Omar death a 'recruitment bonanza for IS'

Updated - July 30, 2015 01:51 am IST

Published - July 30, 2015 01:29 am IST - Washington

If Wednesday’s reporting suggesting that Taliban boss Mullah Omar had died turned out to be true, then it may well raise more questions than it answers about the future of the peace process in the region concomitant with the rise of jihadist militants Islamic State and the machinations of Pakistan.

While the Taliban was yet to issue a statement on the claim, “Omar’s death would have numerous troubling implications,” said Michael Kugelman, Senior Associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre here.

Mr. Kugelman noted that this could cause “festering tensions within the Taliban to explode, leading to bloody infighting and violent intra-organisation spats as different factions stake their claim for leadership.”

Given that such an acute, deepening leadership crisis may reduce the momentum of the peace process underway, “that will allow the Taliban turn its attention back to the battlefield, where it is already scoring major victories,” Mr. Kugelman said to The Hindu.

In terms of the broader ripple effects Omar’s death “could lead to a huge recruitment bonanza for Islamic State in the region,” Mr. Kugelman argued, and IS had already earned the support of disaffected Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan frustrated by the long silence of the leader that has united them all.

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