Obama downplays Taliban alliance with al-Qaida

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s joint Jan. 10 announcement with Afghanistan’s president buried the admission that the Taliban has refused to end its ideological alliance with al-Qaida.

“As a part of the outcome of any [peace] process, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups must end violence, break ties with al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan’s constitution,” said the 1,368-word statement, which was released shortly before Obama held a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Despite repeated demands from Obama since 2009, the Taliban has not disassociated itself from its fellow jihadis in al-Qaida, even after U.S. forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001 following al-Qaida’s jihad attack in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

Their alliance is based on shared religious and ideological views, personal ties, beneficial military cooperation and a growing confidence they can seize control of Afghanistan once Obama pulls U.S. forces from the country in 2014.

During the joint press conference, Obama insisted that U.S. forces were winning the battle against al-Qaida, but repeatedly downplayed the intertwined campaign against its long-time ally, the Taliban.

“With the devastating blows we’ve struck against al-Qaida, our core objective is now within reach — ensuring that al-Qaida can never again use Afghanistan to launch devastating attacks against our country,” Obama claimed during the press conference. (RELATED: Obama wins, Americans lose, says Pew’s ‘fiscal cliff’ poll)

In 2014, “this war will come to a responsible end,” as U.S. forces withdraw from the country, Obama said, without acknowledging that the Taliban leaders claim to be confident that they will subsequently overthrow Afghanistan’s U.S.-aligned government.

The admission that the Taliban has not complied with U.S. demands to sever it ties with al-Qaida appeared 1,000 words into the 1,368-word joint statement.

Follow Neil on Twitter