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Afghanistan: The Taliban in Conflict

Highlights • According to a Taliban spokesman, Mansoor Dadullah has been sacked as a commander • Dadullah claims that there is a conspiracy to remove him from power • The latest dispute is evidence of a growing leadership turmoil within the Taliban On December 28, 2007, Taliban spokesman Zadihullah Mujahed said that leader Mullah Mohammad Omar issued a statement sacking Taliban commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah. Mullah Dadullah is the top commander in southern Afghanistan and rose to prominence succeeding his brother Mullah Dadullah when he was killed in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strike in May 2007. According to Mujahed, Mansoor Dadullah had been removed from the Islamic militia for, “disobeying orders” and conducting activities “against the Taliban’s rules and regulations.” However, immediately after the statement by Mujahed dismissing Dadullah, the Taliban commander stated that he believed that Mullah Omar had not signed off on the dismissal order, and blamed the report as a conspiracy by his enemies. A Possible Conspiracy Mansoor Dadullah wasted little time denying that Taliban leader Mullah Omar sacked him. Media reports indicate Dadullah stated via telephone, “It’s not true that Mullah Omar kicked me out of the Taliban. If Mullah Omar wanted me to leave the Taliban, then he would send me the message and I would put down my weapons because he is our top commander.” Dadullah is blaming the latest news of his dismissal on a conspiracy created by his enemies, primarily those within the Taliban. Mansoor Dadullah stated that he would disarm if Omar truly wanted him to, and is believed to be attempting to contact Mullah Omar to discuss his possible dismissal. The reason Dadullah believes it is a conspiracy is because of the nature of how the news of his dismissal was released. He largely believes that if Omar wanted him gone, he would have sent a private message rather than publishing it in the media. According to Muhibullah Mahajir, a spokesman for Mansoor Dadullah, he believes that some Taliban commanders were responsible for his brother’s death, and it is likely the same commanders are promoting his ouster. Thus far, a direct explanation from Taliban leader Mullah Omar has yet to be released, which is causing leadership turmoil within the group over Dadullah’s future role. Secret Talks In Musa Qala According to Assadullah Wafa, governor of the war torn southern province of Helmand, British intelligence officers were involved in high-level talks with Mansoor Dadullah in an attempt to produce a tribal revolt. Dadullah’s forces have been a tough adversary against the British and the commander claims to command 25,000 battle-hardened fighters. Two British diplomats, who were believed to be involved in the meetings, have recently been expelled from the country for holding meetings with Dadullah. The two diplomats, as well as Dadullah deny the meetings ever took place. However, only days after the purported meetings took place, the news of Dadullah’s sacking was published. While Taliban spokesman Zadihullah Mujahed wasn’t specific on the dismissal, his reference to “disobeying orders” could be the fact Dadullah met with British intelligence officers. If this is true, it could represent a factional split within the Taliban between top Taliban commanders, which may likely only be solved by the intervention of Mullah Omar who thus far has kept quiet. Future Outlook While it is currently unknown whether Taliban leader Mullah Omar dismissed Mansoor Dadullah, the latest statement by Mujahed claiming Omar dismissed him is evidence of at least some kind of friction within the Taliban leadership. However, just how deep the split within the leadership is currently unknown. The episode has drawn fresh

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