Mullah Hassan Akhund Leads Afghanistan’s New Caretaker Government
The Taliban named the senior members of their administration today (September 7, 2021), cementing their control over Afghanistan and establishing the tone of their new authority just days after a tumultuous US army withdrawal.
Following a rapid onslaught that devastated the former Afghan army, Islamist hardliners came into Kabul on August 15, promising a more “inclusive” style of administration than during their previous tenure in office from 1996 to 2001.
Despite this, they have made it clear that they will crush any insurgency, and they fired shots into the air on Tuesday to disperse hundreds of people who had gathered in Kabul for various protests in a show of defiance against a movement known for its violent and oppressive control.
At a press conference Tuesday evening, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the new government would be an interim one, with Taliban veteran Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund serving as acting prime minister.
He was deputy foreign minister under the Taliban’s previous regime and is on the UN’s no-fly list.
Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban, will be the deputy leader, according to Mujahid. He was previously the head of his movement’s political office, where he oversaw the signing of the US pullout agreement in 2020.
Mullah Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, was chosen defense minister, while Sirajuddin Haqqani, the commander of the notorious Haqqani network who also served as a Taliban deputy leader, was named interior minister.
Amir Khan Muttaqi has been named acting foreign minister, and Abas Stanikzai has been named acting deputy foreign minister, according to Mujahid.
“The cabinet isn’t finished; it’s just acting,” he explained. “We’ll aim to get individuals from all throughout the country.”
‘WE ARE TIRED’
Following a 20-year conflict, the Taliban are now faced with the enormous burden of administering Afghanistan, which is beset by economic problems and security threats, particularly from the Islamic State’s local affiliate.
Some Afghans are skeptical of the Taliban’s ability to turn their promise of a more moderate rule into reality, as evidenced by sporadic protests in recent days.
“Afghan women desire independence for their homeland. They want to rebuild their country. We’re exhausted “At one eventon Tuesday (September 7), more than 70 people, largely women, gathered, according to protester Sarah Fahim.
A separate gathering was captured on video and shared on social media, with over a hundred people marching through the streets under the careful eye of armed Taliban members.
In recent days, sporadic rallies have taken place in smaller cities, such Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, where women have requested to be included in a new administration.
‘GET OUT OF HERE!’
General Mobin, a Taliban officer in charge of security in the capital, told AFP that Taliban guards had summoned him because “women were causing a nuisance.”
“These demonstrators have been recruited solely on the basis of a foreign intelligence scheme,” he asserted.
The Taliban snatched an Afghan journalist’s press ID and camera as he was covering the demonstration, according to AFP. “I got kicked and told to leave,” he explained.
The Afghan Independent Journalists Association, based in Kabul, later reported that 14 journalists, both Afghan and foreign, were temporarily detained during the protests before being freed.
Reporters’ hands and knees were sliced and bruised in photos circulated on the internet.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban have reaffirmed their commitment to allowing Afghans to leave the country freely.
“They will let persons with travel documents easily exit,” the Taliban informed the US, Blinken said at a news conference in Doha, where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited their Qatari counterparts.
Following allegations that several hundred people, including Americans, had been barred from flying out of an airport in northern Afghanistan for a week, US President Joe Biden has been under increasing criticism.
The demonstrations took place a day after the Taliban claimed entire control of Afghanistan, claiming victory in the important fight for the Panjshir Valley.
The Taliban resorted to battling the resistance forces defending the mountainous territory after their lightning-fast triumph over the former Afghan government’s security forces in mid-August and the withdrawal of US soldiers after 20 years of war.
Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, cautioned against any additional uprisings against their rule in a press conference on Monday.
“Anyone who attempts to start an insurgency will be severely punished. We will not allow it to happen again “he stated.
News Source: AFP, AP, New York Times, and Washington Post.