Taliban Announces New Provisional Government in Afghanistan

The Taliban announced the formation of a provisional government headed by Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, one of the founders of the ultranationalist group. After four weeks of the Taliban’s resumption of political power in the country, the provisional administration should last “until a more stable moment arrives”, they assured at a press conference.

The group announced the formation of a Council of Leaders, similar to the one that ruled the country between 1996 and 2001, to replace the Superior Council for Reconciliation, headed by Abdullah Abdullah, who took power in August.

Akhund, who becomes the new Afghan prime minister, was foreign minister in the 1990s, before the invasion of US troops and the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO). In the new interim administration, the Taliban leader will be joined by Abdul Ghani Baradar as deputy prime minister. Baradar was one of the Taliban representatives at the negotiating tables with the US in Doha, Qatar.

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As the new Interior Minister is Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network. Until the evacuation of Afghanistan, Haqqani was wanted by the FBI, with a reward of $5 million. He was even sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, accused of terrorism and of being the bridge between Afghan groups and al-Qaeda.

The Haqqani network will also lead the refugee portfolio, with Khalil Haqqani.

The new defense minister will be Mullah Yaqoob, another Taliban public leader since 2016, and the son of one of the founders of the fundamentalist group, Mullah Omar.

During the press conference, the holders of the Economy, Finance, Culture and Information, Foreign Affairs portfolios were also appointed. The head of the intelligence service, Han Vasisk, and the new president of the Central Bank, Mohammad Idris, were also named. In relation to the Ministry of Women, the Taliban have stated that they will deal with this issue in the future.

“We hope that every country in the world will recognize our legitimacy,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. The first Taliban regime, in the 1990s, was only recognized by the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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In recent weeks, members of the Taliban summit have met with representatives from the European Union, the United States, Qatar and China.

After the announcement by the interim government, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declared that “there is no rush for recognition” and that the decision of the Biden administration “will depend on the next steps of the Taliban”.

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The Russian government also said it had yet to take a decision on Afghanistan and was monitoring the situation “carefully”. Chancellor Serguei Lavrov affirmed that they were invited to the inauguration of the interim government and that they will be able to participate in the ceremony if the new administration is “inclusive”.

Iran, meanwhile, said its aim was to solve Afghanistan’s problems without being “dragged into war with other countries.” Quds Force Commander Esmail Qaani argued that the purpose of the United States in invading Afghanistan was to exert domination over Iran and other Middle Eastern nations. The Iranian military reiterated “what is happening in Afghanistan must be based on the opinion of the Afghan people.”

Edition: Vivian Virissimo

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