After the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban, concerns over future of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban increased. The question is that can we be optimistic for the future of these negotiations in the post-Mullah Omar death or not?
Previously the preliminary negotiations in China’s Urumqi and then in Pakistan’s Murree had brought optimisms that these meetings would unweave the problem of Afghanistan and would become a window towards peace, however, news of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death, which came after two years, delayed the second round of negotiations that were going to be held in Islamabad to uncertain time, in the case, officials from the Afghan government had announced that the issue of “ceasefire” would be at the top of agenda in the next round’s negotiations.
Taliban’s new leadership and Peace Process
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who is called as the new leader of the Taliban, was appointed as a second person of the Taliban movement in 2010 after Mullah Biradar’s arrest. On the other word, from the last five years, he, in practice, was paymaster of entire affairs of the Taliban from military operations to political activities.
If we compare the last five years with the past when Mullah Biradar was responsible for executive affairs of Taliban, we realize that the vision of the Taliban toward peace and negotiations and at all toward the world has changed in these 5 years. Before that, every kind of tendency to peace was considered as infidelity in the ranks of Taliban and if someone from the ranks of the Taliban was talking about necessity of understating and peace with America or the government of Afghanistan, he was putting himself in a big danger.
This kind of view had caused war in Afghanistan, from the perspective of the Taliban, to be not only a war for the independence of Afghanistan but, also, for getting revenge from the United States for what they have done in the Islamic world. On the other hand, this view of Taliban had made the International Community to consider the Taliban as an ally of Al Qaeda which is an extremist group that follows the agenda of international jihad (armed conflict).
War on Afghanistan, up to that era, could be considered as (war against the unknown). It means that unlike the entire wars in history, America war against the Taliban, where one side (the Taliban) was completely absent and didn’t have the address in order to be contacted, however, their presence was felt in the battle-grounds only, and they were not accessible and visible in other places, either.
After Mullah Biradar’s arrest and Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour’s appointment as his successor; for the first time, the topic of negotiations with foreigners was included on the agenda of Taliban’s leadership. Perhaps, the change in the Taliban’s perspective might have occurred due to the declaration of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, and this could be a subterfuge for Mullah Mansour to discuss necessity of negotiations with foreigners.
Negotiations between Tayyib Agha and American officials eventually resulted inaugurating an address for the Taliban in Qatar. The reason after these negotiations did not face serious opposition is, all of them thought that this work was done as a result of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s orders; otherwise, from the very beginning, the senior commanders of Taliban were against it and they believed that negotiations for peace would weaken morale of the warriors.
Peace in Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour’s speech
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, in his speech in a meeting held for taking allegiance to him, dismissed talks about peace as ‘enemies’ propaganda’, and this word of his was considered as his repugnance toward the peace process, but, the atmosphere this speech was given in should be taken care, also.
A crowd of the Taliban that is practically present in the battle field participated in that gathering, so Mansour couldn’t discussed peace and support for peace process in their presence, however, his hints on that every decision in the movement would be made in accordance to Sharia (Islamic Law) and his allusion to the political commission (TPC) inside the administrative mechanism of the Taliban could be considered as a kind of upholding means other than fighting in order to achieve their goal.
Resignation of Tayyib Agha and Position of Qatar’s Office
After the news on death of Mullah Mohammad Omar and allegiance to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was broadcasted, some of the Taliban members became opposed to him. This opposition does not mean disregarding the peace process and negotiations because these defiant were personally participated in the peace negotiations in Urumqi and Islamabad; therefore, it can be said that the opposite side of Mansour is not against the peace process, either.
However, the important news regarding this issue is the resignation of Tayyib Agha from the presidency of the Taliban’s political office (TPC) in Qatar. Tayyib Agha was one of the most reliable men of Mullah Mohammad Omar and we can say that his appointment on this post by Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in 2010 was to assure Mullah Mohammad Omar that TPC will not do anything against the orders of Taliban’s leader.
Tayyib Agha in his resignation expressed the reasons behind it. His first objection was that why the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar was kept secret from him?
Tayyib Agha as the president of TPC has plenty of contacts with different countries in the past several years; he, in those meetings, had assured them that Mullah Mohammad Omar is alive. Now, he surmises that he, following the news on the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which came out two years after he died, would not have the previous prestige as a representative of the Taliban in negotiations with foreigners.
Need to mention that the news of Tayyib Agha’s resignation was even heard two years ago, however, it had been rejected later. It looks like he previously was feeling a kind of turbulence in the decrees received by him and the appointments made in the Qatar Office by the Taliban Leading Council (TLC).
But the important issue he mentioned in his letter of resignation is appointment of the new leader of Taliban inside Pakistan. He was always assuring the diplomats of other countries that the Taliban are not under the influence of Pakistan, but now, after this way of electing the leader, he could not justify that why the appointment of the new leader took place outside the country.
Tayyib Agha in his resignation said that every kind of appointment of leader outside the country had unpleasant consequences for Afghanistan. He mentions the appointments of Communist leaders abroad, Mujahedeen’s government in Peshawar and eventually the appointment of the leaders of present government of Afghanistan in Bonn, and he concludes that the leaders elected/appointed outside of Afghanistan would never be successful leaders for Afghanistan.
He does not tell that he is against the new leadership, but, he opted the position of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s family, meaning he wouldn’t pledge his allegiance to no one, however, he would remain as individual beside the Taliban.
Following the resignation of Tayyib Agha, Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the deputy of the Qatar Office and the entire members of the Qatar Office declared their support to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and according to the reports, Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai is appointed as president of TPC, also.
Future of the Peace Negotiations
The peace negotiations took place as a result of Pakistan’s intercession; do not include the Qatar Office. Those, who on behalf of the Taliban, which had participated in these negotiations, are against the new leader of Taliban; therefore, negotiations on peace is not the friction point between the new leader and his opponents and it shows that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and his opponents have concurrence in that peace is a necessity.
However, the disagreement is on succession that may continue for a while. If the opponents of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour could make at least some of the commanders in battle field to join them, in this case, the ramification in the Taliban ranks would become possible.
Opponents of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour have not said anything about their alternative for Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. It is commonly said that they insist on succession of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s son. Considering that the Taliban is hardly a political group compared to a religious group; the issue of appointing the son as a successor of the father and that whether Emirate (leadership) is hereditary or not, could raise a religious discussion rather than a political argument among them.
Considering these disagreements, it can be expected that the peace process will be suspended to an uncertain time, therefore, participation in the peace process in circumstances of friction can weaken the position of the party participated in the negotiations especially among the armed Taliban.