Islamic oppression Afghanistan | 23 February 2023

Afghanistan: Possible deepening rifts in Taliban ranks

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In a rare public outburst, Taliban Minister of the Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani criticized Afghanistan’s leadership for “monopolizing” power (VOA, 13 February 2023). At a religious gathering in his home province, Khost, he said: ‘Our views and thoughts have dominated us to such an extent that power monopolization and defamation of the entire [ruling] system have become common”, adding that the Taliban should not adopt policies that drive a wedge between “the [ruling] system and the people, allowing others to exploit it to defame Islam.”

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller comments: “Haqqani did not explicitly mention any names in his criticism, but he is known for opposing any ban on education for girls. Other high-ranking politicians were likewise reported to be cautiously criticizing the leadership (The Diplomat, 16 February 2023). While reports on potential rifts in the Taliban movement did appear in 2022, this is now serious enough to call for closer observation, especially at a time when the Taliban continue to be challenged by strong forces like the Islamic State group (ISKP).”

Thomas Muller adds: “And as if this would not be challenging enough for the situation in Afghanistan, neighboring Pakistan is beginning to fully realize that the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan has no intention of reining in its TTP-branch in Pakistan. According to a report from USIP, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada is protecting the TTP in Pakistan, despite the fact that many of the Taliban involved in day-to-day politics in Kabul would prefer a policy limiting the TTP’s violent operations (USIP, 14 February 2023). Although this does not mean that Pakistan will take any strong form of action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, it certainly puts a strain on their relationship, not least due to the upcoming elections in Pakistan, due to take place by mid-October 2023 (Council on Foreign Relations, 22 December 2022). This policy may drive Afghanistan into further isolation and may rob the Taliban of one of the few patrons and friends they still have.”


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