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Al-Qaeda has agreed to conceal presence in Afghanistan till US maintains troops: Expert

ANI | Updated: Nov 10, 2020 16:29 IST


Kabul [Afghanistan], November 10 (ANI): Al-Qaeda's recent silence on violence being perpetrated in Afghanistan is an agreed strategy to conceal its presence in the country to facilitate the US-Taliban peace deal, according to the geopolitical analyst Abdul Sayed.
Writing for Asia Times, Sayed argued that many experts believe that a US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will restore the Taliban to power and revert the country back to Islamist militancy.
He writes that Al-Qaeda has adopted this strategy to remain quiet, keeping in mind the "key clause" in the United States' peace deal with Afghanistan's Taliban is a commitment to disallow any militant group from using Afghan soil to plot against America and its allies.
However, the geopolitical expert says that "Taliban is merely pretending that its long-time ally al-Qaeda no longer maintains bases and fighters in the areas it controls in Afghanistan just to appease the US and withdraw its troops from the country?"
Sayed writes that Taliban's action is contrary to the Afghan peace deal that was brokered by the US in February this year, in which the Taliban agreed not to shelter terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and to sever ties with the other such groups.
The report in the Asia Times further states that "...a departure (of US from Afghanistan) that some speculate could pave the way for the Taliban's eventual return to power. There are now around 5,000 US troops in the country, a number that will fall to 2,500 by early 2021."
Sayed further said that despite Taliban's denial about al-Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan, most credible reports about its existence come from the United Nations Security Council's sanction committee team monitoring al-Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS) and the Taliban.

These reports have claimed that the Taliban maintains close ties with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, even after the US-Taliban deal announced on February 29, 2020.
"The latest such claim came from the coordinator of the UN's monitoring team, Edmund Fitton-Brown, who stated in a recent online seminar about Afghanistan's future that the Taliban keeps close contact with al-Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, the terror group's Egyptian leader," Sayed said.
Supporting Sayed's arguments, UN Monitoring Team Coordinator Fitton-Brown has claimed that the Taliban regularly consulted al-Qaeda during their negotiations with the US.
The diplomat even claimed that the Taliban offered "informal guarantees" to al-Qaeda to honour their close historical ties. However, the Taliban and its sympathizers have said such claims, saying they are a conspiracy to sabotage the US-Taliban deal.
Talking about the setting up of AQIS, the regional South Asian branch of al-Qaida, Sayed said that this can be seen as part of al-Qaeda's wider strategy for driving America's withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"As al-Qaeda's history shows, the terror group was never seriously involved in the Kashmir conflict, although it did have pre-9/11 close ties with certain Kashmir-based jihadist groups. Instead, it absorbed Kashmiri jihadists into its ranks, utilizing them for its global goals," he said.
Sayed concludes by saying that "Al-Qaeda's attempt to establish an indirect symbolic presence in Kashmir likely really aims to divert attention away from its enduring presence in Afghanistan, contrary to the terms of the Taliban's deal with the US."
Furthermore, he states that the Taliban is still al-Qaeda's "most vital strategic partner" in the region. (ANI)

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