Taliban to Follow Iran Model, Appoints Supreme Leader

Taliban members stand near a poster of their leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, in Kabul | Reuter file photo

Kabul: The Taliban are designing a government based on Iran’s model through appointing the group’s leader Hibatullah Akhundzada as the Supreme Leader of Afghanistan, news reports said on Tuesday.

While Iran has a president and a parliament, the Supreme Leader acts as a spiritual guide and jurist with powers to overrule laws if they violate constitution and clash with Islamic principles.

“Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada — who has never made a public appearance and whose whereabouts have largely remained unknown — will most likely be the Supreme Leader, presiding over a Supreme Council of 11 to 72,” CNN-News18 reported citing sources.

AFP reported that the Taliban and other Afghan leaders have reached a “consensus” on the formation of a new government and cabinet under the leadership of Akhundzada.

Supreme Commander Haibatullah Akhundzada will be the top leader of any governing council, Bilal Karimi, a member of the group’s cultural commission said Wednesday. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of Akhundzada’s three deputies and the main public face of the Taliban, is likely to be in charge of the daily functioning of the government, Karimi added.

“The consultations on forming an inclusive Afghan government within the Islamic Emirate’s leaders, with the leaders from previous government and other influential leaders have officially ended,” Karimi said. “They have reached a consensus. We’re about to announce a functioning cabinet and government in a few days, not weeks.”

Both Akhundzada and Baradar will soon make a public appearance in Kabul, the official added.

The US officially ended its longest war around midnight Monday Afghan time, a mission that began soon after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The mood among the Taliban has been jubilant following the exit of American troops but considerable challenges lie ahead as they now look to establish a functioning government. The new leaders will have to stave off an economic crisis after the US cut off aid and control spiraling inflation and also avoid a civil war with ethnic-based militias and a local off-shoot of the ISIS terror group.

Akhundzada is currently in the southern city of Kandahar, the group’s stronghold, where he led a three-day conference of top Taliban and other Afghan leaders, Zabihullah Mujahed, the group’s main spokesman had said Tuesday.

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