Internal rifts split Afghanistan’s Taliban

Alwaght- Signs of division have emerged among the Afghanistan’s Taliban militant group after its leader Mullah Omar died, and Mullah Akhtar succeeded him. Following the new appointment, gradually a group of Taliban announced their opposition, choosing Mullah Mohammad Rasul, governor of two Afghan provinces of Farah and Nimruz at the time of Taliban government, as their leader.

The newly separated Taliban fraction has appointed Mullah Abdul Manan deputy for Mullah Abdul Rasul, as it elected Mohammad Dadullah and Mullah Shir Mohamad Akhond Zadeh as deputies for military affairs and Mullah Baz Mohammad Haris as depuity of political affairs. The Mullah Rasul’s group argued that Mullah Akhtar Mansour has marred their movement reputation for the sake of his greed for power.

The new vision and rift have triggered clashes between armed militants belonging to the two groups in Zabul province. The reports suggested that clashes have left over 50 people dead from the two sides. Meanwhile, the question which rises is that what internal factors have been effective in emergence of the gap in the body of Afghanistan’s Taliban?

To answer the question two sets of major elements must be put into consideration.

The first and the most important factor is the fact that after the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, group members disagreed over selecting new leadership. Some of the members of Taliban believed that Akhtar Mansour had covered up Mullah Omar’s death to take his place while he and some other members had been Omar’s close friends and confident partners, and he had fully trusted in their company and help.

In addition to possible Mansour’s  role in the death of Mullah Omar, other factors including torture of the key Taliban members, ignoring Mullah Omar’s family and other Taliban’s top leaders, Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s coup have been central in appearance of gaps in Taliban’s body and announcement of Mullah Mohammad Rasul as rival leader. The objection of some of Taliban’s outstanding figures, who questioned choosing Mansour as leader, has been influential in widening the division.

Moreover, some of Taliban’s military commanders including Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, Molavi Mohammad Yaqub, Mullah Abdul Manan, and Mullah Najibullah have come against Akhtar Mansour. Molavi Mohammad Yaqub, Mullah Omar’s son, and Mullah Abdul Manan, Omar’s half-brother, have rejected to recognize Mansour as leader, as Mullah Abdul Manan has said that very soon there would be a meeting to be attended by Taliban’s leaders and military commanders to choose a new leader as successor for Mullah Omar. The complex of these approaches has created a new front for the militant group’s leadership, and even the swear of allegiance by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s leader, has not boosted Taliban new leader’s position.

On the other hand, Mullah Rasul and his supporters see the increase of attempts to fix up direct negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban, and intensification of violence and its outstretch to Afghanistan’s northern regions as other factors underpinning Taliban discords. Having in mind that Mullah Mansour has been aware of the peace process and it was with his agreement that the process moved ahead, in fact Mansour’s bloc attitudes, which are more moderate toward the Afghan government and the peace process,  have brought forth some opposition to his leadership, especially from Mullah Rasul’s more conservative fraction.

Therefore, it should be noted that the type of Kabul government’s interaction with Taliban and the peace talks, and type of the interaction of ISIS terrorist group with different fractions of Taliban have been effective in the current split. It seems that Mullah Rasul’s group is dissatisfied with Mullah Akhtar stance against the peace talks with government, and its position against ISIS is not as hostile as that of Mansur. Some reports talk about Rasul’s flexible and moderate approach to ISIS and the terrorist group’s supports for Mullah Mansour’s opponents.

By Alwaght