be headed by Mullah Hasan Akhund. He worked closely with the Islamist movement’s late founder Mullah Omar.

The announcement came a day after the Taliban said they had won control over the northern province of Panjshir. The province was the only area in Afghanistan that used armed resistance against the Taliban.

Taliban chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that all the appointments were temporary. He added that the heads of various other ministries will be appointed soon.

Akhund comes from the southern Afghan area of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. He led a group that often attacked the United States and allied forces during 20 years of war.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is head of the group’s political office. He will serve as the deputy prime minister in the caretaker government. The interior minister will be Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network. The U.S. has named the Haqqani network as an international terrorist organization, offering a $10 million reward for information that leads to Haqqani’s arrest. He is accused of directing deadly attacks against American and allied forces in Afghanistan.

Amir Khan Muttaqi will be the foreign minister and Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, will be the acting defense minister, Mujahid added.

Ahmadullah Wasiq is a senior member of the Taliban information ministry. He told reporters that the rarely-seen Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada will be the “amir” (supreme leader) of the government, or the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban have since told Afghans and foreign countries that they will appoint an “inclusive government” in the country. They say they will not bring back the severe Islamist rule of the 1990s. That government had a violent justice system and banned women and girls from public life. So far, the caretaker government is made up of all-male, Taliban members.

US President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House on April 14, 2021 in Washington, DC, about the withdrawal of the remainder of US troops from Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House on April 14, 2021 in Washington, DC, about the withdrawal of the remainder of US troops from Afghanistan.

Recognition "A long way off"

On Monday, a reporter asked U.S. President Joe Biden whether his administration would recognize the Taliban.

“No. That’s a long way off,” Biden said.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeated that there was no hurry to recognize the Taliban government.

“It is really going to be dependent on what steps the Taliban takes. They will be watching, the United States included, they will be watching whether they allow for American citizens and citizens of other countries to depart, whether they allow individuals who want to leave the country to leave … how they treat women and girls around the country.”

The U.S. and the international community have urged the Taliban to ensure protection of human rights and cut ties with al-Qaida terrorists. They are also demanding representation of all Afghan ethnic groups in the government if it wants to remain part of the international community.

China hopes order will be restored

Wang Wenbin is China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson. He said the formation of the Taliban government is important because it will restore social and economic order as soon as possible.

“We hope Afghanistan will establish a broadly based and inclusive political structure,” and follow moderate domestic and foreign policies while opposing terrorist forces and living on friendly terms with other countries, Wang added.

The United Nations reacted to the Taliban’s announcement by saying only a negotiated and inclusive settlement will bring long-lasting peace to Afghanistan.

U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said in New York that the U.N. is still working toward a peaceful solution. The U.N. wants to help “promote the human rights of all Afghans, notably women and girls, promote sustainable development in line with agenda 2030, and provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance and critical support to civilians in need.”

Michael Kugelman is deputy Asia program director at the Wilson Center. He noted that Taliban leaders have been appointed to all important positions. “It’s not at all inclusive, and that’s no surprise,” Kugelman said in social media.

At least 10 people in the 33-member Taliban Cabinet announced Tuesday were part of the group’s team that negotiated the February 2020 peace agreement with the U.S. That led to all foreign forces leaving after nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Ayaz Gul wrote this story for VOA News. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.


Words in This Story

commitmentn. a promise to do or give something

ensurev. to make (something) sure, certain, or safe

promotev. to help (something) happen, develop, or increase

sustainable – adj. able to last or continue for a long time

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