Slowly and Carefully, the Taliban Are Reining in Jihadists

Slowly and Carefully, the Taliban Are Reining in Jihadists
A Taliban commander rests at a check point in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 7, 2023 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

In early July, U.S. President Joe Biden stirred controversy by stating that al-Qaida no longer has a presence in Afghanistan—thanks, he suggested, to the Taliban. Responding to a question about a recently released State Department report that was critical of his administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden replied, “Remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said al-Qaida would not be there. … I said we’d get help from the Taliban.” He then added, “What’s happening now? … I was right.”

The Taliban predictably applauded Biden’s statement. But others pointed out that it contradicted a United Nations report issued in February, which stated that “ties between Al-Qaida and the Taliban remain close, as underscored by the regional presence of Al-Qaida core leadership.” Moreover, a more recent report released in June by the same U.N. monitoring team included a claim made by an unnamed U.N. member state that the successor to Ayman al-Zawahiri as al-Qaida’s de facto leader, Saif al-Adel, has recently moved from Iran to Afghanistan. The June report also described the relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaida as “symbiotic.”

However, this time again, U.S. officials quickly disputed both claims, with one saying that al-Qaida “simply has not reconstituted a presence in Afghanistan since the U.S. departure in August 2021.” How are we to make sense of these conflicting characterizations?

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review