Taliban Rebuild Economic Ties and New Government in Afghanistan

September 2, 2021

Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders were planning to reveal a new government on Thursday, as the country’s economy tumbled on the brink of collapse over than two weeks after they apprehended Kabul and decided to bring a disorganized end to 20 years of war.

On social media, Taliban official Ahmadullah Muttaqi said a ceremony was being planned at Kabul’s presidential palace, while private TV channel Tolo said an official statement on a new government was likely to occur. A senior Taliban official told Reuters last month that supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada was predicted to have high control over a governing council headed by him.

According to analysts, the credibility of the new government in the eyes of foreign donors and shareholders will be critical for Afghanistan’s economy which is expected to crumble following the Taliban’s hold on power. The supreme Taliban leader is assisted by three deputies: Mawlavi Yaqoob, son of the late movement’s founder, Mullah Omar; Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the powerful Haqqani network; and Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s pioneers.

The Taliban’s first government was run by an unelected leadership council which cruelly enshrined in law their literal interpretation of Islamic law from 1996 until its overthrow by US-led forces in 2001. Since sweeping it apart the US-backed government and returning to power last month, the Taliban have tried to present a more pragmatic face to the world, convincing to respect human rights and abstain from retaliating against old enemies.

However, the US, the EU, and others have questioned such security guarantees, claiming that official recognition of the new government and the economic support that would follow is conditional on action. “We’re not going to take them at their word; we’re going to take them at their actions,” US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said during a news conference on Wednesday. “So they have a lot to prove based on their own track record but they also have a lot to gain if they can run Afghanistan very differently than they did the last time they were in power.”

Gunnar Wiegand, managing director of the European Commission for Asia and the Pacific, stated that the European Union would not officially recognize the group until it met circumstances such as the establishment of an inclusive government, protection of human rights, and unrestricted access for aid workers.

“There is no doubt among EU member states and in the G7 context: we need to take part with the Taliban, talk with the Taliban, influence the Taliban, and use the levers that we have,” he told members of the European Parliament in Brussels. “However, we will not move to appreciate this new formation or develop official relations.”

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