The president waiting for Afghanistan? – The diplomat
Mullah Abdul Ghani, better known as Mullah Baradar (i.e. brother), could become the next president of Afghanistan. Talks are between different actors of the Afghan conflict to decide the composition of a new Afghan government. Despite being a Taliban-dominated government, it appears the group is under pressure to make it more inclusive.
According to media reports, Baradar, who arrived in Kandahar two days after the Taliban captured Kabul, is the favorite for the post of president. Even if he does not become president, he will assume “a major role in the new government,” according to a former Afghan government official.
Baradar is the political leader of the Taliban and was appointed head of their political bureau in Doha in January 2019. He has been the public face of the Taliban for the past two years, leading the group in negotiations with the United States and in the intra-Afghan negotiations that followed. talks. Baradar also led Taliban diplomatic delegations over the past year to several capitals, including Moscow, Islamabad, Tehran and Beijing.
He is widely considered to be the fittest to lead the new Afghan government. An important reason is its “moderate” image. His involvement in the search for a political settlement of the Afghan conflict gave him the appearance of being a political rather than a military leader. He was cautious in his statements and tried to appear reasonable, adopting a firm but non-confrontational tone.
Earlier this year, for example, when the Biden administration announced a review of the Doha deal and it looked like it would end the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Baradar reached out to the American public through through an “open letter” published on the official Taliban website, Voice of Jihad, in which he called on “the American side to remain committed to the full implementation of this agreement”. The Afghan conflict could not be resolved by use of force, he said, reiterating that the Taliban were “sincerely determined to find a political solution to the ongoing conflict.
Long before he began negotiating with the US government delegation headed by Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Baradar was seen as a key player in a possible future political settlement, someone whose participation was necessary not only to restart talks with the insurgent group. but who had broad support in the Taliban leadership as well as the base.
In 2010, for example, unknown to Pakistan, Baradar was negotiating with then Afghan President Hamid Karzai; both are Pashtuns from the Popalzai tribe. Fearing that he would succeed in making a deal with the Afghan government that would exclude them, the Pakistanis sabotaged the effort in stopping Baradar in Karachi.
All the main actors in the Afghan conflict have recognized its central place in the peace talks and in a political process. In 2019, Khalilzad revealed that Karzai and his successor, President Ashraf Ghani, saw Baradar’s potential to “play a central role in the peace process” and had repeatedly pressured the Pakistanis for his release. The Americans also saw him as a “moderate and helpful facilitator in peace talks,” someone who was “more open, more pro-peace.” Therefore, when the Trump administration began to explore talks to allow the withdrawal of US troops, Khalilzad urged Pakistan to release him, a request Islamabad finally acceded to in October 2018.
The Taliban have several other leaders, such as its Emir Haibatullah Akhundzada, military leader Mullah Yaqoob and network leader Haqqani Sirajuddin Haqqani, who are known for their knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence or for their military prowess. But these leaders are also known for their brutality, extremist and ultra-conservative views and are therefore less likely to be acceptable to foreign governments. Baradar at the head would make the new government appear more moderate and improve the chances of the new government obtaining diplomatic recognition and possibly investment.
It is important to note that Baradar enjoys the respect of the Taliban base. He was a close associate and trusted collaborator of Mullah Mohammed Omar. His links with Omar go back to the 1980s; during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the two were part of the same mujahideen group. Then in 1994, Baradar and Omar founded the Taliban.
Hence, Baradar enjoys the aura of belonging to the founding generation of the Taliban and is respected for having been Omar’s confidant and himself bound by marriage. His seniority and proximity to Mullah Omar give him a stature few other Taliban leaders can match.
Baradar’s stature within the Taliban soared after the Doha deal was signed in February 2020. The deal, which was signed by Baradar and Khalilzad, called for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. According to terrorism analyst Abdul Basit, the deal was viewed by the Taliban as an American “surrender document”. The deal also gave legitimacy to the Taliban. Since Baradar negotiated and signed the document, he strengthened his position within the Taliban.
Baradar may be considered by some to be a moderate today, but as a member of Mullah Omar’s inner circle, he has long believed in the founding ideas and ultra-conservative ideology of the Taliban.
In addition, before assuming his current role as a political negotiator, he was primarily a soldier and played an important role in the Taliban military offensives that resulted in the bloody capture of Kabul in 1996.
Baradar was an important part of the Taliban regime which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. While some reports claim he was governor of Herat and Nimruz provinces, an unclassified US State Department document lists him as the old one Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and commander of the Central Corps during the Taliban regime. According to Interpol, he was the Taliban’s deputy defense minister.
Baradar may have been responsible for massacres during the period 1998-2000. “As deputy chief of staff, on the ground during the Taliban offensive on Shomali in 1999,” he personally ordered[ed] and more-[saw] one of the massacres, the summary execution of the eleven personnel of the Dasht-e Chirchirik air base on August 3 ‘”, the network of Afghan analysts reported, citing a report from The Afghanistan Justice Project
His role in the Taliban regime earned him a place in the United Nations Security Council Sanctions List.
After the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, Baradar fled to Pakistan. He would have played an important role in reorganizing the group to fight a guerrilla war against coalition forces and thus facilitated its resurgence.
Baradar’s relations with Pakistan have sparked much speculation in India and Afghanistan. Did the Pakistanis manage to “transform” him during his time in prison or did his stay in prison harden his opposition to the ISI?
According to Indian officials, Baradar is one of the few Taliban leaders to have resisted control by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Apparently he harbors a lot of resentment against Pakistan for his imprisonment, as his imprisonment halted his rise to the top of the Taliban.
In 2007, Baradar was appointed deputy to Mullah Omar. When Omar’s health began to deteriorate, Baradar took charge of the Daily tasks organisation. Above all, he was in charge of its military affairs and finances and appointed and dismissed military commanders.
When the Pakistani authorities detained him in 2010 and then kept him in prison for eight years, not only did they remove him from his activities on the ground, but they also nipped in the bud his ambitions to become the leader of the Taliban, according to Indian officials.
While Baradar may have a problem with Pakistanis, his relationship with them is unlikely to be difficult. Baradar is well aware of the importance of Pakistan to the Taliban. He is unlikely to allow his personal troubles to impact the future of the Taliban.
Although his imprisonment by Pakistan hampered his ambitions to succeed Mullah Omar as emir of the Taliban, this prison sentence may have worked well for Baradar as it took him off the battlefield, indirectly allowing in the world to forget its brutal military past.
Over the coming weeks and months, foreign governments will strategize on how to deal with the new government. While the makeover of Baradar’s image will play an important role in gaining the support of the Taliban government, foreign governments must exercise caution. They should keep in mind that it has already been described as “more cunning and dangerousAs Mullah Omar.