Taliban request to speak at UN Assembly

The United Nations must decide whether to appoint Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban's proposed spokesman for Qatar, as ambassador
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AP/RAHMAT GUL  -   Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid

In the framework of the UN Assembly, the Taliban have asked to intervene in the upcoming meetings with the aim of initiating "interactions and diplomatic relations" with the countries that are represented in the international body that currently represents 51 states.

This mission is led by the candidate and current spokesman for Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, and would be aimed at initiating diplomatic relations, as well as "securing the rights of the oppressed Afghan people", explained Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi.

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In this way, Karimi confirmed, as UN representatives had already done, their desire to participate in the General Assembly in a letter sent this week, in which they claimed the role of the "Islamic Emirate in the United Nations".

In the framework of the UN Assembly, the Taliban have asked to intervene in the upcoming meetings with the aim of initiating "interactions and diplomatic relations" with the countries that are represented in the international body that currently represents 51 states.

This mission is led by the candidate and current spokesman for Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, and would be aimed at initiating diplomatic relations, as well as "securing the rights of the oppressed Afghan people", explained Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi.

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For the past decade, Shaheen has been working as a member of the insurgents' political office in Doha. During the previous Taliban government from 1996 to 2001, he was working as head of the state-run Bakhtar news agency.

However, this request by the Taliban does not guarantee that talks with international leaders will take place, since that role would fall to a committee of the Assembly that will decide who should intervene on behalf of the Afghan country. In this regard, it appears that such a decision will not, a priori, take place before the end of the General Assembly next Monday. 

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Prior to Karimi's letter of request, the UN reportedly received a letter of request from the current Afghan ambassador, introducing himself as the leader of the Afghan delegation. According to UN spokesman Farhan Haq, both letters have been sent to the General Assembly's credentials committee, a body made up of nine countries including the United States, China and Russia.

In this regard, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had stated before receiving the petitions that international recognition of the Taliban might be the only way to put pressure on them to enact an inclusive government that respects human rights, especially those of women and girls, who are subject to a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

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The Taliban's reconciliatory discourse has not matched the reality as women have been banned from any public appearance, unaccompanied by a man. In addition, they have been forced to wear burqas, to have access to secondary education and to work. 

According to diplomatic sources quoted by EFE, the current Committee is not expected to meet before the end of the Assembly's current debates, so it is unlikely that the Taliban will fulfil their objectives of international representation.

If not, allowing Taliban intervention in the assembly would be an important step towards their entry into the international arena.