Secretary of State Antony Blinken chided the newly-announced Taliban government over its lack of “inclusivity” and the appointment of people with “challenging track records” during a press conference in Germany on Wednesday.
The Taliban announced the makeup of an interim government for its so-called Islamic emirate on Wednesday. The new interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is on the FBI’s most-wanted list and has led military operations against U.S. and NATO forces. Four former Guantanamo Bay detainees were also appointed to senior positions in the new government.
“With regard to the composition of this government, or interim government, I noted the fact that it certainly does not meet the test of inclusivity and it includes people who have very challenging track records,” Blinken told reporters.
The Secretary insisted that any recognition of the Taliban government would “have to be earned.” Previously, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said the Taliban would need to decide on their “role” in the “international community.”
“The Taliban…has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community,” Psaki told reporters in mid-August. When asked to define the U.S. relationship to the Taliban on August 31, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan cautioned against putting a “label” on it.
“It’s hard to put a label on it in part because we have yet to see what they are going to be now that they are in control, physical control of Afghanistan,” Sullivan said.
At the Wednesday press conference, Blinken also addressed the Taliban’s apparent refusal to allow charter flights with American citizens and green-card holders, as well as Afghan allies of the U.S., to take off from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
“As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the flights to depart. They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation,” Blinken said earlier in the press conference. “While there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground….we are working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground.”
Marina LeGree, executive director of the NGO Ascend, estimated that around 1,200 to 1,300 people were waiting for approval to fly, in comments to National Review on Sunday. LeGree said two U.S. green-card holders are among evacuees affiliated with the NGO, while she knew of at least 19 American citizens among the larger group of passengers.