The reception given by the West to the new executive in Afghanistan is unsurprising. On Wednesday, they reacted negatively to the composition of the interim government, which includes the old Taliban guard but no women, and contrasts with the regime’s promises of openness.
Back in power, the Taliban will have to “gain” their legitimacy with the international community, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The new government presented on Tuesday is neither “inclusive” nor “representative” of the ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan, the EU also lamented. China, one of the few countries to keep its embassy open in Kabul, has on the other hand welcomed the establishment of an executive which puts an end to “more than three weeks of anarchy”.
In this government led by Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a former close collaborator of the founder of the movement, Mullah Omar, there are several personalities who were already very influential when the Islamists imposed a fundamentalist regime between 1996 and 2001. All the members are Taliban and almost all of them. belong to the Pashtun ethnic group.
Importantly, several of the new ministers are on UN sanction lists and four have passed through the US prison at Guantanamo. The interior portfolio goes, for example, to Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the eponymous network, described as terrorist by Washington and historically close to Al-Qaeda.
In announcing this government, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it was “not complete” and that the movement would try to include “people from other parts of the country” afterwards. The EU recalled that having an “inclusive and representative” government was “one of the five conditions” for possible diplomatic recognition. France also deplored that “actions do not follow words”.
During a press conference organized at the American base in Ramstein in Germany after a virtual meeting of ministers from 20 countries to coordinate the response to the Taliban, the head of American diplomacy told him that the interim government “is composed ( a) exclusively members of the Taliban or their close associates ”and expressed concern“ about the affiliations and backgrounds of some of these individuals ”.
The return of the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Repression of Vice, which was the reign of terror in the 1990s, is also causing concern among the population. Several demonstrations against the new regime, bringing together a majority of women, have also taken place in large cities, and were dispersed by gunfire on Tuesday in Kabul. On the same day, protests took a deadly turn in Herat, where two people were killed and eight shot and wounded on Tuesday, according to a local doctor. The situation remained fairly calm on Wednesday.