The New York Times reports: In a compromise bid to unite the ranks after months of infighting, the Taliban’s new leader has appointed the brother and son of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the movement’s deceased founder, to senior leadership posts, a spokesman for the insurgent group said on Tuesday.
The appointments are the latest move by the supreme Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, to publicly consolidate his authority after a leadership struggle last summer.
Facing criticism or outright rebellion from field commanders who distrusted his ties to Pakistan and his handling of the succession, Mullah Mansour brutally quashed breakaway groups and sought to buy the support of other skeptical commanders, all while maintaining a publicity campaign that has portrayed the Taliban as united under his command, according to interviews with Taliban members. They spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid angering Mullah Mansour.
Now, the announcement that he had formally brought two of the most influential skeptics back into the fold — Mullah Abdul Manan, the brother of Mullah Omar; and Mullah Muhammad Yaqoub, the founder’s son — was expected to help bring other dissenters into line right as the Taliban’s annual offensive is expected to pick up momentum in Afghanistan. [Continue reading…]