A report issued on January 20 by the United Nations claims Al-Qaeda continues to have “close and mutually beneficial” relations with the Taliban despite the latter group's holding talks with US negotiators in Doha to broker a peace deal.
The report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, which is responsible for tracking terrorist groups around the globe, says that Al-Qaeda supplies “resources and training in exchange for protection” from the Taliban.
The report points to a joint US-Afghan raid in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province in September as evidence for this observation.
Asim Umar, the first emir of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), and several other AQIS figures were killed in that operation, according to the report.
The monitoring group notes that the Taliban’s “shadow governor” for the district had “arranged for the protection of AQIS’s men."
The report says that “Al-Qaeda and foreign terrorist fighters aligned with it, under the protection and influence of the Taliban, pose a long-term global threat."
The UN’s monitoring team states that Al-Qaeda “is concerned about the current focus of the Taliban leadership on peace talks.” And therefore Al-Qaeda “representatives undertook shuttle diplomacy, persuading various factions of the Taliban and field commanders not to support negotiations with the government of Afghanistan and promising to increase financial support.”
The Taliban and the US have held ten rounds of talks in Doha over the past year and the two sides are expected to sign a deal that will pave the way for a gradual withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
However, the US and NATO allies have stated that they are committed to preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists, and the Taliban links to Al-Qaeda and other groups could affect the US-Taliban agreement.