Mullah Mansour is dead. The man who replaced the evanescent Mullah Omar at the helm of the Taliban in July was killed Saturday afternoon by an American drone, while he was traveling in Pakistani Baluchistan. The Taliban still have not confirmed the news, but the most senior members of the U.S. administration and Afghan intelligence officials say they are confident. Mansour was killed because he was an obstacle to peace, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry from Myanmar, convinced that with Mansour gone, the Taliban will come to the negotiating table.
Born in 1960 in the southern province of Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold, Mansour was a former back-seat governor of his province and Minister of Civil Aviation and Transportation at the time of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Since 2013, Mansur was the de facto leader of the movement. Since then, he had re-established the primacy of the Quetta Shura militant group, one of the three main centers of Taliban power, above the Peshawar Shura and the Miran Shah (the Haqqani network). He marginalized the main antagonists, co-opted the undecided and gained control of much of the — decreasing — funding from traditional regional sponsors.
But in recent months Mansour had struggled to hold the reins of the movement. His appointment as the absolute leader in July was questioned by some Taliban, including the son of Mullah Omar, Yacub, who later decided to support him; Qayyum Zakir, the head of the Military Commission; and Tayyeb Aghha, who resigned his post as head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha in protest. All three now have the right credentials to succeed him.