Afghanistan Falls Under New Leadership After Takeover

Afghanistan Falls Under New Leadership After Takeover

( – It took Taliban fighters less than two weeks to sweep across Afghanistan and take control of the embattled country in the wake of the withdrawal of US troops. By August 8, they had taken control of the capital of Kunduz province, and a few days later, they took over Herat, Kandahar, and Lashkar. Finally, on Sunday, August 15, they seized the presidential palace in Kabul, the remaining Afghan stronghold.

Two days later, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid appeared before a group of international reporters in Kabul for the extremist group’s first official press conference. He declined to discuss specifics about Afghanistan’s future. According to a report from The New York Times, he said “serious talks” were underway to determine the shape of the country’s new government.

Only a few of the Taliban leaders who ruled Afghanistan before the start of the American occupation of the country in 2001 are still alive or in power. For that reason, it’s unclear who might lead the country. However, three known Taliban leaders stand out as possibilities.

Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada

Akhundzada is the current Supreme Leader of the Taliban. He was likely born in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province sometime between 1959 and 1961. He participated in the resistance against the military campaigns the former Soviet Union led in the 1980s and headed up the Sharia Courts throughout the 1990s.

We don’t know much about Akhundzada. He prefers to operate in the shadows and reportedly does not relay his instructions to subordinates in his own handwriting. Concerned about the possibility of assassination, he rarely makes public appearances. As a result, some people have questioned if he’s even a real person.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

Baradar heads the Taliban’s political office in Doha. He is one of the four founders of the Afghan Taliban and has operated as the lynchpin of the insurgency since US forces brought down the organization’s regime in 2001.

A joint operation by US and Pakistan troops captured Baradar in February 2010. He remained in custody until 2018, when US officials requested his release to serve as lead negotiator in the recent peace talks.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob

Yaqoob is the son of Taliban co-founder Mullah Mohammad Omar. We know very little about him, and no known photographs of him exist. He is probably around 30 years old and rose to prominence in the group after the 2013 death of his father. Some experts consider him a moderate.

Reportedly, Yaqoob urged Taliban fighters not to harm Afghan government members or soldiers during the recent struggle to gain control of the country. He also asked Taliban troops to ensure marketplaces and businesses remain open.

The exact organization of the new government remains unknown and might remain so for some time, considering the Taliban’s history of secrecy. We will update you as more information becomes available.

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