Taliban bust-up at presidential palace in Afghanistan: What really happened

Friction between pragmatists and ideologues in the Taliban leadership has intensified since the group formed a hardline cabinet last week that is more in line with their harsh rule in the 1990s than their recent promises of inclusiveness.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's deputy leader and negotiator, and other delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow.(Reuters File Photo)
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's deputy leader and negotiator, and other delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow.(Reuters File Photo)
Published on Sep 16, 2021 07:14 AM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A report in the BBC has claimed that a massive brawl erupted between two factions of the Afghanistan administration at the presidential palace just days after they set up a new government in the country.

The report even claimed that leader of one of the factions, Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been killed. This was later denied by Baradar.

A look at what appears to have transpired

What was the brawl about?

The argument, according to the BBC report on the matter, appeared to centre around two primary causes of contention: Which faction did the most to secure victory over the United State and how power is to be divided up in the new Afghan cabinet.

The two sides involved

The brawl was between supporters of two rival and powerful factions within the Afghan administration:

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar: Deputy PM and the leader who signed the Doha agreement on behalf of the Taliban. He is believed to have fought the Soviets in the 80s side-by-side with the one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar, and was known to be one of his most trusted commanders. The two founded the Taliban in the early 1990s. He is believed to be unhappy about the structure of the interim government.

Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani: Minister for refugees and a prominent figure within the militant Haqqani network. He is the brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani network, which yields great power and influence within the Taliban. He is also the uncle of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new acting interior minister.

Baradar is said to be of the opinion that post-Taliban victory, the emphasis should be placed on diplomacy carried out by people like him, while members of the Haqqani group say it was achieved through fighting. The two leaders reportedly exchanged strong words during the argument, following which their followers fought with each other nearby, the BBC reported.

Rumours of Baradar's death

The rumours around the fallout between the two sides gained traction late last week with the disappearance of Baradar from public view. This led to speculation that he may have died in the brawl. However, the BBC, citing unnamed Taliban sources, said Baradar had left Kabul and travelled to the city of Kandahar following the row.

Baradar's faction released an audio recording of him on Monday, where the deputy PM said "he had been away on trips". "Wherever I am at the moment, we are all fine," he said.

The official Taliban line

Taliban insisted there were no arguments or clashes. However, the statements released around the reason for Baradar's absence from public view appear to be contradicting.

A Taliban spokesman first said Baradar had gone to Kandahar to meet the Taliban's elusive supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, but then when quizzed about by the BBC, the spokesperson said Baradar was "tired and wanted some rest".

The timing of the face-off

The timing of the alleged spat appears significance because it follows delays in announcement of the final government, which will replace the current caretaker government. There is also speculation that one of the key reasons for the spat was the role of each faction under the new government.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021