Taliban expected to announce new government today: 10 points
The Taliban are likely to announce their ‘new government’ in Afghanistan on Saturday, news agencies reported, even as the last flame of resistance burns on in Panjshir Valley, with rebel fighters hitting back at the hardline Islamist militants. According to reports, Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is set to lead the new Afghan regime, joined by Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, in senior positions. Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban's supreme religious leader, will focus on religious matters and governance within the framework of Islam, reported the Reuters news agency.
The Taliban face the enormous challenge of shifting gears from being an insurgent group to governing power, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war. Here's what we know of the situation so far:
1. The Taliban ‘government’ would comprise 25 ministries, with a consultative council, or Shura, of 12 Muslim scholars, a person close to the Islamist militant group said on Friday. They added that while the Taliban have often spoken of their desire to form a consensus government with other Afghan leaders, the interim government which is now being formed would consist solely of Taliban members.
2. A Loya Jirga, or ‘grand assembly’ is also in the works, to be formed within six to eight months. This assembly is aimed at bringing together elders and representatives across Afghan society to discuss a constitution and the structure of the future government.
3. While there is no definite timeframe on when the interim government cabinet would be finalised, those privy to the matter have said that it would be settled by Saturday, while others feel it could take until the middle of next week.
4. Meanwhile, the Taliban are still battling the extinguish the last flame of resistance in the Panjshir Valley, which held out for a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001.
5. Even though rumours spread on Friday in Kabul suggesting Panjshir had fallen and celebratory gunfire rang across the Afghan capital soon after, the Taliban made no official claims in this regard. Moreover, a resident told the AFP news agency, on the condition of anonymity, that the reports were false.
6. It is understood that anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces, who now make up the National Resistance Front based in Kabul, have significant weapon stockpiles in the Panjshir valley, which lies around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kabul.
7. Meanwhile, much of the world seems to have adopted a wait-and-watch strategy with regards to the Taliban and their new regime in Afghanistan. The new government's legitimacy in the eyes of international donors and investors will be crucial. Humanitarian groups have warned of impending catastrophe, and the economy, reliant for years on millions of dollars in foreign aid, is near collapse.
8. Denmark's foreign minister Jeppe Kofod has told a broadcaster that the country will not recognise any Taliban government, essentially becoming the first country to take such a position. British foreign minister Dominic Raab also said that it is necessary to engage with the Taliban to ensure safe corridors for those hoping to leave war-torn Afghanistan, but it doesn't mean Britain is ready to recognise a Taliban government.
9. United States, too, is in no hurry to recognise the Taliban regime. The White House said that the Biden administration has no current plans to release billions in Afghan gold, investments, and foreign currency reserves, which it froze after the Taliban takeover. Western powers say formal recognition of the Taliban government and a resulting flow of economic aid will depend on action to safeguard human rights, the rule of law, and the media.
10. United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has decided to convene a high-level meeting on Afghanistan in Geneva on September 13 to focus on humanitarian assistance for the country. The UN has already restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, while the country's flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic flights on Friday and the United Arab Emirates sent a plane carrying "urgent medical and food aid".