Al-Qaeda’s interactions with the Taliban have often been marked by mutual suspicion and mistrust, but both groups have adopted robust and ultimately successful approaches to manage these tensions. In particular, the relationship survived turbulent episodes from 2001 to 2011, and the two groups coordinated during the run-up to the Doha Agreement. This suggests that although al-Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban may remain fraught, it will endure. It is unclear whether the Taliban will allow the group to use Afghan territory to support transnational terrorist operations. But the Taliban will likely be unable or unwilling to constrain al-Qaeda’s regional and international ambitions, and therefore will probably be a highly unreliable partner in any effort mounted by outside powers to do so.
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Dr. Bryce Loidolt is a Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University.
The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.