In a major blow to the Taliban ranks, one of its key commanders Qari Salahuddin Ayubi has cut off ties with it. The incident has once again exposed the internal rift within the Taliban.
Sources have informed The Pamphlet that, “Commander Salahuddin Ayubi left Kabul and went to his hometown in northern Faryab province, and he will not return to work with the Taliban until the group is serious about building an inclusive government as well as giving full rights to women.”
Ayubi is of Uzbek origin and is also known as the “Conqueror of the North”. He is one of the most powerful Taliban commanders in the north of Afghanistan. He played an important role in the fall of eight northern provinces of Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2021.
Sources close to Ayubi have informed that the commander has cut off relations with the Taliban government as a protest over the monopoly which the Taliban enjoys on power and over different tribes in Afghanistan.
Ayubi was dissatisfied with the failure of the Taliban regime to introduce reforms so as to make it an inclusive government.
Earlier, Salahuddin Ayubi was dismissed from the position of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Public Affairs. However, he did not accept this new position.
The internal dissent in the Taliban has been evident from the time the organization took over Kabul. Tensions have aroused between the Taliban fighters and the ethnic Uzbek, Turkmen, and Tajik communities who mainly reside in northern Afghanistan.
Commander Ayubi has now moved to his hometown Faryab which have earlier this year seen protests erupting over the arrest of a local commander by the Taliban.
Makhdum Alem (Makhdum Mohammad Alem Rabbani) was a local Taliban commander in Faryab Province, which borders Turkmenistan.
On 12th January 2022, Alem was arrested by the Taliban on the suspicion that Alem was involved in Kidnapping. Alem was an ethnic Uzbek, who was working to secure the loyalty of the local ethnic group(Uzbeks) towards the Taliban regime.
Protestors(mostly Uzbeks) marched in the streets over Alem’s arrest. To ease the tension, the Taliban invited another prominent commander Qari Wakil (who was an ethnic Tajik) for mediation. However, Wakil was also arrested on unknown grounds sparking the already heightened ethnic tensions.
The Taliban’s ruling regime by ethnicity is predominantly Pashtuns. The lack of representation in the government remains to be one of the concerns of the other ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
Research conducted by Afghan news daily Aamaj news noted that 84% of the current Taliban cabinet is of Pashtun origin whereas the Taliban as a whole is 96% Pashtun.
Commander Ayubi’s exit from the Taliban is indicative that despite concerns raised by other ethnic groups about lack of representation in the government, the Taliban leadership has not taken any measures regarding it. Hence, this internal feud within the Taliban will only widen in the coming time.