Afghanistan Live Updates: Taliban Announces Its New Government, Afghan Refugees Welcomed in U.S.

Live Updates

The Taliban announced the acting Cabinet to run its new government, led by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund.

The new interim Cabinet does not appear to include women or non-Taliban members, despite the group's promise to create an "inclusive" government to forge relationships with previous enemies and seek to create "security and prosperity" in Afghanistan.

The new acting interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is wanted by the FBI in connection with a January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, that killed six people, including one American.

Hundreds of people, including many women, took to the streets of Kabul Tuesday to protest the Taliban's rule and Pakistan's alleged involvement, chanting "death to Taliban," "death to Pakistan," "Pakistan, get out from Afghanistan," and simply "freedom."

Taliban forces used gunfire to try to disperse crowds around Pakistan's embassy. Several journalists were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

During a news conference Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called the protests illegal and said demonstrators needed to inform the Taliban of the time, place and aim of any protests.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

KEY MOMENTS

Protests in Kabul
A Taliban fighter stands guard as Afghan women shout slogans during an anti-Pakistan protest rally, near the Pakistan embassy in Kabul on September 7, 2021. The Taliban on September 7, 2021 fired shots into the air to disperse crowds who had gathered for an anti-Pakistan rally in the capital, the latest protest since the hardline Islamist movement swept to power last month. HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images

Top U.S. military official tells troops Afghan evacuation effort was "heroic"

Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told U.S. troops who aided in evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan to "hold your head up high."

"This is not the outcome any of us wanted, but it is the outcome that we have," Milley told troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Tuesday.

"And know that at the tail end here, what you did as individuals and collectively was something enormously heroic and honorable and noble. You can always hold your heads high."

READ MORE: "Top U.S. Military Officer Tells Troops Afghanistan Exit Was Heroic: 'Hold Your Heads High'"

UN humanitarian chief says Taliban will allow aid workers to operate safely in Afghanistan

The Taliban said it will allow aid workers to operate safely and independently to reach the millions of Afghans in need, the United Nations' humanitarian chief said.

During a news conference Tuesday, Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations, said getting safe and dependable access to the Kabul airport and road routes from neighboring countries is a priority.

Over the weekend, Griffiths met with Mullah Adul Ghani Baradatr, a Taliban leader who was just appointed to the Cabinet of the Taliban's interim government.

"In this meeting, Mr. Griffiths reiterated the humanitarian community's commitment to deliver impartial and independent humanitarian assistance and protection to millions of people in need," a U.N. spokesperson said in a statement Sunday.

"He emphasized the critical role of women in the delivery of aid and called on all parties to ensure their rights, safety and well-being. He called for all civilians – especially women and girls and minorities – to be protected at all times."

Griffiths said Taliban leaders seem more willing to engage with the international humanitarian community than they were when he discussed humanitarian work with Islamic militants two decades ago.

However, the coming months will be a challenge as "the people of Afghanistan will be learning to live with their new rulers, and so will we."

I met with the leadership of the Taliban to reaffirm @UN’s commitment to deliver impartial humanitarian assistance & protection to millions in need in #Afghanistan. https://t.co/CK0bO7dKhY pic.twitter.com/akB6MxOarg

— Martin Griffiths (@UNReliefChief) September 5, 2021

Taliban blocks hundreds from boarding flights out of Afghanistan

The Taliban has blocked hundreds of people, including American citizens, from boarding charter flights out of Afghanistan, an Afghan woman working for a U.S. organization told the Associated Press.

The woman is an employee of Ascend, a U.S. organization that has worked for years with Afghan women and girls. She spoke with the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety.

"We think we are in some kind of jail," the woman said, as she and several hundred others with proper documentation have been waiting for more than a week for permission to board flights out of the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied reports that people with propper documentation were being blocked from from evacuating Afghanistan.

Taliban officials promised to let people with proper passports and documentation leave the country, but the woman said that they are being barred from accessing the airport.

"I am scared if they split us up and not let us leave," she said. "If we can't get out of here, something wrong will happen. And I am afraid of that."

READ MORE: "Hundreds, Including Americans, Blocked by Taliban From Leaving Afghanistan"

White House asks Congress for $6.4 billion for Afghan evacuation efforts

The White House is asking Congress for $6.4 billion to efforts to evacuate "tens of thousands" of at-risk Afghans.

According to Shalanda Young, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the funds would cover the global operation that moves evacuees to third-country transit hubs on military and charter flights, houses them at U.S. military bases and screens for COVID-19 before bringing evacuees to the United States.

The majority of the requested funds would go to the Defense and State Departments to support the safe transportation and processing of allies from Afghanistan, Young said.

The funds would also support humanitarian assistance through the State Department and USAID to Afghans in the region and target public health and resettlement efforts to help Afghans sent to the U.S. through the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Taliban's acting interior minister is wanted by FBI

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the recently appointed acting interior minister of the Taliban's government, is wanted for by the FBI.

The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information that leads to his arrest.

According to an FBI poster, Haqqani is wanted for questioning in connection with a January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan that killed six people, including one American.

sirajuddin haqqani taliban afghanistan fbi
Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan's new acting interior minister, is wanted by the FBI for questioning and the State Department is offering up to $5 million for information that leads to his arrest. FBI

The FBI also believes Haqqani "coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against the United States coalition forces in Afghanistan."

"Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008," the poster said.

Haqqani is the leader of the Haqqani network, a designated foreign terrorist organization. This militant group is affiliated with the Taliban and is considered by the U.S. government to be the "most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group."

READ MORE: "Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan Cabinet Member, Wanted by FBI, $10 Million Reward Offered"

Taliban promises to respect treaties, human rights within the framework of Islamic law

In a statement, the Taliban Leadership Office said the Islamic Emirates wants "strong and healthy relations" with neighbors and all other countries "based on mutual respect" and interaction "based on the highest interests and benefits of Afghanistan," BBC's Barbara Plett Usher reported.

"We are committed to all international laws and treaties, resolutions and commitments that are not in conflict with Islamic law and the country's national values," the statement, attributed to Taliban Supreme Leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, said.

The statement said the Islamic Emirate is focused on the "complete security and safety" of all foreign diplomats, embassies, consulates, humanitarian organizations and investors.

"Afghanistan's soil will not be used against the security of any other country," the statement said. "We assure all that there is no concern from Afghanistan and we expect from them the same."

The Taliban said it promises to protect the human rights of minorities and underprivileged groups "within the framework of the demands of the sacred religion of Islam."

The Taliban reiterated that "people should not try to leave the country," assuring Afghans that "the Islamic Emirate has no problem with anyone."

"Our country desperately needs their talents, guidance and work," the statement added. "All will take part in strengthening the system and Afghanistan and in this way, we will rebuild our war-torn country."

Malala Yousafzai spoke with former Afghan president about women's rights under the Taliban

Women's education activist Malala Yousafzai said she spoke with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the protection of Afghan women under Taliban rule.

"We stand together with the women marching in the streets for their right to safety, education and work," she said in a tweet.

This morning I spoke with @KarzaiH and asked for his leadership to ensure the protection of Afghan women’s rights. We stand together with the women marching in the streets for their right to safety, education and work. pic.twitter.com/gyGlREwEHT

— Malala (@Malala) September 7, 2021

U.S. surveillance tools now apparently in the hands of the Taliban

U.S. data surveillance tools are now apparently in the hands of the Taliban, the Associated Press reports.

The United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars towards building data surveillance tools for the Afghan people, but left the databases with few data-protection safeguards.

Since the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, there are indications that the government data may have been used to identify and intimidate Afghans who worked with the U.S.

A 27-year-old U.S. contractor in Kabul told the Associated Press that he and co-workers who developed a U.S. funded database have received phone calls summoning them to the Defense Ministry.

"It is a terrible irony," Frank Pasquale, a Brooklyn Law School scholar of surveillance technologies, said. "It's a real object lesson in 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'"

READ MORE: "Hundreds of Millions in U.S. Data Surveillance Tools, with Few Safeguards, in Taliban Hands"

Taliban announces cabinet members

The Taliban announced a caretaker cabinet that will lead Afghanistan.

"We know the people of our country have been waiting for a new government," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters during a press briefing Tuesday.

According to the BBC, the cabinet includes:

  • First Deputy to the Minister: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
  • Second Deputy to the Minister: Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi
  • Defense Minister: Mullah Muhammad Yaqoub
  • Interior Minister: Sirajuddin Haqqani
  • Foreign Minister: Amir Khan Muttaqi

There is no evidence of women or non-Taliban members of government,despite the Taliban's promise to create an "inclusive" government.

Mujahid said these appointees were only an interim government, but did not share how long they would serve.

Taliban names its new leader

Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund will lead the new Taliban government in Afghanistan.

At a press conference today, the Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid says Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund will lead the new caretaker government #Afghanistan

— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) September 7, 2021

International aid organizations fear Afghan healthcare system will soon collapse

International aid organizations are worried about the "impending humanitarian crisis" in Afghanistan.

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) said the country's vulnerable healthcare system was facing a "potential collapse," Al Jazeera reported.

An MSF medic said in an article published on the organization's website that the clinic in Herat was "still well over capacity" before the Taliban took over and now that the fighting continues, the number of malnourished children admitted to the clinic is "increasing day by day."

#Afghanistan | An @MSF medic in Herat describes the reality of working in the city since the Taliban took control and almost all other organisations suspended operations. https://t.co/QTIzKHx1Lg

— MSF International (@MSF) September 7, 2021

The MSF worries that other health facilities won't be able to continue operations once funding from the World Bank ends.

"Some staff working for other organizations haven't received salaries for months, this has happened before but then people had hope they would be paid eventually," the medic said. "Now, with so much uncertainty, people tell me they have no hope and many are looking for another job."

The United Nations appealed for almost $200 million in extra funding for aid in Afghanistan after aid workers left the country and funding was cut, according to Al Jazeera.

"Basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other lifesaving aid is about to run out," U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spokesperson Jens Laerke said during a briefing in Geneva Monday.

"We urge international donors to support this appeal fast and generously," he added.

Journalist details arrest by the Taliban for covering a protest in Kabul

The Taliban arrested several journalists after it dispersed a rally in Kabul with gunfire Tuesday, according to witnesses and local media reports.

The demonstrators outside the Pakistan Embassy denounced Pakistan's alleged support for the latest Taliban offensive that routed anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir province, The Associated Press reported.

An Afghan journalist told the AP that he was arrested and later freed by the Taliban.

They made me rub my nose on the ground and apologize for covering the protest," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Journalism in Afghanistan is getting harder," he added.

Blinken shares images from meetings in Qatar

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared images from his visit with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Qatar counterparts.

Blinken said the leaders discussed Afghanistan and "initiatives to promote regional security."

.@SecDef and I met today with our Qatari counterparts, @kbmalattiya and @MBA_AlThani_, to commend Qatar for its leadership facilitating the safe transit of evacuees from Afghanistan. We discussed our important work on Afghanistan and initiatives to promote regional security. pic.twitter.com/jxfDHIYfFa

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 7, 2021

Blinken denies "hostage-like" situation at Afghan airport

Despite reports that 1,000 people, including American citizens, were stuck at Mazar-i-Sharif airport waiting days for clearance for their flight to leave, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. identified a "relatively" small number of Americans seeking to depart from the northern Afghan city.

Blinken said the United States believes there are "somewhere around 100" American citizens still in Afghanistan who want to leave.

He said charter flights were not allowed to leave because some people lacked valid travel documents.

"It's my understanding is that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said those without valid documents, at this point, can't leave," Blinken said. "Because all of these people are grouped together, that's meant that flights have not been allowed to go."

Blinken said the U.S. was not aware of any "hostage-like situation" at Mazar-i-Sharif. He said the Taliban promised to let people with valid travel documents leave freely.

"We will hold them to that," he said. "The international community is watching to see if the Taliban will live up to their commitments."

Blinken added that the State Department is working with the Taliban to facilitate more charter flights to evacuate people who want to leave Afghanistan.

Blinken thanks Qatar for its "compassion and generosity" during Afghan evcuations

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Qatar for its support during evacuation operations out of Afghanistan in a news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Qatar officials in Doha.

"Many countries have stepped up to help the evacuation and relocation efforts in Afghanistan but no country has done more than Qatar," Blinken said.

Blinken said that more than 58,000 Americans, Afghans and citizens of allied nations came through Doha during evacuation efforts.

"Qatar was the first stop on a journey to a more peaceful and hopeful future for so many people," he said, "Qatar welcomed them with compassion and generosity."

He added that Qatar provided medical support for evacuees, served 10,000 meals three times a day, worked with NGOs providing support on the ground and provided Qatar Air flights to carry people out of Afghanistan.

Blinken Speaks with Qatar Leaders
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C-R) and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) hold a joint press conference with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah (C-L) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Doha, on September 7, 2021. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Taliban had reiterated a pledge to allow Afghans to freely depart Afghanistan following his meeting with Qatari officials on accelerating evacuations. OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Top UN official criticizes Taliban fighters for alleged violence against protesters

Clement Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly, has warned against "violence to curb ongoing protests" in Kabul against Pakistan.

#Afganisthan - I am receiving worrying reports of #Taliban using violence to curb ongoing protests by men and women demanding freedoms and respect of human rights. This is unacceptable. Freedom of peaceful assembly is a basic right and must be respected by Taliban.

— UN Special Rapporteur Freedom of Association (@cvoule) September 7, 2021

U.S. 'in regular touch' with Pakistan amid protests in Kabul over Panjshir valley attacks

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that Pakistan "has frequently and publicly advocated for an inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan", adding that it looks to the country "to play a critical role in enabling that outcome."

The entire international community has a stake in ensuring the Taliban live up to their public commitments and obligations. It's critical that the members of the international community with the most influence in Afghanistan use all the means at their disposal to ensure that Afghanistan lives up to its obligations under the UN Charter.

Hundreds of protesters in Afghanistan's capital are accusing Pakistan of unduly interfering in the recent battle between the Taliban and resistance forces in Panjshir valley.

READ MORE: U.S. Sees 'Critical' Afghanistan Role for Pakistan Despite Taliban Ties

Taliban told women to 'wear the burqa because God is angry'

Two female journalists claim to have been stopped while traveling in Afghanistan for only wearing a hijab.

It suggests that although Taliban leaders seek to project an image of protecting women's rights, many fighters outside of Kabul are reported to be returning strict Sharia rules.

On the way back from Jalalabad, an armed Talib stopped us (our driver, another foreign female journo&me). Both of us women had hijabs,covering even our mouths and noses.
“Next time these women should wear the burqa,because God is angry,”the Talib demanded, addressing our driver.

— Stefanie Glinski (@stephglinski) September 7, 2021

'That's a long way off': President Biden hints at reluctant recognition of Taliban government

With a new government imminent in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden was asked last night whether he would recognize a Taliban administration.

"That's a long way off. That's a long way off," he said.

It signals a shift from the original position of allied nations, which stated that they would not recognize any government formed "by force".

Protests against Pakistan government in Kabul

Dozens of women protested in Afghanistan's capital earlier against Pakistan's perceived meddling in their affairs.

It follows accusations that Pakistan's intelligence services are fuelling bitter in-fighting between Taliban leaders and the Haqqani network over a joint new government, set to be announced this week.

Afghan women protest against Pakistan
Afghan women protest against Pakistan
Afghan women protest against Pakistan

Who is Afghanistan's likely new leader?

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's defacto political leader, is likely to take charge of the new government when it is announced in the coming days.

He was born into an influential tribe in southern Afghanistan in 1968, and spent his teenage years fighting with mujahideen guerrillas against invading Soviet troops. After the war, he assisted his former commander Mullah Muhammad Omar found the Taliban, which went on to swiftly conquer much of the country in 1996.

After years of fighting the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan since 2001, he was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan in 2010. But in 2018, as part of a deal between Qatar, the U.S., and Pakistan, he was released and told to found the Taliban's political office in Doha to negotiate with American authorities for peace.

After negotiations largely failed, and the U.S. announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan this year, Baradar plotted the comeback of the Taliban, which took over the country last month virtually unopposed.

It is thought he will soon become the first self-declared leader of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" by the end of this week.

Secretary of State and Defense Secretary to visit Persian Gulf and Europe

Tensions between allies have been strained in recent weeks, with the U.S. accused of poor communication about the withdrawal of troops and exacerbating the chaos of evacuations at Kabul's airport.

President Biden has not suggested ending that presence in the Gulf, which includes the Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, but seeks to reassure the region amid heightened tensions in the Middle East and Asia.

Blinken will travel to Qatar on Sunday, stopping in Germany to see Afghan evacuees at Ramstein airbase who are awaiting clearance to travel to the United States, then joining a virtual meeting with counterparts from 20 nations.

Germany, Spain, Italy, and other European countries are allowing the U.S. to use their military bases to temporarily house Afghans who were airlifted out of Kabul but have not yet been approved for resettlement.

Taliban 'arrests' journalists covering Kabul protests - reports

Reporter Zahra Rahimi at TOLOnews - Afghanistan's main news rolling news channel - claims that other journalists and their camera operators were detained by Taliban fighters after a women's rights protest yesterday.

The reports are unconfirmed and it is unclear which media organizations are affected.

Breaking: Taliban have arrested Journalists and cameramen who were covering today’s protest in Kabul. #Afghanistan

— Zahra Rahimi (@ZahraSRahimi) September 7, 2021

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

It is not yet known exactly when the new Taliban government - which the militant group claims will be "inclusive" - will be announced but a spokesperson confirmed it could be any time this week

Dozens of Afghan refugees destined for the U.S. remain stuck on a plane that has not been allowed to take off, while the situation in Panjshir remains unclear.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Tuesday for all the latest developments.