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Abdul Baradar

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Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is a senior official, possibly the #2 in its hierarchy and the operational commander, of the Quetta shura branch of the Taliban, with allegiance to Mullah Omar, his brother-in-law. They are members of the Popalzai clan of the Pashtun people. Baradar was born in the village of Deh Rawud.[1]

He was captured, in Karachi, Pakistan, by what has been called unprecedented cooperation between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. [2] Some sources, however, suggest variously that the capture was a lucky accident, or part of even more complex Pakistan-US dynamics.

Role

In 2005, he was reported as commanding Taliban military in Pashtun areas, with deputies "Akhtar Muhammad Osmani, an ex-governor of Uruzgan province; Mullah Dadullah, who took part in military operations against the Northern Alliance in Kunduz in October 2001; and Abdurrazak, a former Minister of the Interior in the Taliban government."[1]

He has been a contact for the Western press. Baradar had responded to questions sent to him by Newsweek in July 2009.[3] He insisted they operated completely inside Afghanistan, and were not in Quetta. Explaining he welcomed additional U.S. troops, he said "In fact, Americans are demoralized in Afghanistan, and they don't know what to do. [The Taliban] want to inflict maximum losses on the Americans, which is possible only when the Americans are present here in large numbers and come out of their fortified places."

In a 2008 article, Newsweek quoted a Taliban source who questioned if Baradar had taken control from his brother-in-law, Mullah Omar. It also mentioned that Baradar had replaced four rivals, two by the U.S., including Dadullah Akhund in 2007. Ahkund had been military commander. Pakistani forces arrested another in early 2007. Akhund's brother, Mullah Mansoor Dadullah but was fired by Baradar. The article suggested that Baradar might have leaked information on the rivals, who were all of the Kakul clan, to Pakistan and the U.S. [4]

Capture

U.S. sources told the New York Times that Baradar's capture, in late January 2010, had been a "lucky accident" in what was indeed a joint ISI-CIA operation, but that had not explicitly targeted Baradar. They quoted Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, who had advised the Obama Administration, about the sensitivity of the interrogations. "The Pakistanis have a delicate problem with Baradar. If I were in their shoes, I’d be worried that he might reveal something embarrassing about relations between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani government or Inter-Services Intelligence." Riedel considered it, however, a net benefit for Pakistan: "I believe the Pakistanis have finally concluded that the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan Taliban were cooperating against them in Waziristan and elsewhere."[5]

The Times of India speculated that Baradar had both stopped accepting clandestine Pakistani guidance, and also, in opposition to Pakistani policy, was considering reconciliation negotiations with the Karzai government of Afghanistan. They quoted Ahmed Rashid, considered by many as the leading expert on the Taliban, as suggesting that the Pakistani role in the capture was intended to send a message both to the Taliban and U.S.
If there’s going to be any talks or dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban, Pakistan will have to be the main broker or mediator... you know, ‘don’t go into talks without telling us, because we (the Pakistanis) are the key players here’ [6]

Indian analysts suggested that Pakistan had acted both due to immense pressure from the U.S., and because the Quetta shura organization was moving to the much more critical city of Karachi, from which India could benefit. The latter point frames Pakistani action in Afghanistan and against the Taliban in terms of what most consider their more strategic concernn.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Victor Korgun (5 May 2005), "Afghanistan's Resurgent Taliban", Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation
  2. Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins (February 16, 2010), "Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander", New York Times
  3. "Mullah Baradar: In His Own Words", Newsweek, 25 July 2009
  4. Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau (1 November 2009), "Taliban Two-Step: Can’t Sit Down Yet", Newsweek
  5. Scott Shane and Eric Schmitt (19 February 2010), "In Pakistan Raid, Taliban Chief Was an Extra Prize", New York Times
  6. "Pak crackdown on Taliban with eye on Af role?", Times of India, 20 February 2010