Policy Research Papers
This paper aims to explore the direction that the Afghan Taliban Movement is most likely to take in the wake of the death of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and the revelation of Mullah Omar’s death before the death of the former. It examines these phenomena through looking at a set of organizational and contextual variables, and assesses whether the Taliban is likely to join the peace process initiated by the Afghan government, in the near future. The paper specifically addresses the following questions:
1. What factors led to the selection of Mullah Mansour as the supreme leader of the Taliban and selection of the Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada after the death of the former?
2. What are the opportunities and constraints for the Taliban posed by regional state and non-state actors, in the wake of recent developments (2015 and after)? How may these and the issues examined in question 1 affect the region and what happens in it; and vice versa: how might what happens in the region impact Afghanistan?
3. The paper addresses the political/soft power aspects of this issue, with reference specifically to the peace talks, beyond armed struggle; and briefly sets out the rationale for why this may become more important
The paper examines the structural factors involved in the selection of the new Taliban leaders and takes stock of the structure of opportunities and constraints – particularly on the regional level – to assess future direction of the insurgency.