Taliban Leader Willing to Step Down If Group Resolves Internal Differences

Monday, 06/17/2024

In an audio recording broadcast by Afghanistan's National Television, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada expressed concern over internal differences within the group during his Eid speech in Kandahar.

Akhundzada stated that he would be happy to step down from his position if the Taliban could resolve their differences.

In the 22-minute audio file, broadcast by Taliban-controlled Radio Television Afghanistan, Akhundzada primarily addressed his concerns about internal conflicts within the Taliban.

Akhundzada urged Taliban members to set aside their differences and turn enmity into friendship. He remarked, "Pharaoh tried to divide people into different groups and rule over them."

Akhundzada further stated that he could create discord among others and remove one group through another, but he refrains from doing so, considering the creation of divisions among people a "Pharaonic policy”.

Addressing the group members, he said that if they all came together one day and removed him from leadership, he would be pleased, but he does not want any discord among them.

Last week, the International Research Council for Religious Affairs (IRCRA) published a new study revealing that the Taliban is not a monolithic group and has various internal conflicts.

According to this Pakistani organisation, Taliban leaders and members have ideological, tribal, and organisational differences.

The study, released on June 10 by the International Research Council for Religious Affairs in Pakistan, shows that ideologically, there are differences between hardline Taliban and those who support a relatively moderate approach.

Researchers traveled to Afghanistan and interviewed dozens of Taliban officials, including Mullah Shirin, the group's governor in Kandahar and senior advisor to Hibatullah Akhundzada, as well as researchers and members of Afghan civil society.

The study also highlights intra-Pashtun differences within the Taliban. For example, it mentions conflicts between Kandahari and Paktika Taliban.

The report also notes that the disconnect between the Taliban's political leaders and field fighters has led to organisational differences among them.

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