Reports that the Taliban was all set to embark on a provocative gesture seen as poking America in the eye were contested by a spokesman for the terrorist outfit who called it rumors, even as the US prepared to mourn the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on 9/11 by terrorists who found safe haven in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.
Afghanistan crisis: Live updates
The idea that the same Taliban is back in power in Kabul is grating for many Americans, who see unrepentant terrorists impose the same brand of fundamentalist Islam as they did in the 1990s.
“The humiliation of having the Taliban inaugurate a government on 9/11, twenty years later to the day, full of the FBI’s most wanted list is hard to overestimate,” tweeted Bruno Macaes, author of Geopolitics for the End Time, shortly before it was announced that there wouldn’t be any inauguration on 9/11.
Taliban principals are still reported to be squabbling for the spoils of war despite naming caretaker administrators some of whom are proscribed terrorists.
US President Joe Biden also reached out to China to discuss bilateral issues, including differences that he acknowledged candidly. Although a readout of the phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday did not specifically mention Afghanistan or the Taliban, who’ve openly embraced China (which has reciprocated), a White House statement said the outreach “was part of the United States’ ongoing effort to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the PRC.”
“President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world and the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” the statement added. China has moved swiftly into the strategic space in Afghanistan ceded by the US.
Amid growing disquiet and unease in US geopolitical circles about the return of terrorists to power in Kabul, the Biden administration is for now looking at the issue in the short-term, acknowledging Taliban help in getting stranded US nationals out of Afghanistan.
“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from [Hamid Karzai International Airport]. They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said.
The US President is expected to visit the 9/11 Memorial in NYC on 20th anniversary amid continuing disquiet among critics of he administration who think he ceded ground to the Taliban all too easily. “Stay Away Taliban Joe!” read one meme critiquing Biden’s handling of the situation.
Washington and its allies still appears to think they will be able to persuade Taliban to moderate its stance with economic levels at their disposal.
“You have heard us say that the lack of inclusivity, the track records, the backgrounds of some of the individuals involved, are a cause for concern. It certainly does not reflect what the international community and what, as a part of that, the United States hoped to see,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at the daily briefing.
“We note this is an initial caretaker government. We note that some of these positions remain unfulfilled. So what will be important to us is not only the composition of any future government of Afghanistan…again, we will look to see to it that it is inclusive, to see to it that it is representative of the people that the Taliban purport to represent,” he added.
But the Taliban has swatted away criticism on this front, essentially saying the US should mind its own business, particularly when it comes to its treatment of women.
After excluding women from a list of caretaker ministers announced earlier this week, a Taliban spokesman said women should stick to birthing children.
“It is not necessary for a woman to be in the cabinet. A woman can’t be a minister… it is like you put something on her neck that she can’t carry. They should give birth and raise children according to Islamic ethics. Women protesters cannot represent all women in Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Sayed Zekrullah Hashimi was reported telling TOLO News.