The Taliban Divide

by Patrick Appel

Hasan Khan reports from Islamabad:

Mullah Baradar, the deputy to the Afghan Taliban's leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and de-facto operational commander of the movement, is leading those who favor talks with the Afghan government. Mullah Baradar and his allies believe the political situation for starting peace talks is in the Taliban's favor because several provinces in Afghanistan are virtually controlled by the Taliban, thus allowing them to negotiate from a position of strength.

And the politically savvy Mullah Baradar reportedly wants to exploit the opportunity presented by the vigorous debate in the United States over President Obama's controversial recent announcement that he is sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to the Afghan theater.

However, Siraj Haqqani, the powerful son of the well known Afghan militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, is opposed to entering peace talks with the coalition. The younger Haqqani is reputedly the strongest commander in eastern Afghanistan, and has the support of large numbers of Arab fighters who oppose negotiating with coalition forces absent a total withdrawal, and Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.