The Taliban is challenging the credentials of their country’s former U.N. ambassador and want to speak at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting of world leaders.
The question now facing U.N. officials comes just over a month after the Taliban, ejected from Afghanistan by the United States and its allies after 9/11 came back into power as U.S. forces prepared to withdraw from the country at the end of August.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary General Antonio Guterres received a communication on September 15th from the currently accredited Afghan Ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, with the list of Afghanistan’s delegation for the assembly’s 76th annual session.
On September 20th, the UN Secretary General received another communication titled “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” signed by “Ameer Khan Muttaqi” as “Minister of Foreign Affairs,” requesting to participate in the U.N. gathering of world leaders.
Muttaqi said in the letter that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was “ousted” as of August 15th and that countries across the world “no longer recognize him as president,” and therefore Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan, Dujarric said.
The Taliban said it was nominating a new U.N. permanent representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, the U.N. spokesman said.
He has been a spokesman for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar.
Whether the Taliban are allowed to attend the UNGA depends on the decision of the U.N. credentials committee.
Associated Press cited an unnamed official who said the committee “would take some time to deliberate,” suggesting the Taliban’s envoy would not be able to speak at the General Assembly at this session. Afghanistan is scheduled to give the last speech on the final day of the high-level meeting on September 27th. It wasn’t clear who would speak if the committee met and the Taliban were given Afghanistan’s seat.
The Taliban have said they want international recognition and financial help to rebuild the war-battered country.
But the makeup of the new Taliban government poses a dilemma for the United Nations. Several of the interim ministers are on the U.N.’s so-called blacklist of international terrorists and funders of terrorism.
No government has yet recognized the Taliban government, first demanding that it meet commitments on human rights, but the ruling emir of Qatar, whose nation has played a pivotal role in Afghanistan, urged world leaders against turning their backs on the Taliban.
Speaking at the UNGA on September 21st, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani stressed “the necessity of continuing dialogue with Taliban because boycott only leads to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue could bring in positive results.”
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