ISLAMABAD: Taliban supreme leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada has appointed Mullah Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, as head of the movement’s military commission, two Taliban officials confirmed on Sunday.
The appointment of Yaqoob to the top post last month-- a young commander in his early 30’s-- comes at a time the Taliban leadership has continued its war on Afghan government forces despite a peace deal signed with the United States in February.
“The chairmanship of the military commission has been given to Maulvi Yaqoob, who will also continue as deputy of the Islamic Emirate. The ‘amir ul momineen’ (commander of the faithful) Sheikh Haibatullah has appointed him as head of the military commission,” a senior Taliban leader, who did not want to be identified, told Arab News.
Yaqoob, Mullah Omar’s eldest son, was schooled in different religious schools in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.
The military commission of Taliban was a single entity until the death of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in 2015 in a US drone strike in Balochistan. Later, the commission was divided into two zones — southern and eastern-- to address security concerns and coordination issues for military commanders seeking permission for operations.
“There was a need to merge both the military zones to strengthen the military commission. Now Maulvi Yaqoob will head the commission and Sadar Ibrahim and Abdul Qayyum Zakir, two senior military leaders, will work as his deputies and will also lead the commission in southwestern zone and eastern zone respectively,” the Taliban leader said.
Former Guantanamo detainee Zakir once headed the military commission, while Sadar led military affairs in the southern provinces.
Prominent Kabul-based political commentator, Zakir Jalali, believes the appointment of Yaqoob will create understanding and coordination between political and military commissions at a time when the stage is set for intra-Afghan dialogue in the country.
“Taliban political role will increase with the opening of the negotiations involving Afghans to decide the country’s political future. Maulvi Yaqoob was basically a political personality but his appointment as military chief could be an attempt by the Taliban leadership to increase coordination between the military and political commissions,” Jalali told Arab News on Sunday.
“As the Taliban will have an enhanced political role in the near future, there was a need for understanding between the leadership and the political commission,” he added.