A wanted release put out on Muhammad Omar by Rewards for Justice. Photo / Supplied
Confirmation of the death of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the reclusive
cleric who founded the Afghan Taliban, is likely to complicate the
pursuit for peace in the country.
Omar died in Pakistan in April 2013, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in Kabul, citing “credible information”.
It didn’t specify a cause or say why the news was being revealed only now.
Afghan Taliban issued a statement last night saying they were “not
aware” of a new round of peace talks that had been expected to take
place in Pakistan today. It appears to indicate they will not
participate in the second round of the official face-to-face talks with
the Afghan Government.
It was not clear if they were pulling out of the talks, which began this month.
factions disagree on whether to pursue the peace process, particularly
as the group has lost local commanders to Isis (Islamic State).
The group’s fighters have had battlefield success against the
Afghan Army in the more than two years since Omar’s death, but the
confirmation of his demise may prompt a pullback from peace discussions
until new leadership is officially in place and internal disputes are
“The absence of Mullah Omar is further splintering the
Taliban, and that’s bad news for peace talks,” said a senior analyst at
the International Crisis Group in Kabul, Graeme Smith.
wants to negotiate with a single large opponent, and trying to haggle
out deals with smaller factions would be harder. It’s also opening the
door for other militant groups, such as self-declared Islamic State
factions, which are less willing to negotiate.”
The Taliban are
planning to formally announce the death of Omar and declare his son
Mohammad Yaqub as his successor and the organisation’s leader, a Taliban
commander in the nation’s southern Helmand province, Mullah Akhtar
Mohammad, said yesterday.
Omar’s deputy, Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor,
opposes the family succession because the son has not supported recent
peace talks with the Government, the commander said. Omar’s deputy did
endorse the talks, he said.
The first formal discussions between
the Taliban and the Afghan Government since 2001 occurred in the
Pakistani hill town of Murree early this month.
They raised hopes for a political solution to a conflict that has killed almost 100,000 people since 2001.
involvement of Pakistan, which has close ties with the Taliban
leadership, appeared to signal a new level of seriousness to peace