Taliban asks to address world leaders at UN General Assembly

Taliban asks to address world leaders at UN General Assembly after Afghanistan takeover

  • The Afghan terror group nominated Suhail Shaheen as their ambassador to UN
  • A panel will rule on their involvement but is not expected to decide this session
  • The UN refused to recognise the former Taliban government from 1996 to 2001

The Taliban has asked to speak to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

The terror group nominated Suhail Shaheen, their spokesman based in Doha, as Afghanistan’s new ambassador to the UN.

The Islamists said the envoy for the former government no longer represented Afghanistan.

The terror group nominated Suhail Shaheen (pictured), their spokesman based in Doha, as Afghanistan’s new ambassador to the UN 

A UN committee will rule on the request but it is unlikely to take place during the current session, which ends on Monday.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a communication on September 15 from the currently accredited Afghan Ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, with the list of Afghanistan’s delegation for the assembly’s 76th annual session.

Five days later, Guterres received another communication with the letterhead ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’ signed by ‘Ameer Khan Muttaqi’ as ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs,’ requesting to participate in the gathering of world leaders.

Muttaqi said in the letter that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was ‘ousted’ as of August 15 and that countries across the world ‘no longer recognise him as president,’ and therefore Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan, Dujarric said. 

Senior US State Department officials said they were aware of the Taliban’s request – the United States is a member of the UN credentials committee – but they would not predict how that panel might rule. 

But one of the officials 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 at least during the high-level leaders’ week.

In cases of disputes over seats at the United Nations, the General Assembly’s nine-member credentials committee must meet to make a decision. 

Ameer Khan Muttaq (pictured), Afghanistan’s ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs,’ sent a letter requesting to participate in the gathering of world leaders

Both letters have been sent to the committee after consultations with General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid’s office. 

The committee’s members are the United States, Russia, China, Bahama, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden.

Isaczai was scheduled to give the last speech on the final day of the high-level meeting on September 27, but since Afghanistan say he does not represent them, the plans are up in the air.

It wasn’t clear who would speak if the committee met and the Taliban were given Afghanistan’s seat.

When the Taliban last ruled from 1996 to 2001, the UN refused to recognise their government and instead gave Afghanistan’s seat to the previous, warlord-dominated government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who eventually was killed by a suicide bomber in 2011. 

It was Rabbani’s government that brought Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.

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 UN’s so-called blacklist of international terrorists and funders of terrorism.

Credentials committee members could also use Taliban recognition as leverage to press for a more inclusive government that guarantees human rights, especially for girls who were barred from going to school during their previous rule, and women who weren’t able to work.

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