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Taliban spox says new government to be launched ‘in a matter of a few days’

Afghan women approach posters of Taliban leaders and flags in capital Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 25, 2021. (Photo by AP)

The Taliban say they will form their government in Afghanistan “in a matter of a few days,” more than two weeks after the militant group took over almost all the war-ravaged country.

The Taliban captured capital Kabul and ousted the government of runaway president Ashraf Ghani on August 15, after firming up their grip on almost the entire country through rapid advances that faced no or little resistance from government troops.

The militant group intensified its offensive and rapidly overran major Afghan cities after US-led foreign forces began what has been criticized as a hasty and ill-planned withdrawal.

The militants’ capture of Kabul brought a chaotic end to two decades of foreign military intervention in the impoverished country.

On Thursday, Ahmadullah Muttaqi, the chief of the multimedia branch of the Taliban's cultural commission, said on social media that a ceremony was in the works at the presidential palace in Kabul on the occasion of forming a new government based on their ideology.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a new government was a “matter of a few days” away.

Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader, had earlier said that the formation of a new government was in its final stages, adding, “We have covered about 90 to 95 percent and we will announce the final outcome in the following few days.”

It is speculated that Taliban supreme commander, Haibatullah Akhundzada, will be the top leader of any new governing council.

Days after their takeover, the Taliban have yet to form a government and no sovereign state has recognized them yet. This has prevented the resumption of international aid to Afghanistan, which could be gripped by a food crisis within a month, according to the United Nations.

The legitimacy of the expected government is crucially important for Afghanistan’s economy in the eyes of international donors and investors, as the country is currently busy combating a severe drought that has affected large areas of its territory.

The last US military plane departed Hamid Karzai International Airport close to midnight local time (1930 GMT) on Monday. Celebratory gunfire was heard across the Afghan capital afterward. The Taliban took complete control of the airport in the early hours of Tuesday.

The militant group has promised safe passage out of Afghanistan for any foreigners or Afghans left behind by the huge airlift which ended when American troops pulled out early this week.

However, since Kabul airport is still closed, many desperate people are seeking to flee over land, particularly to Pakistan.

Qatar working with Taliban to reopen Kabul airport, domestic flights to resume Friday  

On Thursday, Qatar-based al-Jazeera television channel reported that domestic flights from Kabul international airport would resume on Friday.

The report cited an Afghan civil aviation official who expected international flights “to take time.”

Earlier, al-Jazeera reported that a Qatari technical team was evaluating damage at Hamid Karzai International Airport with plans to bring it back into operation “soon.”

British FM in Qatar cites need to engage with Taliban

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was speaking alongside his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during a joint press conference in Doha on Thursday, said there was a need to engage with the Taliban. 

However, London did not have immediate plans to recognize a Taliban government, he added.

"Our commitment on the part of the United Kingdom to Afghanistan remains. We need to adjust to the new reality," Raab noted.

“Our immediate priority is to secure the safe passage of those remaining British nationals, and also the Afghans who worked for the United Kingdom, and others who may be at the most risk,” the British foreign minister further said.

Rabb added that he would be talking to regional leaders about securing safe passage out of Afghanistan through third countries.

The United Kingdom has moved its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan from Kabul to Doha.

Al-Thani, for his part, said that Doha was talking with the Taliban and Turkish leaders about potential technical support in an attempt to restart operations at the airport, which would facilitate humanitarian assistance and possibly evacuate more people.

"We are engaging with them (Taliban), engaging also with Turkey if they can provide any technical assistance on that front. Hopefully in the next few days there will be some good news,” he said.

“There is no clear indication when (the airport) is going to be fully operational yet...We remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible,” the Qatari foreign minister added.

The Taliban are poised to run Afghanistan 20 years after they were removed from power by American forces following their 2001 invasion of the country.


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