Why the Taliban cannot be separated from Al Qaeda

(H/T – Allahpundit, who asks the $64,000 question on why the “moderate” Taliban won’t give up Osama bin Laden)

Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn explain why we must defeat the Taliban, as well as the other affiliated Afghani insurgencies. In a nutshell:

  • All three of the main Afghani insurgent groups, the Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, have extensive personal leadership-to-leadership ties to Al Qaeda, established over decades of cultivation by Al Qaeda.
  • The relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban is so enduring that they still fight side-by-side in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and still offer mutual-praise eulogies for each other.
  • Al Qaeda still enjoys working relationships with both elements of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency and the Iranian leadership.

There is much more that deserves to be read. I will, however, leave you with the conclusion:

In conclusion, the war in Afghanistan is part of a multi-dimensional contest for power between, on the one hand, al Qaeda and its allies and, on the other, America and her allies. The idea that al Qaeda is a discrete organization that can be neatly separated from the Afghan insurgency is a fantasy. All three of the major branches of the insurgency, as well as their sponsors, are closely allied with al Qaeda and have been for years.

Air strikes using drones are a valuable tool for disrupting al Qaeda’s external network, thereby hampering the terror network’s capacity to strike the West. But such strikes are a tactic, not a strategy. And, it should be noted, these strikes have frequently killed senior Taliban commanders as well. This only emphasizes the degree of cooperation between the Taliban and al Qaeda.

A more robust game plan for Afghanistan, and the region, is required. We understand that there is no immediate discussion of entirely drawing down America’s or NATO’s forces. But a more comprehensive commitment than that which is presently being employed is needed.

Should the insurgents conquer Afghanistan once again, there is no doubt that al Qaeda would return to its former safe haven. But that is, in some ways, the least of our concerns. Their return to power would be a victory for all of those forces that spawned al Qaeda in the first place.

Cross-posted at my regular home, No Runny Eggs.

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