Taliban appoint new Afghan government and use gunfire to break up Kabul protests

The Taliban announced top members of their government on Tuesday, in a move that they will consolidate their power over Afghanistan and set the tone for their new government just days after a chaotic US troop withdrawal.

The hardline Islamists, who stormed Kabul on August 15 after a blitzkrieg that decimated the former Afghan army, had promised a more “inclusive” type of government than in their first term in power in 1996-2001.

However, they made it clear that they will end any insurgency, and on Tuesday they fired into the air to disperse hundreds of people who had gathered at various rallies in Kabul in defiance of a movement remembered for its brutal and oppressive rule.

On Tuesday night, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference that the new government would be interim and that veteran Taliban Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund would be its new interim prime minister.

He served as deputy foreign minister under the former Taliban regime and is on a UN blacklist.

Mujahid also said that Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy leader. He previously served as head of his movement’s political office, overseeing the 2020 signing of the US withdrawal agreement.

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Mullah Yaqoob, son of the founder and late Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar, was appointed Defense Minister, while the post of Interior Minister was given to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the dreaded Haqqani network who also doubled as leader. Taliban deputy.

“The cabinet is not complete, it is just acting,” Mujahid said.

“We will try to bring people from other parts of the country.”

Protester: ‘Afghan women want their country to be free’

After their 20-year insurgency, the Taliban now face the colossal task of ruling Afghanistan, which is plagued with economic problems and security challenges, including from the local chapter of the Islamic State group.

Scattered protests in recent days have indicated that some Afghans are skeptical of the Taliban’s ability to turn their promise of a more moderate government into reality.

“Afghan women want their country to be free. They want their country to be rebuilt. We are tired,” protester Sarah Fahim told AFP at a demonstration on Tuesday, 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 members of the Taliban.

Scattered demonstrations have also taken place in smaller cities in recent days, including Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, where women have demanded to be part of a new government.

General Mobin, a Taliban official in charge of security in the capital, told AFP that Taliban guards called him to the scene and said “the women were creating a disturbance.”

“These protesters are gathering based solely on the conspiracy of foreign intelligence,” he said.

An Afghan journalist covering the demonstration told AFP that the Taliban confiscated his press ID and camera.

“They kicked me and told me to leave,” he said.

Later, the Kabul-based Afghanistan Association of Independent Journalists said that 14 journalists, Afghan and foreign, were briefly detained during the protests before being released.

Images shared online showed journalists with cuts and bruises on their hands and knees.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban had reiterated their commitment to allow Afghans to leave Afghanistan freely.

The Taliban told the United States that “they will allow people with travel documents to leave freely,” Blinken told a press conference in Doha, where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with their Qatari counterparts.

US President Joe Biden has faced mounting pressure amid reports that several hundred people, including Americans, have been prevented from flying from an airport in northern Afghanistan for a week.

Taliban ‘will not allow another’ insurgency, spokesman says

Tuesday’s demonstrations come after the Taliban claimed full control over Afghanistan a day earlier, saying they had won the key battle for the Panjshir Valley.

Following their swift victory in mid-August over the security forces of the former Afghan government and the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war, the Taliban set about fighting the resistance forces defending the mountainous region.

At a press conference on Monday, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, warned against any further attempts to rise up against his government.

“Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another,” he said.


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