After Omar: The Future of the Taliban and the War in Afghanistan

After Omar: The Future of the Taliban and the War in Afghanistan
Afghan security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle at the site of a suicide attack that targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 7, 2015 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

The “Wizard of Kandahar” is no more: The Afghan Taliban and family of Mullah Muhammad Omar acknowledged the death of the elusive Taliban founder and leader in a statement late last week. Mullah Omar’s death will have serious ramifications not just for the future of Afghanistan, but also for regional stability and the global jihad.

Immediately, the confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death has resulted in the indefinite postponement of the latest round of Pakistan-hosted peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul, which had been scheduled for last Friday. The one-eyed leader’s passing may not necessarily be a death blow to the fragile peace process. Indeed, an official Taliban statement released on Friday announced that Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who is in favor of talks, has been designated as the group’s successor, with powerful Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the so-called Haqqani Network, as his deputy. But some reports suggest that Taliban leaders’ recent meetings have been marked by acrimony, either lacking full participation or marred by walkouts. Since then, both the brother and son of Mullah Omar have challenged Mansour’s designation, objecting to the fact that the decision was reached by a small circle of his supporters and calling for a broader consultation to determine the group’s new leader.

The fragmentation of the Afghan Taliban is a real possibility, driven by divisions over the peace talks, power struggles and now mistrust stemming from the dubious circumstances surrounding Mullah Omar’s death. Within the Taliban, there have been and will continue to be questions over when and how he died, who kept it secret and who has falsely spoken in his name.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.