Taliban spokesman says ‘we were not ready’ for new government
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The Taliban retook Afghanistan following a lightning-fast campaign in mid-August, taking advantage of a vacuum created by withdrawing US and allied troops. Their new administration is the second in 20 years following the western invasion in 2001, and prompted mass evacuations of local Afghans fearing reprisals for their part in the occupation. The decades-long Taliban retreat didn’t leave them dismantled for long, as the group has transplanted its power structure onto its vision for Afghan society.
The man delivering this vision is long-time Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, who now serves as Prime Minister.
He replaces President Ashraf Ghani, who fled Afghanistan as the group feared down on Kabul.
Akhund heads a “caretaker” government that will oversee millions of people.
Many of them may not know who he is, given he didn’t rely on their democratic support to get into office, and Express.co.uk has compiled facts about him everyone should know.
He helped found the Taliban
Akhund hails from Afghanistan’s Kandahar region to the country’s southeast.
The Taliban sprung from this spot in 1994 and went on to take power two years later.
Reports suggest he has played more of a religious than military role, however.
He is on the United Nations sanction list
Akhund currently features on the United Nations (UN) sanctions list.
His place on the list comes from his association with the Taliban’s previous regime.
The UN also called him “one of the most effective Taliban commanders as at early 2010”.
He once served as a deputy foreign minister, and the UN Security Council added him due to his links to the group’s “acts and activities”.
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He heads the Rehbari Shura
Akhund does not lead the Taliban’s whole organisational structure, just its political wing.
The Rehbari Shura is a decision-making body that runs the group’s affairs under the direction of a cabinet.
Their decisions travel up the chain to the Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, for approval.
He is one figure in the Taliban’s cabinet
The Taliban caretaker government consists of several members, each holding a cabinet position.
Akhund has a deputy in Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban co-founder and Doha political office leader.
Baradar fled to Pakistan after the 2001 invasion and returned from prison in 2018 when Donald Trump’s Afghanistan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad requested he lead peace negotiations.
The remaining cabinet members include:
Sirajuddin Haqqani: Acting interior minister
Mohammad Yaqoob: Acting defence minister
Amir Khan Muttaqi: Acting foreign minister
Abas Stanikzai: Acting deputy foreign minister
What does the new Afghan government mean for the UK?
Western nations have proven reluctant to accept the Taliban’s regime, unsurprising given their humiliating defeat at its hands.
The group ousted the government and now threatens to end progress made on women’s rights.
But the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have started softening their rhetoric towards the new regime.
Boris Johnson has urged allies to exert “maximum pressure” on moderate Taliban members.
Doing so, he said, would allow the west to prevent the “more retrograde elements” to “have the upper hand”.
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