Weeks after announcing their intention to vote on a new leader, the breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban has appointed Mullah Rasool to the post, setting him up as the opposition to leader Mullah Mansour, voted in by the organization’s Quetta Shura.
Though Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder, had been dead for years, it was only after the Afghan government announced that fact publicly that the Quetta Shura voted on a new leader, naming Mullah Mansour in a vote that sparked a lot of resentment, including from Mullah Omar’s children.
Recent Taliban gains have strengthened Mansour’s position, and the appointment of Mullah Rasool as his official rival seems to be an effort by the opposition to get more organized, to stem the growing risk that they’ll be outright irrelevant.
Rasool served as the governor of Nimroz before the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, and despite being called a “mullah” in Taliban statements is not believed to be a religious scholar. He says his goal in his new leadership position is to convince Mullah Mansour to resign, which seems a lofty ambition.