The Biden administration and European leaders reacted with “concern” to Tuesday’s announcement of a Taliban government filled with mullahs and terrorists, but none of them seemed to rule out working with – or perhaps even formally recognizing – a regime whose interior minister is wanted by the FBI.
In a statement given to the Hill on Tuesday, the Biden State Department was comically worried the all-male, all-Taliban “caretaker” government of Afghanistan is not diverse enough:
A State Department spokesperson said in a statement shared with The Hill that although the Taliban “has presented this as a caretaker cabinet,” the U.S. “will judge the Taliban by its actions, not words.”
“We have made clear our expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government,” the spokesperson added.
The statement went on to note that the list of names announced by the Taliban earlier Tuesday “consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women.”
The State Department muttered some concerns about the “affiliations and track records of some of the individuals,” but did not rule out working with the Taliban regime even though it includes several members of the Haqqani Network, a designated terrorist organization.
One of those newly-anointed regime officials is Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network and son of its founder, who happens to have a $10 million bounty for information leading to his capture from the U.S. State Department. Sirajuddin is wanted by the FBI in connection with a 2008 terror attack in Kabul that killed an American citizen.
Hey @FBI– I found him.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of a U.S.-designated terrorist group, is now the acting interior minster of Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/ZdaK4tfjBg
— Rep. Doug Lamborn (@RepDLamborn) September 7, 2021
The European Union also fretted about the lack of inclusivity and representation in the Taliban government, chiding the violent Islamist fanatics for failing to live up to the diversity promises they made when they were marching on Kabul:
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) September 8, 2021
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said barely three weeks ago that no civilized nation should recognize a Taliban government, was reduced on Wednesday to echoing the Biden administration’s complaint that the Taliban cabinet is not diverse enough.
“We will continue to judge the Taliban on their actions,” a spokesman for Johnson said. “We would want to see, in any situation, a diverse group in leadership which seeks to address the pledges that the Taliban themselves have set out and that’s not what we have seen.”
“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,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas grumbled Wednesday.
Maas said his government would nevertheless continue to work with the Taliban regime, to address humanitarian concerns and continue helping those who wish to flee the country. He held out hope the Taliban could win further diplomatic and economic commitments from Germany if it behaves well.
“The people of Afghanistan are not to blame for the Taliban coming to power. And they do not deserve to have the international community turn away now,” Maas said.
“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,” he warned.
The German foreign minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Ramstein Air Base on Wednesday, a U.S. facility currently hosting over 11,000 Afghan refugees.
Maas said he and Blinken would host a virtual meeting with colleagues from over 20 nations to formulate a “joint approach toward the Taliban” that will support Western interests, including “adherence to fundamental human rights, maintaining possibilities to leave, and humanitarian access, and the fight against terror groups.”
Maas’ comments highlight the dilemma facing Western leaders: the Taliban has not only Americans and Europeans stranded by President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal as hostages, but the entire population of Afghanistan as well. Western governments and international agencies will inexorably be drawn toward recognizing the Taliban regime and lifting sanctions against it, protesting to the media every step of the way, because otherwise a humanitarian catastrophe will ensue.
The United Nations on Wednesday made an emergency appeal for $606 million in additional funds for the benefit of the Afghan people, on top of $1.3 billion requested before the Taliban takeover, to stave off “drought, displacement, chronic poverty, and the sharp increase in hostilities as the Taliban swept to power,” as the Associated Press put it.
This is a remarkably large request for funds that will be nearly impossible to keep from the clutches of a regime whose top officials are almost entirely under sanctions from the U.N., and even if the money and aid supplies are not seized by Taliban thugs, the net effect of massive international humanitarian relief will be relieving the Taliban of all responsibility for the welfare of their captive population.
The new “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” can focus on military spending, exporting radical ideology, supporting terrorism, and other dangerous elements of its core agenda while the Western nations it despises spend their taxpayers’ money on food and medicine for the Afghan people.
The Taliban’s business partners in China saluted the new Taliban regime, blandly hoped it would “listen broadly to people of all races and factions,” and insisted America and Europe are permanently on the hook for the welfare of the Afghan people.
“China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said the United States and its allies have more of a duty to supply economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan than any other country, according to a statement from the foreign ministry,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
Wang added that America and Europe “should help Afghanistan’s positive development while respecting its sovereignty and independence.”
China will meanwhile be busy reaping huge profits from Afghanistan’s mineral resources. The regime in Beijing is bitterly opposed to the Western use of international sanctions to compel respect for human rights from authoritarian states, and can be expected to help the Taliban undermine any such international pressure.