Taliban diplomat among Time magazine’s top 100 global figures

Abdul Ghani Baradar gets glowing write-up in magazine’s list of ‘extraordinary leaders’

Taliban figure Abdul Ghani Baradar. Photograph: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Taliban figure Abdul Ghani Baradar. Photograph: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty

 

Time magazine’s top 100 global figures for 2021 includes several key individuals from the wider Middle East, including the Taliban’s veteran diplomat Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Mr Baradar, who came to global prominence during the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, has been listed as one of the most influential world leaders along with US president Joe Biden, vice-president Kamala Harris and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Described as a “charismatic military leader” and a “deeply pious figure”, Mr Baradar has emerged as deputy prime minister in the newly appointed all-male Taliban cabinet.

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid wrote a glowing tribute in Time: “When the Taliban swept to victory in August in Afghanistan, it was on the terms Baradar negotiated. He was said to be making all the major decisions, including the amnesty offered to members of the former regime, the lack of bloodshed when the Taliban entered Kabul and the regime’s contacts and visits with neighbouring states, especially China and Pakistan. ”

By contrast, the Time rundown on Iran’s hard-line president Ebrahim Raisi features his compliance in the execution of thousands of political prisoners and members of religious minorities in the 1980s.

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett was praised by Palestinian-Israeli coalition member Mansour Abbas as a “courageous” man ready to effect dramatic change in a country gripped by political stalemate by including for the first time a Palestinian-Israeli party as a full partner in government.

The unprecedented right-left-Arab coalition denied former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu a third term.

‘Iconic’ twins

Also on Time’s list is Mahbouba Seraj , who after 26 years in exile returned to Afghanistan to co-found the Afghan Women’s Network, which campaigns for women’s and children’s rights and peace.

In the icon category, Palestinian twins Muna al-Kurd and Mohammed al-Kurd (23) lead the campaign to combat Israeli efforts to plant Israeli settlers in Palestinian homes in the contested Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

“Through online posts and media appearances [they] provided the world with a window into living under occupation in East Jerusalem this spring – helping to prompt an international shift in rhetoric in regard to Israel and Palestine,” Time’s Sanya Mansoor wrote.

Another iconic figure, Iranian women’s rights campaigner Nasrin Sotoudeh, was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for collusion with foreign powers, spreading false news and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. She was released last year to end her 46-day hunger strike.

Time chief editor Edward Felsenthal said this year’s top-100 list features “extraordinary leaders [including 54 women] from around the world working to build a better future [who] in a year of crisis have leaped into the fray”.