Saudi Arabia bats for Taliban regime in Afghanistan, says no to ‘external interference’
In what comes as one of its first reactions to the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia has said that it hopes the advent of a caretaker government will help the war-torn nation achieve ‘stability’ and overcome violence and extremism. Saudi Arabia will support “the choices the Afghan people make regarding the future of their country, away from external interference”, the country's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, without elaborating much on the Taliban's approach to governance.
Speaking at a news conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that the kingdom hopes the formation of the caretaker administration in Afghanistan will be a “step in the right direction towards achieving security and stability, rejecting violence and extremism, building a bright future in line with these aspirations”.
The Saudi foreign minister said the kingdom respects Afghanistan's sovereignty and reaffirmed his country's support for the Afghan people, pledging to provide assistance in tiding over this ‘difficult time’. He also expressed his condolences for the people of Afghanistan and the families of the victims who lost their lives in the Kabul airport bombings last month.
The Afghan people should be able to make future choices for their country without any ‘external interference’, the Saudi minister noted, adding that the Taliban and all other Afghan parties will hopefully work to maintain peace and security and protect the lives and property of civilians.
Notably, during the Taliban's earlier rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, Saudi Arabia was among the three countries, along with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which accepted the legitimacy of the regime.
In its current stint as the rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban has dismayed Western powers by appointing several hardliners to top posts in the new government, including a senior minister with an FBI bounty on his head and multiple others sanctioned by the United States and the United Nations.
Tens of thousands of people fled Afghanistan after the Islamist group seized power in mid-August following a lightning military campaign. Many of those who left were professionals fearing reprisals because of their association with the previous Western-backed government.