For immediate release | Thursday, June 4, 2020

U.N. Report: Taliban Maintains Ties To Al-Qaeda

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Backchannel Consultations During Peace Talks Would Run Counter To Security Council Demands

(New York, N.Y.) –new report released by the United Nations (U.N.) last week revealed that the Taliban maintained routine consultations with al-Qaeda, despite the Taliban’s peace deal with the United States. According to the report, about 400 to 600 armed al-Qaeda operatives are stationed in Afghanistan. The February 29 peace agreement saw the Taliban agree to prevent al-Qaeda from operating in Afghanistan in order for U.S. troops to gradually withdraw from Afghanistan. Despite the conditions of the negotiations, the two extremist groups reportedly exchanged guarantees to honor their historic ties. Such an agreement would run counter to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1988, which demands the Taliban break ties with al-Qaeda, accept the Afghan constitution and renounce violence. The U.N. report also states that the Taliban and al-Qaeda held meetings throughout 2019 and early 2020 to discuss training and operational planning.

Al-Qaeda has long pledged allegiance to the Taliban, which provided sanctuary to al-Qaeda after the United States turned its military focus on the group following the 9/11 attacks. In June 2016, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reaffirmed al-Qaeda’s allegiance by publicly endorsing the Taliban’s new leader, Mullah Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada. While allied with the Taliban, al-Qaeda established several training camps in Afghanistan, including the sprawling Tarnak Farms, where Osama bin Laden allegedly plotted 9/11.

In February 2020, U.S. and Taliban negotiators reached a preliminary deal that demanded a reduction in violence from the insurgent camp in exchange for a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The United States agreed to draw its forces down from 13,000 to 8,600 in the next three to four months, with the remaining U.S. forces withdrawing in 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. The U.S. troop drawdown is dependent on the Taliban maintaining its commitments.

To read CEP’s Taliban resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Al-Qaeda resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Afghanistan resource, please click here.