Analysis and comments

29.04.2021
478

INTERNAL CONFLICTS AGGRAVATE WITHIN THE TALIBAN

In the Afghan branch of the Taliban, the internal conflict between the three largest factions is escalating. This is happening due to the announced withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan and the intensified competition between various Taliban groups striving to lead the further “victorious jihad”. The Afghan government could use the split within the Taliban to strengthen its position at home and abroad.

“Deep divisions have emerged between the various Taliban councils,” Director of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) General Ahmad Zia Saraj stated at the news conference by Afghan security officials held in Kabul a few days ago. According to him, “these divisions are increasing day by day as they (the rival Taliban councils) hope each to advance their interests if foreign troops leave Afghanistan.”

The statement by Afghan intelligence chief Ahmad Zia Saraj issued in April confirms our prediction made in mid-February 2021 that Mullah Mohammad Yakub of the Council of Quetta and Sirajuddin Haqqani of the Council of Peshawar will soon clash in the struggle for power within the Taliban movement. As a result, the situation becomes even more interesting, giving the grounds to assume that a “civil war" within the Taliban itself may start on certain conditions to resolve the conflict of interests of three major factions of the “furious mullahs” movement, namely Quetta, Peshawar and Rasul factions.

There is no doubt that the Afghan government will take advantage of the growing contradictions within the Taliban. A few days ago, one of the most influential politicians in Kabul, the head of the Afghan National Security Council Dr. Hamdullah Mohib, publicly raised the issue of “under-representation” of the Taliban in inter-Afghan negotiations.

According to him, the negotiation process was monopolized by only one faction of the Taliban, which conveniently ignores the interests of other groups.

In our opinion, the political intrigue launched by Mohib may be quite promising from the point of view of provoking new areas of the internal Taliban conflict. It is possible that the Afghan government will offer Mullah Rasul to send his representatives to the inter-Afghan negotiations, and if the official delegation of the Taliban refuses to include them in its composition, then official Kabul itself may well do it.

In this case, a reset of the entire format of the inter-Afghan negotiation process cannot be avoided, especially since the Afghan delegation will in this case also represent a part of the Taliban movement.