Afghan President’s Departure Paves Path Of Power For Taliban Leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

(Photo by BANARAS KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Kevin Tober Contributor
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Afghanistan’s president appears to have relinquished power to the Taliban after fleeing the country, providing a pathway for Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Born in Uruzgan province in 1968 Baradar was a member of the Afghan mujahideen “freedom fighters” in the 1980s during the battle over control of Afghanistan with the Soviet Union. After the Soviets were driven from Afghanistan, the power vacuum led to civil war between different factions.

Baradar went to Kandahar in 1992 to form the Taliban with one of his war commanders and alleged brother-in-law, Mohammad Omar. In 1996, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. While Mullah Omar was the leader of the Taliban, Baradar was considered an effective military strategist, and was the architect of the Taliban’s rise to power. In 2001, when the Taliban was ousted from Afghanistan, Baradar acted as the deputy minister of defense.

After the Taliban’s ouster, Baradar was viewed by diplomats in the West, including the U.S. as a key player in the Quetta Shura, which was an organization formed by ousted leaders of the Taliban.

The Obama administration feared his effective use of military tactics and strategy during his ouster from power. Baradar was captured in 2010 during a raid on a madrassa near Karachi by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. By 2018, the Trump administration’s Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad requested the Pakistan government to release him so that he could help negotiate with the Qatar government, as well as a power-sharing agreement with the U.S. in Afghanistan.

Former president Ashraf Ghani joined thousands of his fellow citizens in leaving the war-torn country in order to avoid the Taliban.

Ghani’s departure opens the door for the Taliban’s takeover; in the meantime Ail Ahmad Jalali, a former U.S. academic leads the interim Afghan government.

The Taliban has since invaded the capital, and an official associated with the organization said that they would be making an announcement from the presidential palace of the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which was the name of the country under Taliban rule prior to their ouster by U.S. led forces in the aftermath of 9/11.

Despite the Taliban promising that the transition of power would be peaceful, the U.S. Embassy has suspended operations and has issued a warning to Americans in the country to shelter in place, and not to travel to the airport. Commercial flights have been suspended after reports of gunfire at the airport, according to two senior U.S. military officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. (RELATED: Taliban Reaches Kabul, Reportedly Plan To Declare ‘Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan’)

Despite the rapidly deteriorating situation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected comparisons to the U.S.’ withdrawal from Vietnam, in the aftermath of military helicopters landing in the Kabul embassy to rescue diplomats to safety.