Taliban requests to address UN; names Suhail Shaheen as envoy
The Taliban has reportedly sent a request letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, asking to address world leaders at the ongoing UN General Assembly. According to Reuters, the group has also nominated its Doha-based spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, as Afghanistan's new UN ambassador. The move reflects the desperation of the Taliban for international recognition since it overthrew the Afghanistan government last month.
Taliban's request sent to 9-member committee: Guterres
The letter was sent by the Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Monday. Confirming Muttaqi's letter, Guterres's spokesperson, Farhan Haq, told Reuters that the Taliban's request has been sent to a nine-member credentials committee. However, the committee is unlikely to meet before Monday, the last day of the General Assembly, making it doubtful that the Taliban's desire to address the UN would succeed.
Credentials committee traditionally meets in October or November
The members of the credentials committee include the US, China, Russia, Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Sweden. The committee usually meets in October-November to assess the credentials of UN members and submits a report for the General Assembly's approval before the year ends.
Move implies replacement of ousted government's Afghan envoy
The appointment of Suhail Shaheen as the new Afghan envoy to the UN would indicate the replacement of Ghulam Isaczai, the UN ambassador representing Ashraf Ghani's ousted Afghanistan government. The Taliban, in their letter, made it clear that Isaczai's mission is "over and he no longer represents Afghanistan." However, there is no threat to Isaczai's position until the credentials committee makes any decision.
Isaczai to address UN General Assembly on September 27
Meanwhile, Isaczai will be addressing the UN General Assembly on the last day of the high-level meeting, September 27. It is still not clear if any countries would object to his address in the wake of the Taliban's letter.
Taliban desperate for international recognition
The Taliban's request to address the UN reflects the desperation of the group for international recognition. International recognition of their new regime can only help the country get badly needed funds for the cash-strapped Afghan economy. Secretary-General Guterres maintained the Taliban's desire for international recognition is the only leverage other countries have to press for an inclusive government and respect for rights in Afghanistan.
Taliban didn't get Afghanistan's UN seat during last regime
During the Taliban's previous rule from 1996-2001, the credentials committee didn't allow the group to take over Afghanistan's UN seat. The UN envoy of the Afghan government they had toppled remained in his position after the committee postponed the decision "on the understanding that the current representatives of Afghanistan accredited to the UN would continue to participate in the work of the General Assembly."