'No Taliban 2.0 After All': 10-Point Guide
Taliban Government: The Taliban has vowed to be more tolerant this time.
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
All top positions have been handed to key leaders from the movement and the Pakistan-linked Haqqani network -- the most violent faction of the Taliban known for devastating suicide attacks.
Co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, who oversaw the signing of the US withdrawal agreement in 2020 and was seen to be a relatively moderate Taliban face based in Doha, was edged out of the top post by hardliner Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a senior minister during the Taliban's brutal reign in the 1990s, also the man who ordered the destruction of the Bamiyaan Buddhas.
Mullah Yaqoob, the son of the Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, is Defence Minister. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a US most-wanted terrorist and the leader of the feared Haqqani network, is Interior Minister, exposing the stamp of Pakistan.
These are more signs that the "Doha faction" of the Taliban, considered comparatively moderate, has been marginalized. Another member of the Doha group, the Taliban's Sher Abbas Stanikzai, has been made Deputy Foreign Minister.
Confirming that little has changed for the armed group despite its claims, the Taliban has also reinstated the feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which arrested and punished people for failing to implement the movement's restrictive interpretation of sharia law. Hibatullah Akhundzada, the secretive supreme leader of the Taliban, released a statement saying the new government would "work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and sharia law".
"The new Taliban, same as the old Taliban," tweeted Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, summing up global worries about the Taliban and the diplomatic fallout of its return.
Protests continue in the country against the oppressive regime. A small protest in Kabul today was quickly dispersed by armed Taliban security. Hundreds had protested yesterday on the streets of Kabul and Taliban guards fired shots to disperse the crowds. Several journalists were briefly detained. In Herat, two bodies, allegedly with bullet wounds, were brought to the city's central hospital from the site of protests.
The Taliban spokesman warned people against taking to the streets and also said journalists should not cover any demonstrations. The group -- which executed people in stadiums and chopped the hands of thieves in the 1990s -- said it would not stand for any resistance against its rule.
"We note the announced list of names consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women. We also are concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of the individuals," said a US State Department spokesperson said.
Qatar, the central intermediary between the Taliban and the international community in recent years, said the Taliban should be judged on their actions and they had demonstrated "pragmatism" of late. But the country stopped short of announcing formal recognition of Afghanistan's new rulers.