Taliban Announces Leadership Of New Government, Says It Will ‘Uphold Sharia’

(Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Taliban announced the members of its interim government Tuesday for the newly-formed “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” one week after the U.S. completed its military withdrawal from the country.

The head of the government will be Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who currently leads the militant group’s Leadership Council. Akhund previously served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the Taliban government from 1996 to 2001.

Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhunzada, who has never been seen in public, released a statement promising the government will “work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and sharia law” in Afghanistan. “All will take part in strengthening the system and Afghanistan and in this way, we will rebuild our war-torn country,” he said.

Akhund, who is sanctioned by the United Nations for his previous role in the Taliban government, will be joined in the cabinet by Interior Minister Sarajuddin Haqqani. He is the head of the Haqqani Network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that is part of the Taliban. (RELATED: Blinken Frames Next Steps Following Afghanistan Withdrawal, Declares ‘A New Diplomatic Mission Has Begun’)

Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader was named one of two deputy prime ministers along with Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi. Barader helped co-found the Taliban in the 1980s and was released from Pakistani prison at the request of the U.S. in 2018. He helped lead peace negotiations with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad from Doha, Qatar.

Before the U.S. withdrawal was completed, the Taliban promised that their new government would be inclusive, even going as far as inviting women to join leadership positions. When asked why no women were announced as part of the new cabinet Tuesday, the Taliban Cultural Commission’s Ahmadullah Wasiq said the cabinet had not yet been finalized, according to the BBC.