KABUL, Afghanistan — Sitting within the house of the spy chief of the fallen Afghan authorities, cradling a Beretta submachine gun in his lap, Mawlawi Habib Tawakol recounted how he and his fighters have been stunned at how rapidly they have been ordered to enter Kabul on Aug. 15, even after the Taliban’s fast advance throughout Afghanistan.
That morning, Mr. Tawakol’s Taliban unit arrived on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, anticipating to camp on the market probably for weeks whereas a proper handover was negotiated. However there could be little ready. President Ashraf Ghani and plenty of different senior officers have been fleeing, catching everybody off guard.
“That afternoon, our management ordered us to enter the town with a view to forestall looting,” he stated. The Taliban intelligence chief, Hajji Najibullah, instructed him and his males to hurry to the headquarters of the Afghan spy company, the Nationwide Directorate of Safety, to safe tools and paperwork. Jail cells, workplaces, safety posts — all had been deserted.
“There was nobody there besides a deputy director, who handed the constructing to us,” Mr. Tawakol stated. “All of the prisoners had already escaped.”
Two weeks later, the Taliban are anticipated to formally announce their new authorities as early as Thursday, together with naming the insurgency’s prime spiritual determine, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, because the supreme chief of Afghanistan. However there may be nonetheless an vital hole between naming a authorities and totally taking on its features, as Mr. Tawakol and different Taliban officers have discovered.
In Kabul, as in a lot of the nation, most vital authorities departments, aside from street-level safety, should not functioning.
The Taliban have urged officers with the previous authorities to remain of their roles, and a few have. However within the face of a looming financial disaster, together with a worsening money scarcity that has put strains on the provision of gasoline, meals and different staples, the previous two weeks have been a scramble by the Taliban to ascertain themselves, each within the public eye and in observe, because the nation’s new governors. A lot of the Afghan public stays deeply distrustful, given the harshness of the Taliban’s final authorities.
Though stunned by the fast give up of the Afghan authorities, the Taliban motion has been making ready to take energy for greater than a decade, steadily increasing its shadow authorities in ready. Through the years, they’ve shaped nationwide commissions for sectors like well being care and training, appointing officers all the way down to the district stage throughout a lot of the nation.
Mawlawi Bakhtar Sharafat, who served as an official in the course of the earlier Taliban regime, has been head of the Taliban’s public works fee since its inception three years in the past, accountable for issues together with the restore and maintenance of roads and bridges.
On Aug. 16, the day after Kabul’s fall, Mr. Sharafat was in Kandahar, on his technique to examine newly conquered infrastructure in western Afghanistan. However that night time, he acquired an pressing message from Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub, a senior Taliban chief who presently features as the manager authority.
“I used to be instructed to please go and management your ministry in Kabul,” Mr. Sharafat recounted in an interview with The New York Occasions. With him have been some staffers from the earlier administration.
When he arrived in Kabul on the public works workplace, whose earlier minister had fled, he met with the remaining employees and reassured them with the motion’s assurance of a basic amnesty, a part of a marketing campaign to induce cooperation from civil servants, safety officers, and most of the people.
“Folks shouldn’t be afraid,” he stated. “We should always reside collectively.”
Whereas a lot of Kabul’s elite fled the nation forward of the Taliban, a couple of senior officers selected to stay at their posts. Wahid Majrooh, the Afghan minister of public well being, stated he turned down a proposal to flee with President Ghani.
“I stayed within the workplace and took the chance,” he stated in a latest interview. “If I go away, my administrators and advisers will go away.”
The morning after the militants entered Kabul, Mr. Majrooh went to his workplace, the place he was visited by the Taliban’s provincial well being commissioner from neighboring Logar Province. “He was stunned to see me,” he stated. “His conduct was respectful, however he had no clear message.”
Mr. Majrooh, frightened about an outbreak of violence or a mass casualty assault, wished to make sure that his hospital community stayed open. He steered that he and the Taliban official go and rally the employees at two hospitals in a Hazara Shiite neighborhood in western Kabul, the place residents could be most afraid of the Taliban’s arrival. “He stated, ‘Nice concept, let’s go!’” Mr. Majrooh recalled.
For the previous two weeks, Mr. Majrooh has shared his workplace with Mawlawi Abdullah Khan, head of the Taliban’s well being fee, whose cooperation he credited with serving to coax employees again to work.
“Most ministries are locked, their providers are disrupted,” he stated, including that for well being providers, nonetheless, “90 % of our employees have come again.”
But the general public well being ministry now faces the identical imminent monetary disaster as the remainder of the federal government, and far of Afghanistan’s financial institution funds and different financing stay frozen by the U.S. and Western governments. The well being care sector is especially depending on donor assist; in keeping with Mr. Majrooh, most organizations he works with have already suspended operations and halted contracts.
“We weren’t anticipating them to cease funding so abruptly,” he stated. “I get calls from hospitals that they’re operating out of gasoline, oxygen, and electrical energy.”
Even because the Taliban have established management over Afghanistan’s formal establishments, its management has pursued extra conventional strategies, together with an outreach by the highly effective Invitation and Steerage Fee, led by Amir Khan Muttaqi. The fee’s occasions included a gathering of non secular students on the Loya Jirga corridor in Kabul final week, the place the tricolor flags of the fallen Afghan republic stay painted on the wall behind the stage.
Perceive the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan
Who’re 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. Right here’s extra on their origin story and their document as rulers.
On the Ministry of Peace in downtown Kabul, Khalil Haqqani, uncle of the Taliban’s deputy chief, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has held a collection of conferences with tribal elders, former authorities officers and navy pilots, urging them to assist the brand new Taliban authorities. Final Thursday, flanked by uniformed guards wielding American M4 carbines, Mr. Haqqani presided over a gathering that included Allah Gul Mujahed, a former member of Parliament from Kabul, who requested the viewers to cooperate with the Taliban.
“All who settle for this nice regulation, which is the holy Quran, increase your hand,” Mr. Haqqani stated.
In his capability as particular consultant to the motion’s supreme chief, Haqqani requested contributors to swear bayah, an Islamic oath of allegiance. Over the previous two weeks, a succession of Afghan energy brokers have taken these oaths in his presence, together with Gul Agha Sherzai, the previous governor of Kandahar, and Hashmat Ghani, brother of the previous president.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, stated that the brand new authorities could be based on its spiritual legitimacy.
“The folks of Afghanistan have fought laborious for 20 years for the institution of an Islamic system,” he stated in an interview with The Occasions at his workplace in Kabul final week. “We had 5 elections they usually have been all corrupt. Every time an American minister needed to come and determine the outcome. In Islam, now we have the precept of the shura to characterize the folks.”
Mr. Mujahid and his press staff have tried to current a cooperative face to the world and to an Afghan public that’s skeptical after the earlier Taliban authorities’s harsh remedy of girls and minorities in the course of the 90s, in addition to the insurgents’ violence towards civilian targets in the course of the struggle.
“We’ve got many factors of widespread curiosity,” Mr. Mujahid stated, itemizing terrorism, opium manufacturing, and refugee flows as potential areas of cooperation with the West.
He stated that though the Taliban would guarantee a strict segregation between genders in colleges and workplaces, ladies could be free to check and work, in addition to go away the home unaccompanied.
“Within the earlier regime, we noticed that there was not solely monetary corruption however ethical corruption,” he stated. “If we separate women and men, then folks will be at liberty to ship their wives and daughters.”
On Wednesday, Taliban officers stated that the brand new Islamic authorities of Afghanistan could be introduced imminently, with Sheikh Haibatullah because the supreme authority.
Nonetheless unclear was the function of a management shura, or council, and whether or not its membership would fulfill the Taliban’s promise of constructing an inclusive authorities. The query additionally stays of whether or not leaders from earlier governments, comparable to Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who’ve remained in Kabul for talks, will likely be included.
Within the interview, Mr. Mujahid emphasised, nonetheless, that the brand new authorities envisioned by the Taliban wouldn’t be a democracy.
“Among the ideas of democracy are in contradiction with the ideas of Islam,” Mr. Mujahid stated. “For instance, in a democracy, the individuals are sovereign. However in Islam, God is sovereign. The Quran is sovereign.”
Jim Huylebroek contributed reporting from Kabul.