Kinder, gentler Taliban name "interim cabinet" that looks a lot like the old Taliban

AP Photo/Zabi Karimi

The Taliban is moving quickly to reestablish their formal rule of Afghanistan and if you were expecting any big changes and reforms out of the new, kinder, gentler Taliban then… you probably haven’t visited this site very often. The announcement was released today, including a partial list of officials who will be in charge of the nation. Most of them won’t require much research for anyone who has been paying attention, since it’s really the old guard of the Taliban (at least the ones who survived the war, anyway) with a few younger wartime leaders mixed in. And since the European Union made it very clear that there needed to be representation from both sides if the new government is to be taken seriously, how many non-Taliban members are in this cabinet? If you guessed “not a single one,” give yourself a cookie. But don’t worry. They said this is just an “interim” government so I’m sure big changes are on the way. (Associated Press)

The Taliban on Tuesday announced a caretaker Cabinet that paid homage to the old guard of the group, giving top posts to Taliban personalities who dominated the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan government allies.

Interim Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund headed the Taliban government in Kabul during the last years of its rule. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had led talks with the United States and signed the deal that led to America’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan, will be one of two deputies to Akhund.

There was no evidence of non-Taliban in the lineup, a big demand of the international community.

So the man at the top acting as “interim” Prime Minister is Mullah Hasan Akhund. That’s the same Mullah who was in charge when we originally wound up having to invade twenty years ago. Yep, he’s the guy who turned down multiple offers from George W. Bush to avoid an invasion and gain foreign aid advantages if they would just turn over Osama bin Laden. And now he’s back in charge again. It’s like they’re replaying all of their greatest hits.

One of his deputies is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, from the Taliban’s new political wing. He’s the guy who has been negotiating with Joe Biden’s team for the past several months. He’s also the guy who made most of the promises that have thus far turned out to be lies.

So they haven’t listed any non-Taliban men in positions of power yet. How about women? You’ll recall that it’s been made very clear to the Taliban by the EU and the international community that women must be involved in the government. So are there any ladies on the list? Nope. At least not so far.

The spokesman who announced the new leadership assured reporters that this was simply an “interim” government. But he offered no indication whatsoever as to what might bring about an end to the interim phase and lead to a more permanent governmental structure. As the Associated Press notes in the linked report, the Taliban have given no indication that they plan to hold elections… ever.

Shortly before the announcement, another protest started to form in Kabul, with younger people – including many women – demonstrating outside of the Pakistani embassy. They accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban over the years and subverting the previous government. Taliban soldiers responded by firing guns into the air and making dozens of arrests, including the arrest of reporters who were there to cover the protest. As you’ll recall, another EU condition for recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate government and the delivery of foreign aid was an assurance that they would protect the freedom of the press.

Things are clearly just going swimmingly at this point, aren’t they? The same murderous barbarians we had to drive out twenty years ago are back in charge. Free speech seems like a distant memory and our supposed allies in Pakistan are setting up shop with this crew. Sometimes I really hate it when I’m right.

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