The Taliban’s new leader and his rocky rise to power

Some of the high ranking Taliban officials rejected his leadership, including the former leader’s elder son

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Published: Updated:

Mere days after the official announcement of the death of the Afghan Taliban’s leader, tension began on who would take over the group with the announcement of the late Mullah Mohammad Omar’s former deputy as the new leader.

The new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who has been secretly acting as Mullah Mohammad Omar for almost three days and kept his death hidden from public eyes, suddenly released an audio recording is said to be the group’s new leader.

Divisions in the Taliban are mirrored by divisions in the Afghan government

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Some of the high ranking Taliban officials rejected his leadership, including the former leader’s elder son, brother and his son-in-law who publicly protested against Mullah Mansour’s selection as the new leader.

Left in the dark

According to rumors, the family of Mullah Mohammad Omar were kept in the dark for some time after his death due to security concerns. An Afghan official spoke to me on condition of anonymity and said that a perfect lie had been groomed with the assistance of Pakistani intelligence and with the collaboration of Mullah Akhtar, a close aid to Mullah Mohammad Omar. Of course, this will be very difficult to verify if it is indeed true.

Afghan officials had reportedly learned about Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death almost fifteen days ago and since the secret couldn’t kept hidden no longer it has been publicized despite the peace talks.

The peace talks began in March between the current government of Afghanistan and Taliban in Pakistan whom were hosting the talks with the present of the representatives from the U.S. and China.

The talks were supposed to be resumed after Ramadan but now the talks have been suspended at the request of the Taliban, according to Pakistan.

The mysterious leader

The world heard about the mysterious leader of the Taliban who hasn’t been seen in public for years but the news also revealed that an ambitious person called Mullah Akhtar a has been fabricating messages on behalf of his master for three years.

Mohaz Ghadafi, the leader of Tehrik-e-Islam, another insurgent group in a statement claims that Mullah Mohammad Omar was poisoned and killed by Mullah Akhtar as a result of his collaboration with the U.S. intelligence service.

In Afghanistan, there is another rumor about his death and it’s centered on the ISI, Pakistan’s Intelligence Service, and its alleged involvement with the assistance of Mullah Akhatar. These rumors have, of course, not been corroborated.

There is no proof regarding wither of these stories but there is no doubt that the Pakistani officials should have known about his death and for some reason decided to let Mullah Akhtar play the leader’s role and keep the secret.

The opening of a Taliban office in Qatar and the exchange of prisoners from Guantanamo for a American soldier can all now be seen as part of the collaboration that happened in the absence of Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Circulating rumors

Rumors have been circulating that the death of Mullah Omar was orchestrated in order to jeopardize the authenticity of the peace talks. Although this cannot be verified, Mullah Akhtar released an audio recording in a bid to control the damage. This was the same man who in July approved a face to face meeting between the Taliban delegation and Afghan officials arranged by Pakistan. It is still unclear whether he will pursue peace or war.

What it makes the Afghans worried is the internal divisions among the Taliban which could merge with ISIS. There is a possibility that an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its head.

Divisions in the Taliban are mirrored by divisions in the Afghan government between President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. This lack of coordination has left the country with a very weak security situation.

Once again, Pakistan is left to make the choice: will it be peace or war in Afghanistan?


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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