Category Archives: Publications & Blogs

Ready for Peace? The Afghan Taliban after a Decade of War -RUSI Paper

By Theo Farrell and Michael Semple                              https://rusi.org         Copy of the Post in PDF

 

Despite high-profile success on the battlefield, interviews with Taliban personnel reveal substantial discord within the group.

This briefing paper argues that:

  • The Taliban movement is in disarray. The new leader, Maulawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, is widely viewed as weak and ineffective.
  • Several factions within the Taliban are vying for power. The Mansour network, which is based in Helmand and claims to be backed by Iran and Russia, has risen to become the most dynamic ….  Read more on Rusi.org

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Top priorities for Haibatullah, new Afghan Taliban leader

(CNN)In the year that he openly led the Afghan Taliban Movement, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who was killed by a U.S drone strike Saturday, proved to be a consummate political actor.

After seizing power in a rapidly summoned conclave, he proceeded to consolidate his hold over the movement, deflect attempts by the pro-Taliban clergy (ulema) to question his authority, co-opt or eliminate dissidents, renew the Taliban’s war strategy and defy all efforts to maneuver the Taliban into peace negotiations.
To achieve all of this, Mansour drew on a rich repertoire of stratagems.

Photos: Scene from reported strike on Taliban leaders

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The Taliban replaces its dead leader – and prepares for some tricky internal politics

The May 21 drone strike that killed Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansoorwas no ordinary assassination; it was an act of armed politics against an acutely political war strategist. The

The scene of the drone strike said to have killed the Taliban’s leader. EPA

Taliban has already named Mansoor’s successor, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, and is reassuring its members that the status quo will endure – but Mansoor

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11 rebels join peace process in Herat

HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): Nearly a dozen militants on Wednesday joined the peace process in western Herat province, an official said.

Local officials said the reconciling militants had been active against the government in Guzra district.

They laid down their weapons in the presence of the governor and promised partaking in improving the security situation of the province.

Governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi told a ceremony welcoming the former fighters that all rebels should shun insurgency and return to a normal life.

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Rhetoric, Ideology and Organizational Structure of the Taliban Movement

Published: January 5, 2015                         http://www.usip.org
By: Michael Semple                                   Copy of the Post in PDF

This report examines the evolution of the Taliban case for armed struggle and the minimal adjustments Taliban rhetoricians made to cope with the impending political change in Afghanistan in 2014. It considers how the Taliban might make a case for peace, should they take the political decision to engage in negotiations.

Summary

  • The Taliban movement commands the loyalty of thousands of Afghans and applies resources and men to the pursuit of political objectives, guided by doctrine and inspired by rhetoric.
  • Taliban rhetoric consists of religious and historical references, narratives of recent events, and guidance for Taliban sympathizers.
  • The rhetoric asserts that the Taliban are engaged in a righteous jihad aimed at establishing a divinely ordered Islamic system in Afghanistan.
  • Taliban doctrine focuses on internal affairs and in particular on maintaining cohesiveness. The Taliban are ruthless in enforcing their doctrine of obedience to the amir, or leader.
  • The movement has retained a narrow social base, and its power is concentrated in the hands of mullahs from the Kandahari Pashtun tribes.
  • Any project to build a plural Afghanistan is likely to include an appeal to the Taliban or the constituency they have mobilized.

Black flags and balaclavas: how jihadists dress for imaginary war

Source Link:   Author: Michael SempleQueen’s University Belfast

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The first thing that I noticed in the gruesome pictures of two gunmen fleeing the scene of their attack on Charlie Hebdo was that the men were dressed from head to toe in black.

It might sound strange, but terrorist couture is a surprisingly relevant detail from which to start making sense of what happened in Paris, and how it connects to other acts of jihadi terrorism worldwide.

The attackers dressed to look like members of a paramilitary force not to trick their way through a security check, but to symbolise their belonging to an army – albeit an imagined one.

Former UN Adviser Talks Taliban’s Future

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RFE/RL: What is your assessment of Tehrik-e Taliban (TTP) Pakistan after they claimed this week’s horrific attack in Peshawar, massacring some 150 schoolchildren and teachers?

Michael Semple, a former UN and EU adviser in Afghanistan, has studied the Taliban since their emergence in the 1990s. The Irish academic sees the Pakistani Taliban fragmenting into armed criminal gangs while the organizationally strong Afghan Taliban is likely to find peace with Kabul because of their fear of irrelevance.

Michael Semple: The TTP in December 2014 is much weaker than it was before the North Waziristan operation began back in June. As well as having lost its bases, it has suffered multiple leadership challenges and fragmentation. However, most of the key TTP commanders are still in business. They say they are still determined to wage their version of jihad, and the dreadful attack in Peshawar is an expression of that. It is an attack from a position of weakness rather than of strength.

Explainer: who are the Pakistani Taliban?

By Michael Semple, Queen’s University Belfast

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 130 children. The militants planned the

A scene of devastation after the Taliban attack in Peshawar. EPA/Bilawal Arbab

massacre to take revenge on the Pakistan army. They murdered the children of their enemy.

By executing these children, the attackers took Pakistan’s violence past a dreadful milestone. But the background to this massacre is a conflict spanning the frontier of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s a conflict that has dragged on for more than a decade.

The Pakistan Taliban Movement: An Appraisal

The Pakistan Taliban Movement: An AppraisalPolicy Research Papers
November 2014

In October 2014 the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) announced his movement’s backing for the “Islamic State” (IS) and its efforts to re-establish the Caliphate. The spokesman pledged that the Taliban would align their efforts with the Islamic State by sending fighters and military experts more…

 

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Aafia Siddiqui: the Pakistani female scientist ‘on Isil’s list of demands’

Reports Isil demanded the release of a female scientist jailed for attempted murder suggest the group is trying to build support for Isil in Pakistan and Afghanistan

By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor

12:37PM BST 21 Aug 2014 on telegraph.co.uk

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) reportedly called for the release of a female Pakistani scientist with ties to al-Qaeda in exchange for

Aafia Siddiqui and U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff

James Foley.

According to the New York Times, Isil sent through a “laundry list” of demands to the United States which included the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist currently incarcerated in a prison in Texas.

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