New Commander

by Dafydd on 2/22/2010 · 2 comments

Asia Times man in Pakistan (Syed Saleem Shahzad) reports Mullah Akhtar Mansoor to be the replacement for Mullah Baradar.

Taliban sources claim a new decentralised military structure mean this post is now largely symbolic. I expect this is in response to some success in drone attacks. He is from Kandahar and has has strong connections with Karachi.

What is interesting in this article is speculation from the Taliban over why Baradar was arrested. Reasons offered are that info from new captives Mullah Abdul Salam and Mullah Mir Muhammad led to the arrest, or that “the CIA would have traced Mullah Baradar anyway, so Pakistan pre-empted this and won some praise from the US in the process.”

Either way the perception is that this IS a sea change in the level of cooperation from Pakistan. – “For the first time in the nine years of the “war on terror”, Pakistan, by cooperating in operations and the interrogation process, appears to have fully adopted the American war in Afghanistan as its own battle.”

While I am not to keen on the writers opinions, his contacts with the Taliban have generally seemed pretty solid.

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I am a UK citizen & resident with a long standing interest in Central Asia. This probably has something to do with student days, a late night TV show called 'The Silk Road' and a TV with no remote control. I currently work in software and live with my wife & three children.

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BruceR February 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I would tend to agree that some of the scenarios floated recently (that this was an attempt to finesse negotiations) seem far-fetched. Logically these sorts of events are only going to drive the Quetta leadership further underground, making them less likely to participate in negotiations (which by definition, involve traceable contact with others). The idea that Baradar would re-emerge at Karzai’s side as someone fronting a negotiated solution after having been captured seemed even sillier.

Grant February 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm

An article from the NYTimes argued that the arrest was actually an accident. Could either be an effort by Pakistan to reassure some groups that they are still ambivalent, or it could a sign that we shouldn’t be optimistic about long term results.

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