Taliban ask to speak at United Nations, nominate their own ambassador

The UN credentials committee "would take some time to deliberate."

Faris Alfiq | September 23, 2021, 05:55 PM

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After ousting the Afghanistan government soon after the United States withdrew its forces from the country, the Taliban are now requesting to speak to world leaders at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, which is taking place this week in New York, according to a UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Sep. 21. 

France24 reported that the Taliban have also nominated their ambassador to the UN, Suhail Shaheen, to replace current Afghanistan's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Ghulam Isaczai.

Taliban sent letter to UN Secretary-General

Dujarric said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had received a letter from the Taliban "requesting to participate" in the General Assembly debate.

The letter, with the letterhead "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs," dated Sep. 20, was signed off by Amir Khan Muttaqi as "Minister of Foreign Affairs."

Khan is the Taliban's acting foreign minister after the group took control of the country. He was a member of the Taliban negotiation team for the U.S.-Taliban deal in Doha, which led the U.S. to agree to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the UN credentials committee, a nine-member committee that examines the credentials of representatives of member states, will look into the Taliban's request.

It was unclear whether the committee, which is made up of Russia, China, the U.S., Sweden, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Chile, Bhutan and the Bahamas, will be meeting before the end of the session.

AP reported that senior U.S. State Department officials said they were aware of the Taliban's request, but they would not predict how that panel might rule.

The report added that one of the officials said the committee "would take some time to deliberate". 

Taliban nominated their representative to the UN

According to the BBC, if the credentials committee has yet to meet and decide before the end of the General Assembly, Isaczai will remain as Afghanistan's ambassador to the UN, under the UN rules.

He is expected to make a speech on the final day of the session. However, in a letter sent by the Taliban, they said that Isaczai's mission "no longer represents Afghanistan".

Al Jazeera reported that according to the letter, the Taliban said it was nominating Mohammad Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan's new UN permanent representative.

Suhail was a spokesman for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar, the report added. 

The Taliban added that several countries no longer recognise former president Ashraf Ghani as Afghanistan's leader.

After the Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15, Ghani abruptly fled Afghanistan and has since taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates.

The Taliban had launched a PR offensive since taking power, speaking to various international media outlets, and offering promises to protect women's rights media freedom, and amnesty for government officials.

These pledges had been met with skepticism, and accusations that the Taliban had not followed through with their promises.

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