New Taliban Leaders Face Cascading Challenges

KABUL, Afghanistan — Only at some point after the Taliban named an appearing cupboard to guide the nation they spent 20 years making an attempt to overcome, the dizzying challenges that accompanied victory had been coming into sharp reduction Wednesday.

Tensions flared with neighboring Pakistan. Afghanistan’s longstanding humanitarian disaster deepened. And the militants’ brutal crackdown on dissent threatened to additional erode public belief.

The Taliban, who witnesses say crushed a number of small protests across the nation on Wednesday, have been rounding up scores of demonstrators and subjecting them to abuse in overcrowded jails, in line with journalists who had been current. The repression adopted a Taliban announcement Tuesday that protests wouldn’t be allowed with out authorities approval.

Several Afghan journalists stated that they had been arrested and overwhelmed in custody whereas overlaying a protest Wednesday in entrance of a police station in Kabul — one of many first accounts of journalists being abused because the Taliban got here into energy.

Nemat, a videographer for Etilaat-e Roz, an area newspaper, stated that he and his colleagues had simply arrived on the street the place a number of dozen girls had been gathered with placards and a loudspeaker when Taliban militants from the police station seized his digicam and arrested him.

“I told them I was a journalist and showed them my ID card, but they accused me of organizing the protests,” Nemat stated. “They took me into a room, tied my hands with a scarf and started beating me with a cable.”

Already going through worldwide isolation, the Taliban are additionally struggling to take care of longstanding tensions on the Afghan-Pakistani border, the place the Pakistani Army has continued to shell suspected militant hide-outs in current days, in line with Taliban and Pakistan officers. Sporadic mortar strikes within the rugged reaches of Kunar Province in northeastern Afghanistan the previous week have left no less than 4 folks injured, together with a toddler, in line with senior Taliban officers.

As difficult because the border tensions are — through the years, Pakistan has each supported the Taliban in Afghanistan and accused the Afghan authorities of giving protected haven to a Pakistani department of the Taliban that they view as a direct risk — they’re simply one of many issues on the Taliban’s plate now that the group is in cost.

During its two-decade insurgency, the group exploited the distrust of earlier Afghan governments by the Afghan folks, and it is aware of nicely the type of points that may ignite rebellions.

One former chief, Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president who abruptly resigned in mid-August, continues to be making an attempt to salvage his tattered status, releasing a press release on Wednesday to disclaim that he stole tens of millions of dollars earlier than he fled Kabul within the hours earlier than the capital fell.

He as soon as once more supplied an apology, whereas saying his destiny was the identical destiny of those that got here earlier than. “It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors — without ensuring stability and prosperity,” his assertion stated.

Taliban fighters at a forex alternate in Kabul final week.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

While the Taliban’s announcement of the brand new management Tuesday was meant to unify the motion and formalize the functioning of the federal government, it raised alarms within the West that the group’s earlier guarantees of inclusivity would possibly show empty.

The new cupboard doesn’t embrace any girls, it was drawn largely from former leaders from the Taliban’s repressive regime of the 1990s. That bolstered issues each at residence and overseas that the group was returning to the excesses of the previous.

Speaking at a information convention on the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated that the brand new Taliban authorities “does not meet the test of inclusivity,” and that it consists of “people who have very challenging track records.”

Mr. Blinken famous that the Taliban had recognized their newly chosen leaders as being a part of a “caretaker” cupboard, and stated any American help for a ultimate authorities will “have to be earned.”

The Taliban’s announcement did, nonetheless, obtain cautious approval from Beijing. Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese international ministry, instructed reporters at a briefing on Wednesday that China welcomed the brand new management.

“This has ended the more than three weeks of anarchy in Afghanistan and is a necessary step for Afghanistan’s restoration of domestic order and postwar reconstruction,” he stated, in line with a transcript posted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

He stated that China urged the institution of an “open and inclusive” authorities, however that it revered the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.

Inside the nation, Afghanistan’s new leaders are confronting a bunch of rapid crises, together with efforts by these against their rule to ignite a nationwide protest motion.

The Taliban have at instances responded to demonstrations — even these which have been comparatively small and led by girls — with brute power.

On Tuesday, Zabihullah Mujahid, the appearing deputy info and tradition minister, stated at a information convention that each one protests needed to be accredited upfront by the Ministry of Justice.

“The current demonstrations are spontaneous, and some people are creating a riot,” he stated. He instructed reporters they need to not cowl the protests as a result of they’re “illegal.”

Protesters fleeing as Taliban forces broke up a gathering by firing their weapons within the air in Kabul on Tuesday.Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Still, a day after the warning, protesters had been as soon as once more taking to the streets.

The Taliban haven’t stated what number of demonstrators are in custody, however a number of native journalists painted a harrowing portrait of 1 native jail in Kabul.

When three colleagues of Nemat, the videographer detained on Wednesday, went to the station to ask for his launch, they, too, had been taken into custody, they stated.

Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

Card 1 of 6

Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that got here after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, together with floggings, amputations and mass executions, to implement their guidelines. Here’s extra on their origin story and their document as rulers.

Who are the Taliban leaders? These are the highest leaders of the Taliban, males who’ve spent years on the run, in hiding, in jail and dodging American drones. Little is thought about them or how they plan to control, together with whether or not they are going to be as tolerant as they declare to be. One spokesman instructed The Times that the group wished to neglect its previous, however that there can be some restrictions.

How did the Taliban acquire management? See how the Taliban retook energy in Afghanistan in a couple of months, and examine how their technique enabled them to take action.

What occurs to the ladies of Afghanistan? The final time the Taliban had been in energy, they barred girls and women from taking most jobs or going to highschool. Afghan girls have made many good points because the Taliban had been toppled, however now they concern that floor could also be misplaced. Taliban officers are attempting to reassure girls that issues will probably be totally different, however there are indicators that, no less than in some areas, they’ve begun to reimpose the outdated order.

What does their victory imply for terrorist teams? The United States invaded Afghanistan 20 years in the past in response to terrorism, and plenty of fear that Al Qaeda and different radical teams will once more discover protected haven there. On Aug. 26, lethal explosions outdoors Afghanistan’s major airport claimed by the Islamic State demonstrated that terrorists stay a risk.

How will this have an effect on future U.S. coverage within the area? Washington and the Taliban might spend years pulled between cooperation and battle, Some of the important thing points at hand embrace: how you can cooperate in opposition to a mutual enemy, the Islamic State department within the area, generally known as ISIS-Okay, and whether or not the U.S. ought to launch $9.four billion in Afghan authorities forex reserves which are frozen within the nation.

“The barracks of the police station were full of prisoners,” stated Aber, one of many reporters.

He stated he noticed a demonstrator who was lined in blood after being severely overwhelmed, and witnessed Taliban fighters abusing prisoners. “They were mocking us and saying: ‘You want freedom? What freedom?’” he stated.

The journalists from Etilaat-e Roz had been launched after a number of hours by a Taliban official, who they stated warned them to not cowl “illegal protests.”

A New York Times reporter who interviewed them witnessed intensive patterns of bruising on their our bodies that appeared in line with strikes from cable or different blunt object.

“This is the first very serious incident involving journalists in Kabul, and if we don’t stand together, much worse things may happen,” stated Zaki Daryabi, Etilaat-e Roz’s writer. “We haven’t gotten any response from Taliban officials, but would like to know how we can lodge a complaint.”

The Taliban didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the detention and assault of journalists.

A market in Kabul final month.Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The new authorities can be battling a deepening humanitarian disaster.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, traveled to Afghanistan in current days to satisfy with the Taliban management and go to the group’s amenities.

While there are indicators of a return to normalcy, with outlets open and folks going about their day by day routines, misery is obvious all over the place.

Some folks’s wants are slim, if pressing. They are trying to find lacking relations, or require pressing medical care. But many merely concern for the long run.

“There is, at the present moment, still a trust deficit of major proportions in Afghan society,” Mr. Maurer stated Wednesday.

Fear, he stated, is pervasive.

“I was struck by the many new graveyards I have seen on the roadside,” Mr. Maurer stated, testomony to the extreme combating in current months.

Afghanistan’s issues run so deep, have been so lengthy lasting, and are so dire that it’s the collective accountability of the entire worldwide neighborhood to supply help, he stated.

Most worldwide help, nonetheless, is prone to be tied to the Taliban’s potential to comply with by means of on a promise to not provide a protected haven for worldwide terrorists. That could also be difficult by the jailbreaks that accompanied their lightning-quick conquest of the nation.

As the Taliban moved towards the Afghan capital final month, inmates from a jail facility on the Bagram Airfield — about 30 miles north of Kabul — managed to flee with the assistance of supporters profiting from the chaos.

Mr. Maurer stated the Red Cross was nonetheless working to “get our head around” simply how many individuals are nonetheless being detained within the nation, however he acknowledged that “a lot of prisoners” had escaped.

A view over Kabul on Wednesday.Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Sami Sahak, Wali Arian, Dan Bilefsky, Michael Crowley and Zia ur-Rehman contributed reporting.