Al-Zawahiri’s Death and Taliban Future

The Taliban did not react to the successful U.S drone strike killing Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Amir of Al-Qaeda, 300 meters from the presidential palace in Kabul. No reaction from the Taliban confirms that they were hosting and sheltering the world’s most wanted man. The only statement they have issued is similar to the one the Pakistani government released after a U.S. special forces raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, the founder and number one man of Al-Qaeda, next to Pakistan Military Academy Kakul Abbottabad in May 2011. The two statements called the CIA’s operations an act against their sovereignty and a violation of international laws. But none of the two could deny the U.S.’s claims of killing Osama and Ayman.

The State Department clearly stated that by hosting and sheltering the leader of al Qaeda in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries. According to the statement, the Taliban also betrayed the Afghan people and their stated desire for recognition from and normalization with the international community. The statement further said that in the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, America would continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially of women and girls.

The Taliban recently released statements that they would soon start diplomatic and business relations with Central-Asian countries and China. According to the statement released by the Taliban ministry of finance, China would invest in gas and other minerals in Juzjan province.

Hosting and sheltering the world’s most wanted terrorist, the Taliban has undoubtedly lost the only opportunity to tie the fragile relations with the Central-Asian countries and China. Their close links with Al-Qaeda, of course, threaten Central-Asian countries and China since Al-Qaeda has always had close ties with Turkistan Islamic Party or the Turkistan Islamic Movement, formally known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and other names, is a Uyghur Islamic extremist organization founded in Western China, which has been a significant threat to the Central-Asian countries and China.

Thirdly, the two major factions in the Taliban, namely, Akhunds and Haqqani Network, have had conflicts since they took over in August 2021. The discrepancy between the two was seen in the Taliban’s All-Male Meeting of Clerics in the first week of July 2022 when Haibatullah Akhundzada, Taliban supreme leader, addressed the gathering. Akhudzada, who had not been filmed or photographed in public, was broadcast on state radio, where he said the world should stop telling the Taliban how to run the country; they would not listen to the world even if the world would hit them with a nuclear bomb. He reportedly said that the Taliban don’t care if they are internationally recognized or not. Akhundzad also said that whoever had worked in the previous regime and/or I.R of Afghanistan can live in the country but shall not expect any dignity, “they don’t have any dignity, and no one is allowed to give them dignity or treat them with respect. We don’t need them, and no one is allowed to get them any public service jobs.” While Siraj Ud Din Haqqani, the head of Haqqani Network and Taliban’s interior minister, said that the Taliban should treat everyone with respect, avoid taunting the people worked in the I.R of Afghanistan; instead, they are assets, and Taliban should get benefited from their skills. He also said that they (the Taliban) need international recognition.

According to some reports and analyses, the only faction, Haqqani Network, was hosting and sheltering Al-Zawahiri and his family, while the other section, Akhunds, did not know about it. Sources say that Ameer Khan Mutaqi, the Taliban’s foreign minister, helped the Americans identify Al-Zawahiri’s residence. According to the sources, Mutaqi’s visit to Badakhshan last month was to inaugurate Tajikistan Tehreek Taliban (TTT) to fight against Tajikistan and neighboring countries (Central Asia). It analytically believed that Mutaqi, directly backed by Pakistan and not part of any of the two Taliban factions, is trying to gain American confidence.

In conclusion, severe discrepancies, disagreements, and disputes will arise between the factions, further weakening the Taliban and their so-called Islamic Emirate.

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