Facing growing pressure from a fledgling ISIS affiliate, Afghanistan’s long-standing Islamist group the Taliban is struggling to remain united, with a pair of commanders quoted in NBC News as saying there is a growing three-way split among the faction’s leadership.
“The Afghan Taliban who want to continue to fight are led by Mullah Omar,” the commander claimed, saying there was also a group that had already defected to ISIS and were fighting alongside them, and a third group that is pushing to see peace talks with the Afghan government.
It’s unclear how serious this split is, or how new. There has been a long-standing split along the question of diplomacy, with Mullah Omar long demanding a NATO pullout before the beginning of diplomacy. The defectors to ISIS are relatively new, but it is unclear how big they are.
Despite this split, there is no sign that the Taliban’s spring offensive is being effected, and the only visible sign from without on the split is intermittent fighting between them and an ISIS force. The Taliban remains able to muster a formidable force against the Afghan military.