Despite threats from the Pentagon and several other countries, the United States has yet to see evidence of reforms in the Taliban’s transitional government over Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted that while the international community “doesn’t get a vote” on how the Taliban will set up their government, the community “was hopeful that they would be as inclusive as they said they would be weeks and months ago.”
“But we’ve not seen evidence of that early on,” Austin said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The news comes over one week after the US completed the chaotic troop withdrawal and initial evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan.
The Taliban, which last ruled Afghanistan 20 years ago, has been known for violating human rights, particularly refusing to let women go to school or work.
Afghanistan’s interim government was named on Tuesday and while it remains to be seen who will be given what roles, Taliban officials have already made it clear that no women will be permitted in high-ranking positions.
As protests break out against the Taliban rule, many worry of the militant group working alongside al Qaeda again. Austin made clear on Thursday that the US has warned the Taliban against doing so.
“We put the Taliban on notice that we expect for them to not allow that to happen,” he said. “And I think one of the ways that the Taliban can demonstrate that they are serious about being a bona fide government and respected in an international community is to not allow that to happen.”
The Taliban’s rule has made it difficult for remaining Americans and Afghan allies in the country to evacuate as US forces are no longer in the country. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted Taliban fighters were holding back flights trying to ferry Americans and Afghan allies out of the country.
Thursday saw the largest flight departure of US citizens since the end of the withdrawal, with roughly 200 Americans and Western allies flown out of Kabul to Doha. Taliban authorities patrolled the tarmac and checked travel documents, including visas, before passengers were cleared to board the plane.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not provide the exact number of Americans evacuated when asked during a press briefing.
Despite the State Department’s previous reports on the Taliban halting evacuation efforts, the White House said on Thursday that the militant group has been “cooperative.”
“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA. They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step,” the White House said.
Another evacuation flight is expected to leave Friday.