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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Taliban says its purge of officials unrelated to sanctioned ministers 


The Taliban appointed ministers sanctioned by the US in its interim government.

The Taliban has refused calls by the international community to remove ministers from its interim government under US and UN sanction threats, a senior official said according to a Sputnik report.

In comments made to the Russian outlet, Taliban Spokesman Mohammad Naeem confirmed the group is currently moving to dismiss people in the interior and defence ministries who have stained records, though rejected reports that it was purging ministers sanctioned by the US.

The comments came after the Taliban-led Afghan interim government held a meeting on Monday to expel “unwanted persons” from positions in the government. 

Read also: Qatar’s amir attends G20 meeting as EU announces major aid package for Afghanistan

“There are employees in the interior ministry and the defence ministry who stole money from people, committed crimes, and after that said that they belong to the Taliban, they need to be removed from the ranks of these ministries so that they do not cast a shadow on the movement, but this is not about ministers in the government,” he explained on Tuesday.

Last month, the Taliban announced a list of names for its interim government, which included members of its own groups and loyalists from the Haqqani network.

Among the names are Interior Minister Sirrajudin Haqqani and the Acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, both of whom have been declared terrorists by the United States and the United Nations.

Following the formation of the Taliban-led government, the movement accused the US of violating the 2020 Doha Agreement for refusing to remove its government officials from the blacklist.

The US accuses the Haqqani movement of engaging in attacks on US forces in Afghanistan during the two-decade long war.

“Pentagon officials have remarked that some cabinet members of the Islamic Emirate or family members of the late Haqqani Sahib are on the US blacklists and still targets,” said a statement from Afghanistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said at the time.

“The Islamic Emirate considers this a clear violation of the Doha Agreement which is neither in the interest of the United States or Afghanistan,” the statement said, referring to the peace deal signed in Doha, Qatar.

Release of funds

The Taliban’s statements come after American authorities pledged to remove movement members from international sanctions in line with the Doha Agreement.

Taliban’s new minister is part of the Haqqani Network, known to be the most violent group under Taliban.

Earlier, the Taliban spokesperson also said representatives from the US, UK and other western countries have ignored calls by the group to unfreeze assets.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US will make a decision regarding Afghanistan’s financial reserves based on the new government’s actions and not statements.

“When it comes to central bank reserves,… we will judge and interact with any future Afghan government on the basis of its conduct and its conduct in… key areas,” Price said.

After the Taliban-takeover in mid-August, the Biden administration reportedly froze billions of dollars of Afghanistan government reserves in US bank accounts to block the Taliban from accessing funds belonging to the Afghan Central Bank.

Moreover, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund halted financial aid to the new interim government, which accounted for around 75% of the country’s public expenditure. 

Read also: Qatar FM rules out normalisation with Israel as long as occupation continues

Commenting on the funds, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Wednesday said there is still no clear path for unfreezing the assets.

However, a virtual G20 meeting that was attended by Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Tuesday saw the European Union pledge a major aid package designed “to avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse”.

Qatar has been playing a pivotal mediating and humanitarian role in Afghanistan.

In his statement, the Qatari leader echoed his country’s keenness “on ensuring the brotherly Afghan people to live under peace and stability”.

Sheikh Tamim also said the international community bears a responsibility to support Afghanistan, calling for dialogue rather than isolation.

As countries continue to isolate Afghanistan due to its new government, Sheikh Tamim said this “has proven that isolation leads to polarisation of positions and sharp reactions” noting a solution through dialogue is essential.

In what also seemed to be a direct message to the new Afghan government, the amir referenced Qatar’s governance, which “takes Islamic Sharia as a source for its legislation, and in it women have held the position of ministers, judges and other public positions”, noting “societies cannot be promoted in Islamic countries with half of the society suspended from work and education.”

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