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The Long, Complex & Dynamic Nature Of A Partnership!

The Taliban, who have returned to power in Afghanistan after 20 years, seemingly, are much interested in maintaining cordial ties with al-Qaeda. Top US officials recently analysed the relation between two terror outfits, and came to the conclusion that the Afghanistan-based group would not break with al-Qaeda in near future. According to the US officials, the Taliban are not stupid in preserving relations with al-Qaeda, as the same risky ties brought them down from Kabul two decades ago. However, the Taliban are also not stupid enough to sever ties with al-Qaeda either, especially when the benefits on the ground outweigh the risks.

The Every Morning Asia online portal has quoted a top US official as saying that the Taliban needs al-Qaeda for bureaucratic expertise. The logistical capabilities and international networking that al-Qaeda possess, fill a void inside the Taliban internal organisation. al-Qaeda has an advanced network of regrouping camps that allow the training of numerous fighters who can fill the Taliban rankings. Furthermore, al-Qaeda helped the Taliban regroup in Afghanistan during the confrontation with the US-led International Forces. When the Taliban were weak and needed allies, al-Qaeda were its most trusted friend. Now, the Taliban need al-Qaeda’s military and logistical capabilities in the fight against the Islamic State Khorasan.

The Taliban

The Taliban is a very complex organisation and during 20 years of conflict, al-Qaeda has strengthened ties with various subgroups within the Taliban, such as the Haqqani Network. The Taliban would risk breaking from the inside, if they decide to sever ties with al-Qaeda.

Taliban vs ISIS in Afghanistan

The Taliban would also risk losing its Ideological Legitimacy, if they break with al-Qaeda. There are ideological differences between the two, as al-Qaeda take their intellectual tradition from Wahabi Sunni Islam, while the Taliban are inclined towards Indian-originated Deobandi Sunni Islam. They both find the same religious purpose in promoting an authentic Political Islam. This is visible with the formation of a Taliban-led Government only with Taliban members (despite international pressure for a more diversified political office), in order to preserve its Ideological Purity.

Also, there is Pakistan. Both al-Qaeda and the Taliban need each other to have leverage against Pakistan, which occasionally arrests and interrogates members of both groups to ensure that they do not act against Islamabad’s strategic interests in South Asia.

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