Afghan Embassy in DC Took Down Images of Former President Who Fled Country

  • The Afghan embassy in Washington, DC, is in a precarious position after the Taliban takeover.
  • Employees represented the former government, which is now defunct. They aren’t in contact with the Taliban.
  • The embassy removed pictures of Ashraf Ghani, the former president, after he fled the country.

The Afghan embassy in Washington, DC, has been in a precarious position since the Taliban marched into Kabul in mid-August. 

Embassy employees, who worked on behalf of the now-defunct US-backed government, face an uncertain future. Their country is now led by a new, interim Taliban government that they have no official communications with, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The embassy is still flying the flag of the Republic of Afghanistan, which is black, red, and green. The Taliban flag is black letters on a white background.

After Ashraf Ghani fled the country amid the Taliban takeover, employees at the embassy took down any images of him, the Journal reported. They viewed Ghani’s departure from Afghanistan as a betrayal. 

The embassy is running out of money, which could mean employees will have to make a choice about whether to return to Afghanistan, attempt to remain in the US, or relocate to another country, per the report. Some reportedly fear facing death or persecution from the Taliban if they go back to Afghanistan. 

“Each of my colleagues can make their own decision that they want to,” Jawad Raha, an employee at the embassy, told the Journal. “If the Taliban take over the embassy, or the embassy is given to them, then it’s up to each individual whether they want to work for the Taliban government or not.”

The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan has not been formally recognized by the US government and the Biden administration has signaled this won’t change any time soon. The Taliban, for instance, named Sirajuddin Haqqani interior minister. Haqqani heads a US-designated terror organization and is wanted by the FBI. 

“The Taliban says it seeks international legitimacy and international support. And that will depend entirely on what it does, not just on what it says,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently told TOLO News.  “And the trajectory of its relationship with us and with the rest of the world will depend on its actions.”

The Taliban has sought to pose as a more moderate entity than it was in the past, while showing few signs that’s it’s changed in a meaningful way. The militant group, for example, has violently cracked down on women-led protests for equal rights.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday told told the Human Rights Council that the Taliban was breaking promises. 

“In contradiction to assurances that the Taliban would uphold women’s rights, over the past three weeks, women have instead been progressively excluded from the public sphere,” Bachelet said, per Reuters.

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