A UN report released on Friday states that the Taliban has failed to fulfill one of the core parts of the US-Taliban agreement, namely that it would break ties with al-Qaeda. The agreement was signed in February in Doha, Qatar, after months of negotiations.
Al-Qaeda has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country, according to the report.
“The Taliban regularly consulted with Al-Qaeda during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honor their historical ties,” the report states.
Al-Qaeda has "reacted positively" to the agreement, with statements from its adherents "celebrating it as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus for global militancy," the UN report said.
The US-Taliban agreement stated that the Taliban "will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies," and would not "cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies" and would prevent such groups "from recruiting, training, and fundraising."
The senior leadership of al-Qaeda remains present in Afghanistan, the report says, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with the Taliban.
A number of significant al-Qaeda figures were killed in Afghanistan during the reporting period, the report says.
Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani network and al-Qaeda "remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage," said the report.
The report also highlights Daesh’s subversive activities in the country, saying that the UN monitoring team now estimates that Daesh numbers are as low as 2,200 in Afghanistan.
The report says that Daesh "remains capable of mounting attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul," but some of those attacks claimed “may have arisen wholly or partly from a tactical accommodation with the Haqqani network."
The authors of the report argue that the Taliban’s credibility as a counter-terrorism partner for the international community will "rest on their success in countering the threat from Daesh’s Khorasan branch," in addition to their handling of any threat posed by al-Qaeda, the report says.
According to the report, the number of foreign terrorist fighters "in search of a purpose and livelihood" in Afghanistan, including "up to 6,500 Pakistanis," will "render this a complex challenge," which will require careful monitoring.
The report come as the Afghan government has expedited its efforts for peace by continuing to release Taliban prisoners from its prisons to move forward towards the intra-Afghan negotiations that Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said he hopes will begin in the next week.