Who are the men leading the Taliban’s new government?

Several senior figures in the Taliban’s new government in Afghanistan have close ties to Taliban founder Mullah Omar.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was named as acting deputy prime minister [Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters]
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was named as acting deputy prime minister [Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters]
(Al Jazeera)

The Taliban has announced key posts for their new government in Afghanistan, weeks after the group seized control of the country.

Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, who is on a UN sanctions list, was named as leader of the new government, while Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar was named as his deputy at a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday.

The Taliban’s inner workings and leadership have long been shrouded in secrecy – even when they previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Several cabinet posts are yet to be announced. Here is a rundown of several key senior officials announced on Tuesday:

Mohammad Hasan Akhund, acting prime minister

Mullah Mohammed Hasan Akhund is a Taliban veteran who was a close associate and political adviser to Mullah Omar, the founder of the movement and its first supreme leader.

A member of the group’s Supreme Council, he served as deputy foreign minister in their previous regime, and was placed on a UN Security Council sanctions list connected to the “acts and activities” of the Taliban.

From Kandahar, he previously served as the Taliban governor of the key province. He also served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister during the Taliban’s first stint in power in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The United Nations said he had a reputation of having been “one of the most effective Taliban commanders”.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, acting deputy prime minister

Abdul Ghani Baradar, named as deputy to Hasan, was raised in Kandahar.

Like most Afghans, Baradar’s life was forever changed by the Soviet invasion of the country in the late 1970s, transforming him into a fighter.

He was believed to have fought side-by-side with Mullah Omar.

The two would go on to found the Taliban movement in the early 1990s during the chaos and corruption of the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal.

After the Taliban government was toppled in 2001 by US-led forces, Baradar is believed to have been among a small group of Taliban members who approached interim leader Hamid Karzai with a potential deal that would have seen the group recognise the new administration.

Arrested in Pakistan in 2010, Baradar was kept in custody until pressure from the United States saw him freed in 2018 and relocated to Qatar.

There he was appointed head of the Taliban’s political office and oversaw the signing of the troop withdrawal agreement with the US.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, acting interior minister

The son of a famed commander from the war against the Soviets, Sirajuddin Haqqani has doubled as the deputy leader of the Taliban and head of the powerful Haqqani network.

He will be interior minister in the new regime. The Haqqani network is a US-designated “terror group” long viewed as one of the most dangerous armed groups in Afghanistan.

It is infamous for its use of suicide bombers and is believed to have orchestrated some of the most high-profile attacks in Kabul over the years.

The network is also accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Western citizens for ransom – including US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, released in 2014.

Known for their independence, fighting acumen, and savvy business dealings, the Haqqanis are mainly based in eastern Afghanistan and hold considerable sway over the Taliban’s leadership council.

Mullah Yaqoob, acting defence minister 

The son of Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoob heads the group’s powerful military commission, which oversaw the vast network of field commanders charged with executing the rebellion.

On Tuesday, he was named as defence minister. Yaqoob’s father enjoyed cult-like status as the Taliban leader, and that potent lineage makes him a unifying figure in the movement.

Mawlawi Amir Khan Mutaqi, acting foreign minister

Originally from Paktia province, Mutaqi calls himself a resident of Helmand.

Mutaqi served as minister of culture and information during the previous Taliban government, as well as minister of education. Mutaqi was later sent to Qatar and was appointed a member of the peace commission and negotiation team that held talks with the United States.

Neither military commander nor religious leader, according to Taliban sources, Mutaqi is the chair of the Invitation and Guidance Commission, which during the insurgency had led efforts to get government officials and other key figures to defect.

In statements and speeches while fighting raged for control of the country, he projected a moderate voice, calling on forces holed up in provincial capitals to talk to the group to avoid fighting in urban areas.

In the weeks after the fall of Kabul, Mutaqi played a similar role with the lone holdout province of Panjshir, calling for a peaceful settlement to hostilities.

Source: News Agencies

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