Who Are The Taliban's New Cabinet Leaders?
|Taliban announces new Afghanistan govt
The Taliban announced their first government after taking control of Afghanistan last month.
The Taliban has appointed Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as the ‘acting’ Prime Minister in the new Afghan government, with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Abdus Salam being his deputies.
The list of Taliban cabinet members announced by chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday was dominated by members of the group’s old guard, with no women included.
The Taliban’s New Cabinet Leaders
Here is the list of ministers in the Taliban government:
Hasan Akhund as the ‘acting’ PM in the new Afghan government.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Abdus Salam will be his deputies.
Amir Khan Muttaqi will be the Foreign Minister.
Abas Stanikzai will be the acting deputy Foreign Minister.
Mullah Yaqoob will be the Defense Minister.
Sarajuddin Haqqani will be the Interior Minister.
Amir Khan Muttaqi will be the Foreign Minister.
Acting Minister of Economy: Qari Din Hanif
Acting Minister for Hajj amd Religious Affairs: Mawlawi Noor Mohammad Saqib
Acting Minister of Justice: Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Sharie
Acting Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs: Mullah Noorullah Noori
Acting Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development: Mullah Mohammad Younus Akhundzada
Acting Minister of Public Work: Mullah Abdul Manan Omari
Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum: Mullah Mohammad Esa Akhund
Acting Minister of Water and Energy: Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor
Acting Minister of Civil Aviation and Transport: Mullah Hamidullah Akhundzada
Acting Minister of Higher Education: Abdul Baqi Haqqani
Acting Minister of Telecommunication: Najibullah Haqqani
Acting Minister of Refugees: Khalilurahman Haqqani
Acting Director of Intelligence: Abdul Haq Wasiq
Acting Director of the Central Bank: Haji Mohammad Idris
Acting Director of the Administrative Office of the President: Ahmad Jan Ahmady
Who is HIBATULLAH AKHUNDZADA: Supreme Commander
The supreme leader, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada, himself proposed Mullah Hasan’s name to head the government, adding that the issues within ranks of the Taliban regarding the formation of the government have been resolved.
However, it is not clear what role in the government would be played by Akhundzada. He has not been seen or heard in public since the collapse of the Western-backed government and the seizure of Kabul by the Taliban last month.
Akhundzada became Supreme Commander of the Taliban in May 2016, after a drone strike killed his predecessor Akhtar Mansour. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri proffered his support when Akhundzada ascended to the role, hailing him as an “emir of the believers”.
Believed to have been born in 1961 in Kandahar, the Taliban’s rural southern heartland, Akhundzada took up arms in the mujahedeen’s resistance to the Soviet Union’s brutal 1979-89 campaign to prop up their puppet communist government.
After the USSR left in humiliation and Afghanistan spiralled into civil war, Akhundzada was an early member of the Taliban when it emerged as a hardline Islamist militia in the south in 1994.
He was then head of the sharia courts that imposed a cruel, fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law on the Afghan people during the Taliban’s first spell in power from 1996 to 2001.
Afghanistan analysts see Akhundzada as a primarily religious leader – although as supreme commander he has the final say over political and military affairs.
Akundzada’s history as the Taliban’s top sharia judge makes him an apt leader for the system, based on the sharia law they are inaugurating in Afghanistan.
|Who Are The Taliban's New Cabinet Leaders?
Who is Mohammed Hassan Akhund – Acting Prime Minster
Mohammad Hassan Akhund was announced as leader of the Taliban’s new government.
Mullah Hasan is presently head of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body—Rehbari Shura or leadership council— which serves much like a government Cabinet running all the group’s affairs subject to the approval of the top leader.
Mullah Hasan belongs to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and was among the founders of the armed movement. He worked for 20 years as head of Rehbari Shura and remained close to Mullah Hebatullah. He had served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister during the Taliban’s previous government in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Who is Abdul Ghani Baradar – Deputy Prime Minister
Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be one of two deputy prime ministers. The second deputy will be Abdul Salam Hanafi.
One of the founding members of the Taliban in 1994, Baradar is seen as de facto leader of the group despite serving under supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.
He had led the Taliban’s political negotiation team in Qatar since 2019 after being released from jail in Pakistan. In March 2020, he became the first Taliban leader to directly speak with a US president, when he had a phone call with Donald Trump.
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Who is Sirajuddin Haqqani – Interior Minister
Haqqani – believed to be in his mid-40s – is the leader of the jihadist group that bears his family name.
The Haqqani network was founded by Sirajuddin’s father Jalaluddin in the 1980s and dates back to the war against the USSR. They gave their allegiance to the Taliban in 1995 and became increasingly integrated into the Taliban’s war against the US and its allies from 2001 – during which they resumed the asymmetric guerrilla strategy they adopted against the Soviets, allegedly from a base in North Waziristan across the Pakistani border.
The Haqqani network also manages the Taliban’s military assets in their bases along the border with Pakistan.
Sirajuddin became the head of the Haqqani network after Jalaluddin's death in 2018. He is on the FBI’s list of most wanted suspects, which describes him as “armed and dangerous”.
The jihadist group has been blamed for an array of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan – including the deadly 2008 Serena Hotel attack in Kabul, for which Sirajuddin Haqqani admitted responsibility.
He wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in February 2020, soon before the signing of the Doha Agreement, trying to present a softer side to the Taliban. Haqqani started by saying that he was “convinced that the killing and maiming must stop”. Critics mocked the article, arguing that it was disingenuous.
Who is Mohammad Yaqoob – Defence Minister
Yaqoob is Mohammad Omar’s son and the head of the Taliban’s military activities.
As his father remains a talismanic figure for the Islamist group, Yaqoob was considered as a possible supreme commander after Mansour was killed in 2016. But – now believed to be in his early 30s – he was rejected as too inexperienced.
Some analysts see it as a sign of the Taliban command’s high regard for Yaqoob that he was chosen to step in as Akhundzada’s temporary replacement when the supreme commander contracted Covid-19 in May 2020, according to a senior Taliban figure speaking to Foreign Policy.
But other observers consider that this overplays Yaqoob’s role – and that his tenure as the Taliban’s acting supreme leader was purely symbolic, motivated by his being Mohammad Omar’s son.
Who is Amir Khan Muttaqi – Foreign Minister
A member of the Taliban political office in Doha that helped negotiate the US withdrawal agreement with the government of Donald Trump.
Who is Abdul Hakim – Justice Minister
A hardline cleric, he recently ran a religious school and led the Taliban’s judicial system and oversaw the group’s clerics.
Who is Hedayatullah Badri – Finance Minister Din Mohammad – Economy Minister
A Taliban official and member of the negotiating team in Qatar. He is the former minister of planning and higher education.
Mohammed Idris was appointed head of the central bank.
Who is Khairullah Khairkhwa – Information and Culture Minister
A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner considered among the most hardline by US security officials, he was released by former president Barack Obama in 2014 in exchange for US army soldier Sgt Bowe Bergdahl. His deputy will be Zabihullah Mujahid, who is known for using Twitter to share statements.
Who is Abdul Haq Wasiq – Head of National Directorate of Security
Also a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released in exchange for Sgt Bergdahl, he was previously the deputy minister of intelligence for the Taliban. He also took part in political negotiations with the US in Doha.
Who is Qari Fasihuddin – Army head
A Tajik fighter who rose within the Taliban ranks, he was previously a shadow governor for the group in Badakshan province. He led the Taliban’s takeover of the north of the country, one of the most significant developments in the group’s return to power.
“The Cabinet is not complete; it is just acting,” Mujahid said at the Government Information and Media Centre in Kabul.
“We will try to take people from other parts of the country.”
|In response to the Taliban announcement, the United States said it was concerned about the “affiliations and track records” of some of the people named to government.
“We also reiterate our clear expectation that the Taliban ensure that Afghan soil is not used to threaten any other countries and allow humanitarian access in support of the Afghan people,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement.
United Nations spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York that only a “negotiated and inclusive settlement will bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan”.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would closely follow the new government’s future course. saying he did not know how long the new government’s current makeup would last.
“As you know just now, it’s hard to call it permanent, but an interim cabinet has been announced,” Erdogan told reporters during a joint media appearance with visiting DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.
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