Mullah Abdul Mannan Omari is a Taliban senior leader and the brother of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.Shafiq Ahmad, “Who's who in Taliban interim government?,” September 9, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/whos-who-in-taliban-interim-government/2360424. Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Omari was named minister for public works of the Taliban government.“Taliban forms 33-member cabinet in Afghanistan: Full list,” Hindustan Times, September 8, 2021, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/taliban-forms-33-member-cabinet-in-afghanistan-full-list-101631066722518.html.
An ethnic Pashtun from Kandahar, Omari was named the head of the Taliban’s preaching and guidance commission in 2016. As the head of the commission, Omari’s responsibilities included spreading the “goals of the Islamic Emirate” as well as actively countering both western forces and the Afghan government.Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, “Taliban’s government includes designated terrorists, ex-Guantanamo detainees,” Long War Journal, September 8, 2021, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2021/09/talibans-government-includes-designated-terrorists-ex-guantanamo-detainees.php.
Beginning in February 2019, the Taliban began peace negotiations with the United States, signing the Doha peace agreement with the U.S. government on February 29, 2020.Kathy Gannon, “Mullah’s rise charts Taliban’s long road back to power,” Associated Press, August 18, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-taliban-abdul-ghani-baradar-e80165eb6c65fc7ea8fae50212ba56c8; “Pullout and guarantees dominate talks with US: Taliban spokesman,” Al Jazeera, February 26, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/2/26/pullout-and-guarantees-dominate-talks-with-us-taliban-spokesman; Ayaz Gul, “Taliban Expects Peace Deal With US in Next Meeting,” Voice of America, July 31, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/a/south-central-asia_taliban-expects-peace-deal-us-next-meeting/6172955.html. Omari was among the Taliban’s negotiating team.Mushtaq Yusufzai, F. Brinley Bruton and Ahmed Mengli, “Taliban sends deputy leader to Qatar peace talks with the U.S.,” NBC News, February 25, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/taliban-sends-deputy-leader-qatar-peace-talks-u-s-n975581. The terms of the agreement stated that the United States would fully withdraw military troops from Afghanistan within the next 14 months. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to renounce al-Qaeda and prevent al-Qaeda and other groups from using Afghanistan as a base for terrorism against the United States. The Taliban also agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with other Afghan militants and the Afghan government.Asad Hashim, “Pakistan warns US of ‘spoilers’ on US-Taliban deal in Afghanistan,” Al Jazeera, March 1, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/pakistan-warns-spoilers-taliban-deal-afghanistan-200302093650382.html; Matthew Lee and Kathy Gannon, “US and Taliban sign deal aimed at ending war in Afghanistan,” Associated Press, February 29, 2020, https://apnews.com/491544713df4879f399d0ff5523d369e; “Susannah George and Dan Lamothe, “Afghan government objects to elements of U.S.-Taliban peace deal,” Washington Post, March 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-government-questions-aspects-of-us-taliban-peace-deal/2020/03/01/0a973228-5a68-11ea-8efd-0f904bdd8057_story.html. In September 2020, the Taliban began negotiations with the Afghan government to establish a more secure and cooperative future for Afghanistan.Susannah George, Aziz Tassal, and Haq Nawaz Khan, “Shadow politicians, clerics and Soviet-era fighters: The Taliban’s team negotiating peace,” Washington Post, September 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-taliban-peace-talks/2020/09/30/a5333540-f859-11ea-85f7-5941188a98cd_story.html. Omari, as well as key members of the Haqqani network, were members of the Taliban delegation in those negotiations.Jyoti Malhotra, “As Taliban-Afghan govt talk peace, lessons from an Afghan hero killed 19 years ago,” The Print, September 15, 2020, https://theprint.in/world/as-taliban-afghan-govt-talk-peace-lessons-from-an-afghan-hero-killed-19-years-ago/502500/. However, the talks were continually stalled and did not lead to an eventual peace agreement.Susannah George, Aziz Tassal, and Haq Nawaz Khan, “Shadow politicians, clerics and Soviet-era fighters: The Taliban’s team negotiating peace,” Washington Post, September 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-taliban-peace-talks/2020/09/30/a5333540-f859-11ea-85f7-5941188a98cd_story.html.
The Taliban began its offensive against major Afghan cities on August 6, 2021.Susannah George and Ezzatullah Mehrdad, “Taliban fighters overrun an Afghan provincial capital for the first time since withdrawal of foreign forces,” Washington Post, August 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/06/afghanistan-taliban-nimruz/. On August 15, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan and thousands of Afghans poured into Kabul’s airport as Taliban fighters entered the city. By August 16, the Taliban laid siege to the presidential palace and took complete control of Kabul, declaring the war in Afghanistan had ended.Rahim Faiez, and Joseph Krauss, “Taliban sweep across Afghanistan’s south; take 4 more cities,” Associated Press, August 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-taliban-c6c8d4a41c554f36031a8131538d1402. The last U.S. troops flew out of Kabul on August 30, 2021, ending a 20-year war that took the lives of 2,500 American troops and 240,000 Afghans and cost about $2 trillion.Peter Baker, “All in or All Out? Biden Saw No Middle Ground in Afghanistan.,” New York Times, September 1, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/28/us/politics/trump-taliban-biden-afghanistan.html; Nancy A. Youssef and Gordon Lubold, “Last U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan After Nearly 20 Years,” Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/last-u-s-troops-leave-afghanistan-after-nearly-20-years-11630355853. The Taliban has claimed that it would take on a more “moderate” approach in their ruling of the country, and that women are allowed to have roles in public life in observance of “Islamic law.”“Factbox: Taliban seek to present a moderate face as they take control in Afghanistan,” Reuters, August 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-seek-present-moderate-face-they-take-control-afghanistan-2021-08-15/.
On September 7, 2021, the Taliban announced the official appointments within their caretaker government. Omari was appointed minister for public works.“Taliban forms 33-member cabinet in Afghanistan: Full list,” Hindustan Times, September 8, 2021, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/taliban-forms-33-member-cabinet-in-afghanistan-full-list-101631066722518.html. The government is exclusively male, with many positions filled with veterans from their hardline movement in the early nineties.Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek, “Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts,” New York Times, September 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/world/asia/taliban-women-protest-kabul-afghanistan.html; Kathy Gannon, “Taliban form all-male Afghan government of old guard members,” Associated Press, September 8, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-pakistan-afghanistan-arrests-islamabad-d50b1b490d27d32eb20cc11b77c12c87.