The Taliban-led interim government in Afghanistan does not reflect what the international community and the US hoped to see, the Biden administration has said, as it expressed concern over the lack of inclusivity and the track records and the backgrounds of some of the individuals involved in governing the country.
The Taliban insurgents seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August, ousting the previous elected leadership which was backed by the West.
The Taliban on Tuesday announced a caretaker Cabinet led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, with key roles being shared by high-profile members of the hardline Islamist group, including a specially designated global terrorist of the dreaded Haqqani Network as the interior minister.
“We have spoken about our reaction to the initial caretaker government. You have heard us say that the lack of inclusivity, the track records, the backgrounds of some of the individuals involved, are a cause for concern. It certainly does not reflect what the international community and what, as a part of that, the United States hoped to see,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.
Taliban’s hardline interim government includes specially designated global terrorist and Haqqani network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani as the acting interior minister.
“Now, we note this is an initial caretaker government. We note that some of these positions remain unfulfilled. So what will be important to us is not only the composition of any future government of Afghanistan. Again, we will look to see to it that it is inclusive, to see to it that it is representative of the people that the Taliban purport to represent,” he said.
The US also looks towards their actions, and that was another constant refrain when America and its closest allies and partners met in Ramstein, Germany.
“There were several elements of consensus that emerged, and in fact, there were key questions that many of the participants posed: Will the Taliban uphold their commitments to freedom of travel and safe passage — in the case of the United States for Americans, but also for third-country nationals, for our Afghan partners? Will they live up to their counterterrorism commitments?” he asked.
“There was a broad discussion of the threat from ISIS-K, from al-Qaeda, from terrorist groups that may seek to operate or that are operating on Afghan soil. Will they form an inclusive government? That will be a key question that we’ll look to see as the future Afghan government comes together.”
“And will they sustain progress for women and girls? In other words, will the gains of the past 20 years that no country did more to facilitate and support than the United States, will those gains be preserved?” he asked.
Answers to those questions remain unanswered, he said.
“We will together be able to answer those questions with our allies and partners as we start to see how the Taliban is going to purport to govern, how it will treat its people, how it will treat our people, how it will confront threats not only to the Taliban but threats to us as well, and that includes from ISIS-K,” Price said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) is an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant active in South Asia and Central Asia.
The United States and the international community, he said, will continue to hold the Taliban to account for its public and private commitments, the commitments it has made in private that those with valid travel documents who wish to leave the country will be able to do so.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted a ministerial meeting along with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany on Wednesday, and this was a topic of discussion, he said.
Among the consistent themes they heard from the more than 20 countries and organisations that took part was the need to work collectively, using every tool at their disposal, to hold the Taliban responsible for those commitments.
“Of course, we would like to see more such flights, flights similar to the one that took off today. We have heard public statements that more, in fact, may be forthcoming. But obviously, we don’t want to prejudge that, and we will continue to do everything we can together with our partners to work towards that goal,” he said, referring to an evacuation flight.