Washington, Oct 10: Taliban has assured to sever ties with al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia will benefit from such an assurance as Taliban has a key interest in bringing an end to Osama Bin Laden chapter. Taliban assured of ties in talks backed by the United Kingdom and hosted by Saudi Arabia, US-based news intelligence service has said in its report. The Saudis could also use an Afghan state with a major Taliban presence to counter the rise of Iran.
The talks, hosted by Saudi King Abdullah himself, were held from September 24 to 27 in Mecca and involved 11 Taliban delegates, two Afghan government officials, a representative of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and three others. Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar has made it clear that he is no longer allied with al Qaeda, the Daily Times reported.
According to Stratfor, Mullah Omar likely is in the Pashtun corridor of Balochistan province and Osama and Ayman Al-Zawahiri are likely in the Dir/Malakand region. The Afghan Taliban movement has splintered into three groups: Taliban forces linked to Omar but based in Afghanistan and engaged in the fighting; Taliban elements allied with Pakistan, and Taliban fighters connected to al Qaeda.
The analysis predicts that ultimately there will be a negotiated settlement with a new leadership that will retain its ideology but within the confines of the Afghan nation-state and will abandon not just al Qaeda but also its transnational objectives of a supranational caliphate.
The Taliban leadership knows it paid a heavy price for its unwillingness to part ways with al Qaeda. The Taliban leaders have also noted that al Qaeda has lost appeal among the locals and realise that if they do not change, they could be sidelined by more pragmatic elements, the report said.
Riyadh's ability to significantly neutralise jihadis at home has given the Saudis great influence over the Taliban"s thinking. The Saudis have an interest in laying bin Laden and the core al Qaeda group to rest.
Also, Pakistan, which used to work in tandem with the Saudis on the Taliban issue, is in disarray, the report said.