Afghan Taleban rally behind new leader

Afghan Taleban rally behind new leader
Mullah Mohammad Omar

Kandahar - Many senior figures said his deputy-turned-successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, had deliberately misled them.



By By Mirwais Khan And Lynne O'don

Published: Sat 6 Feb 2016, 3:39 PM

Afghanistan's Taleban are closing ranks around their new leader after months of infighting that followed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which could allow the insurgents to speak with one voice in hoped-for peace talks but will also strengthen them on the battlefield.
The Afghan government's announcement last summer that Mullah Omar, the reclusive one-eyed founder of the group, had died two years earlier in Pakistan aggravated longtime rifts within the movement. Many senior figures said his deputy-turned-successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, had deliberately misled them.
The upheaval led to the collapse of Pakistan-brokered face-to-face talks between Kabul and the Taleban after just one round, and clashes flared between Mansoor loyalists and a splinter group led by Mullah Mohammed Rasool, which declared him the leader of the Taleban in November.
But Abdul Rauf, a Taleban commander close to Rasool, said senior Taleban figures who had objected to the rapid and secretive succession are now reluctantly returning to the fold. "We all took a stand against Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, but now one by one we are joining with him without demanding any changes," he said.
Relatives of Mullah Omar, notably his brother Manan and son Yaqub, had objected to the selection of Mansoor, which was done by a small inner circle of senior Taleban leaders. But they were persuaded last year to drop their objections and publicly declared their loyalty to Mansoor. - AP

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, Afghan Taliban fighters listen to Mullah Mohammed Rasool, unseen, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, in Farah province, Afghanistan. Afghanistan?s Taliban are closing ranks around their new leader after months of infighting that followed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which could allow the insurgents to speak with one voice in hoped-for peace talks but will also strengthen them on the battlefield.(AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, Afghan Taliban fighters listen to Mullah Mohammed Rasool, unseen, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, in Farah province, Afghanistan. Afghanistan?s Taliban are closing ranks around their new leader after months of infighting that followed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which could allow the insurgents to speak with one voice in hoped-for peace talks but will also strengthen them on the battlefield.(AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2015 file photo, an Afghan store clerk waits for customers at a news stand where local papers carry headlines about the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan?s Taliban are closing ranks around their new leader after months of infighting that followed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which could allow the insurgents to speak with one voice in hoped-for peace talks but will also strengthen them on the battlefield. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2015 file photo, an Afghan store clerk waits for customers at a news stand where local papers carry headlines about the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan?s Taliban are closing ranks around their new leader after months of infighting that followed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which could allow the insurgents to speak with one voice in hoped-for peace talks but will also strengthen them on the battlefield. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

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