The United States has called for an inclusive new government in Afghanistan that respects human rights, including women’s rights, saying that the Taliban’s behaviour will determine whether Washington will recognise any new administration in Kabul.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday that the US and its international allies would be “watching closely” after the Taliban took over the country in a blistering offensive, seizing control of the capital on Sunday.
“A future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people, that doesn’t harbour terrorists, and that protects the basic rights of its people, including the basic, fundamental rights of half of its population – its women and girls – that is a government that we would be able to work with,” Price said during a news briefing.
“The converse is also true – that we are not going to support a government that does not do that.”
Price said there is “decisive consensus” in the international community on the kind of new government that should be formed in Afghanistan, citing a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) statement on Monday that called for an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of national reconciliation”.
UNSC member states stressed that an end to the conflict “can only be achieved through an inclusive, just, durable and realistic political settlement that upholds human rights, including for women, children and minorities”, the statement said.
“The members of the Security Council called on parties to adhere to international norms and standards on human rights and put an end to all abuses and violations in this regard.”
The Taliban took over Kabul after capturing key cities across Afghanistan in a swift offensive amid the withdrawal of US troops from the country – a process that US President Joe Biden had promised would be completed by the end of August.
President Ashraf Ghani fled the capital on Sunday, making the Taliban the de-facto authority on the ground, but there has been no formal announcement of a new government.
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, DC, said it was worth pointing out that the US special envoy to Afghanistan was in the Qatari capital, Doha, working to reach a political settlement.
“This is a situation that is changing very quickly and it’s really hard to say from one day to the next who actually is in charge,” she said.
During the State Department briefing, Price said the US would use its diplomatic and economic leverage to ensure that the government in Kabul respects human rights.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has been issuing assurances about protecting Afghans’ rights and denying reports of abuses against women.
Price said Washington wants to see action that matches any promises made by the group.
“If the Taliban or any government that is to emerge seeks to have the level of international assistance that was needed to sustain the Afghan government of the past 20 years, the words on the paper that emanated from New York today from the Security Council will have to mean something,” he said.
“Their actions will have to match some of the words that we have seen emanate from the Taliban.”
Price also threatened repercussions against a government that violates human rights, particularly the rights of women.
“If you talk about carrots, you can also talk about sticks, and the United States, the UN, the international community has the ability to impose fairly dramatic cuts on any regime that were to take shape that does not recognise the basic and fundamental rights of the people of Afghanistan.”