The Taliban announced the top members of their government on Tuesday, in a move that will strengthen their power over Afghanistan and set the stage for their new rule, just days after a chaotic withdrawal of US troops.
The Islamist hardliners, who invaded Kabul on August 15 after a lightning offensive that decimated the former Afghan military, had promised a more “inclusive” kind of rule than during their first stint in power in 1996-2001.
They have nevertheless made it clear that they will stamp out any insurgency, and on Tuesday they fired shots into the air to disperse hundreds of people who had gathered at various rallies in Kabul in a sign of resistance against a movement known for its brutality. and oppressive rule.
On Tuesday evening, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference that the new government would be an interim government and that Taliban veteran Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund would serve as the new acting prime minister.
He was deputy foreign minister under the old Taliban regime and is on a UN blacklist.
Mujahid also said Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy leader. Previously, he headed his movement’s political bureau and oversaw the 2020 signing of the US Withdrawal Agreement.
Mullah Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder and late Supreme Leader Mullah Omar, was appointed defense minister, while the post of interior minister was given to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the feared Haqqani network who also acted as deputy leader of the Taliban.
“The cabinet is not complete, it is just acting,” said Mujahid.
“We will try to bring people from other parts of the country.”
‘We are tired’
After their 20-year insurgency, the Taliban now face the colossal task of governing Afghanistan, which is plagued by economic and security problems – including from the local branch of the Islamic State group.
Scattered protests in recent days have shown that some Afghans are skeptical of the Taliban’s ability to implement their promise of more moderate rule.
“Afghan women want their country to be free. They want their country to be rebuilt. We are tired,” protester Sarah Fahim told AFP on Tuesday during a demonstration where more than 70 people, mostly women, had gathered.
Videos posted on social media of a separate demonstration showed more than 100 people marching through the streets under the watchful eye of armed Taliban members.
In recent days there have also been scattered demonstrations in smaller towns, including Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, where women have asked to be part of a new government.
General Mobin, a Taliban official responsible for security in the capital, told AFP he had been called to the scene by Taliban guards who said “women were causing a disturbance”.
“These protesters have only been gathered on the basis of the conspiracy of foreign intelligence agencies,” he claimed.
An Afghan journalist covering the demonstration told AFP that his press ID and camera had been seized by the Taliban.
“I was kicked and told to leave,” he said.
Later, the Kabul-based Afghan Independent Journalists Association said 14 journalists – Afghan and foreign – were detained briefly during the protests before being released.
Footage shared online showed reporters with cuts and bruises on their hands and knees.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban had reiterated a promise to release Afghans from Afghanistan.
The Taliban told the United States that “they will release people with travel documents freely,” Blinken said at a news conference in Doha, where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met their Qatari counterparts.
US President Joe Biden is under mounting pressure amid reports that hundreds of people, including Americans, have been prevented from flying out of an airport in northern Afghanistan for a week.
Tuesday’s demonstrations come after the Taliban claimed full control of Afghanistan the day before and said they had won the main battle of the Panjshir Valley.
After their lightning-quick victory over the former Afghan government’s security forces in mid-August and the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war, the Taliban turned to fighting resistance forces defending the mountainous region.
In a press conference on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid warned of further attempts to rebel against their rule.
“Anyone who tries to start an uprising will be hit hard. We will not allow another one,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)