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Is the Taliban Making a Pledge It Cannot Keep?

Militant Organizations Won’t Stop Using Afghan Territory for Terrorism

U.S. soldiers on a mission in Afghanistan, January 2019 U.S. Army / REUTERS

In Doha in late January, the United States and the Afghan Taliban agreed in principle to the contours of a peace deal. Under its terms, the Taliban would guarantee that Afghan territory will never be used by terrorists. The concession is critical to the United States, but while some commentators have heralded the Taliban’s promise as a major breakthrough, analysts have noted that the group has made, and failed to keep, similar assurances in the past. Questions remain about whether the Taliban is genuinely willing to break with al Qaeda—the very prospect at which the group balked back in 2001, prompting the United States to invade.

The terrorist landscape in South and Central Asia extends far beyond al Qaeda. The Taliban has been fighting the Islamic State’s affiliate in the region, the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK), inflicting serious losses without succeeding in eradicating this rival. Since 2002, the

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