On Tuesday, the Biden State Department expressed “concerns” over the make up of the new Taliban-led Afghan government.
In perhaps a stunning display of naïveté, State Department officials seemed shocked when describing the interim government as including no women: “We have made clear our expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government,” a spokesperson added.
Almost as an afterthought to the concerns about an “inclusive” government, The Hill notes that Biden’s State Department is also worried that some of the new Afghan government officials might be bad guys.
The Hill reports that they are “concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of the individuals.”
After the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban last month, leaders called on specifically women to join the government, in what appears to be an attempt by the Taliban to portray themselves as more permissive than the Taliban of 20 years ago.
A kinder, gentler Taliban from the old Taliban, who would not permit women or girls to work, go to school, or leave their homes without a male escort.
But while the Taliban may be trying to show to the world a more passive form of its former self when it comes to the rights of women, some of the leaders who make up the new government are familiar names to those fighting the war on terror.
Those affiliations the State Department is worried about includes individuals on the FBI’s Wanted list.
The Taliban leadership announced on Tuesday includes the new Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan, deputy minister in the first Taliban government from 1996 to 2001, will be the acting prime minister of the new government.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who negotiated with the U.S. as a member of the former Afghan government has been named deputy prime minister. But the most well known name on the list of new leaders is Sirajuddin Haqqani.
Haqqani is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, and is the leader of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban splinter group that U.S. intelligence officials call “the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group,” and the State Department has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization since 2012.
The U.S. State Department seems to be the only ones shocked that the new interim Taliban Government does not include any women. While the Taliban says it will respect the rights of women, there is always the caveat, “within the bounds of Sharia law.”
Veteran war correspondent and reporter Lara Logan says that the Taliban will put a small number of women in prominent roles such as doctors and perhaps a few in government, but Taliban ideology prevents much change from happening.
On Wednesday, a group of women protested the exclusion of women in the government in Kabul. There were protests over the weekend and last week three small protests took place across the country.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the U.S. is not rushing to recognize the government. Recognition is “dependent on what steps the Taliban takes.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken held out the possibility that the U.S. might recognize a government that “uphold[s] the basic rights of its people, including women and girls,” and “doesn’t harbor terrorists.”
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