Turkish caution and American patience Taliban form a government and affirm adherence to Sharia and provide messages of reassurance to the world

Turkish caution and American patience Taliban form a government and affirm adherence to Sharia and provide messages of reassurance to the world

On Tuesday, the Taliban announced the formation of a new government and appointed an army chief, while caution overshadowed the most prominent reactions to the move that the international community has been anticipating in recent weeks.

The Taliban said that Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund would be the head of the new government in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said during a press conference that Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be deputy prime minister.

Baradar is respected by the various factions in the Taliban, and especially presided over the negotiations in Doha with the Americans, which led to the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Among the appointments announced this evening, Tuesday, Mullah Yaqoub - Mullah Omar's son - will take over the Ministry of Defense, while the leader of the Haqqani Network, Sirajuddin Haqqani, will take over the Ministry of Interior.

Amir Khan Mottaki, who represented the Taliban in the Doha negotiations, was appointed foreign minister.

The movement announced the appointment of Mawlawi Faseeh al-Din as the acting army commander.

Sources told Al Jazeera that Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Sharia took the position of Acting Minister of Justice, while Mullah Abdul Latif Mansour held the position of Minister of Electricity and Water.

Abdel-Haq Wathiq was appointed chief of intelligence, while Haji Idriss was appointed head of the Central Bank.

And the media circulated other names that held ministerial portfolios, including tribal affairs, immigrants and the media.

Mujahid stressed that "the government is incomplete," noting that the movement, which promised a "comprehensive" government, will try to "include other people from other regions in the country" into the government.

The Taliban leader asked the new government to adhere to the application of Sharia, in his first position since the movement took power in Afghanistan.

"I assure all citizens that the rulers will do everything in their power to uphold Islamic law in the country," Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzadeh said in a statement.

UN comment

Commenting on the announcement of the formation of the government, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the international organization does not participate in the work of recognizing governments because the decision rests with the member states.

"In our view with regard to today's announcement, only a negotiated comprehensive settlement will bring about sustainable peace in Afghanistan," he added.

"The United Nations remains committed to contributing to a peaceful solution, promoting the human rights of all Afghans - particularly women and girls - and promoting sustainable development, in line with Agenda 2030, and providing life-saving humanitarian assistance and vital support to civilians in need."

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made cautious statements about the new Afghan government announced by the Taliban, stressing that he will closely monitor its future path.

During a joint media appearance with his guest, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, Erdogan said, "As you just learned, it is difficult to call it permanent, an interim government has been announced."

"We do not know how long this interim government will last. Our duty now is to follow this path closely," he added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a television interview, " We hope that the next Afghan government will be an inclusive government that includes everyone, and not only Taliban and Pashtuns, it should include other ethnicities such as Tajiks, Hazaras, Turkmen and Uzbeks, and it should include women as well, and as you know the Women are organizing demonstrations in Herat, Kabul and elsewhere to take their place and get their rights, and they are right.”

Cavusoglu had confirmed earlier on Tuesday that "there is no need to rush" to recognize the Taliban government.

The American position

Early Wednesday morning, US President Joe Biden described China as having a real problem with the Taliban.

Biden said he was sure that Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad and Tehran would try to reach an understanding with the Taliban, which formed a caretaker government, noting that those countries are trying to figure out what they should do to deal with the Taliban.

"We are concerned about the affiliations and records of some members of the new government announced by the Taliban," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Price stressed that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government, and that his country expects the Taliban to ensure that Afghan territory is not used to threaten any country.

"The Taliban announced the government's list as temporary, and we will judge it by deeds, not words," he added.

The US State Department confirmed that it will continue to hold the Taliban to their pledge to allow the safe passage of foreigners and Afghans who wish to leave the country.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Taliban's formation of a caretaker government does not automatically grant it legitimacy.

He added that the United States and the rest of the world will be watching closely to see how they govern the country in the coming weeks.

Hours earlier, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Washington was "in no rush" to recognize the new government, saying that "it will depend on the steps taken by the Taliban," and that "the world will be watching, including the United States."

The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said - in a radio interview with "BBC" (BBC) - that the Taliban will face challenges and will not be able to achieve stability even if they come to power by force.

Khalilzad added that Washington would use its influence, would not provide $3.3 billion in aid, would not conclude a political agreement, and would not recognize the Taliban.

The US envoy also said that he learned of the visit of a Taliban delegation to former President Hamid Karzai in late 2001, carrying a message of welcome from the movement to the new government at the time, considering that this may be an important opportunity that was not exploited and may be one of the mistakes of the past 20 years.

Diplomacy and freedom of expression

In a related context, Suhail Shaheen - another spokesman for the Taliban - said that the movement seeks good relations with all countries, including the United States, which occupied Afghanistan for 20 years.

However, he stressed that the Taliban will not establish relations with Israel, which was established on Arab lands usurped in 1948, and is still occupying Jerusalem and the West Bank and besieging the Gaza Strip, as well as occupying the Syrian Golan and the Lebanese Shebaa Farms.

In an interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik, Shaheen said, "We want relations with all countries of the world, and we would like to have relations with all countries of the region and neighboring countries as well as Asian countries. Israel is not among these countries, and of course we will not have any relationship with them."

Shaheen welcomed relations with Washington, "If America wants to have a relationship with us, and if that is in the interest of the two countries and peoples, and if they want to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, we welcome them."

Regarding freedom of expression, Shaheen said, "We will not impose any restrictions on social media, and we believe in freedom of expression."

Demonstrations in Kabul

In a related context, the Taliban opened fire on Tuesday in the air to disperse hundreds of people who organized several rallies in Kabul, especially near the presidential palace and in front of the Pakistani embassy.

At least 3 rallies were held throughout Kabul, and protester Sarah Fahim said, "Women want their country to be free. They want it to be reconstructed. We are tired."

"We want all our people to live a normal life. How long will we live in this situation?"

Demonstrators in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif raised banners and chanted slogans to express their dissatisfaction with the security situation, and to demand permission to travel freely, while accusing Pakistan of interfering, given its close historical relations with the Taliban.

In the Shahr-e-Naw district of the capital, Kabul, hundreds of people participated in a march in response to Ahmed Shah Masoud’s call to denounce the fall of Panjshir province under the rule of the Taliban. AJ news correspondent witnessed the protection of Taliban elements for this demonstration, which raised slogans denouncing what they described as Pakistan’s interference in Afghan affairs.

Another protester, Zahra Mohammadi, a doctor from Kabul, said, "We want Afghanistan to be free. We want freedom."

There were also scattered demonstrations in smaller cities over the past few days, including Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, where women demanded a role in the new government.

Alien conspiracy

In his press conference, Zabihullah Mujahid accused unnamed foreign parties of being behind the demonstrations, and said that these parties aim to "create problems in the country," explaining, " We declare that until all institutions and administrations are opened, no one should demonstrate."

Mujahid considered that the country has emerged from the impasse and the war and that this is not the time for demonstrations, adding that the demonstrations must be subject to the law and be carried out in coordination with the Ministry of Justice and the police to secure them.

A Taliban official who oversees the security of the capital, General Mobin, said that Taliban guards had summoned him to the scene, saying that "the women are causing disturbances." "These demonstrators gathered based on the conspiracy of foreign intelligence," he added.

An Afghan journalist who was covering the demonstration reported that the Taliban had confiscated his media ID and camera. "I was kicked and asked to leave," he said.

Later, the Kabul-based Independent Afghan Journalists Association said 14 journalists, both Afghans and foreigners, were briefly detained during the protests before being released.

"The association strongly condemns the violent treatment of journalists in the recent demonstrations, and calls on the authorities of the Islamic Emirate to take appropriate measures to prevent violence and protect journalists," she added in a statement.

Pictures circulated online showed reporters with cuts and bruises on their hands and knees.
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