West criticises Taliban's picks for government

New administration in Kabul includes no women or minorities

The US, EU and Germany joined criticism of the Taliban after it announced a new government featuring men wanted internationally for war crimes but no women or ethnic minorities.

On Tuesday, the hardline group in Afghanistan unveiled its caretaker administration, which consists entirely of Taliban members.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the interim government lacked inclusivity and featured people with “challenging track records”.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting interior minister, is wanted by the FBI. The US State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information that leads to his arrest.

“The announcement of a transitional government without the participation of other groups and yesterday's violence against demonstrators and journalists in Kabul are not signals that give cause for optimism,” said Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister.

He said “a transitional government that does not include other groups is not the signal for more international co-operation and stability in the country".

Mr Maas and Mr Blinken hosted talks with foreign ministers from 20 countries, as well as Nato and the EU, on Wednesday, after the Taliban’s rapid capture of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals last month and the withdrawal of Nato forces after two decades.

The international community has urged the Taliban to form an inclusive government, as it grapples with how to deal with the group after its takeover of the country.

Mr Blinken, speaking from the US's Ramstein Air Base in Germany, called on the Taliban to allow charter flights carrying Americans and at-risk Afghans to depart from Afghanistan.

The US government has been accused of not doing enough to facilitate evacuations, with planes chartered to carry people out of the country becoming stuck at Mazar-i-Sharif.

“Let me be very clear - those flights need to be able to leave,” Mr Blinken said.

“We are working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground.”

He said the Taliban were preventing flights from leaving because some passengers lack travel documents.

“They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation. Well, there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground, without an airport with normal security procedures in place,” Mr Blinken said.

Mr Maas said Germany was prepared to keep its dialogue channels open with the Taliban in an effort to ensure more people are able to leave the country.

“The people in Afghanistan are not to blame for the Taliban seizing power — and they do not deserve to be abandoned now by the international community.

“We are prepared to provide humanitarian assistance via the United Nations, and we will continue to talk to the Taliban, not least in order to ensure that people for whom we are responsible can leave the country,” Mr Maas said.

He highlighted concerns about food shortages in many parts of the country because of drought, and the stopping of international aid payments.

“And if a new government is not able to keep the affairs of state running, there is a threat of economic collapse after the political one - with even more drastic humanitarian consequences,” warned Mr Maas.

An EU spokesman also criticised the caretaker government.

“It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks,” said Peter Stano, foreign affairs spokesman for the EU.

“Such inclusivity and representation is expected in the composition of a future transitional government, and as result of negotiations,” he said.

Updated: September 8th 2021, 5:56 PM
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