The Trump administration is desperately trying to negotiate with the Taliban’s senior leadership. The Obama administration did as well, with the effort ending in a diplomatic fiasco.
Since late April, Shabaab has released a series of videos emphasizing its place in al Qaeda’s global network. Two of the videos were recorded by the group’s emir, Abu Ubaydah Ahmad Umar, a normally reclusive figure. Abu Ubaydah refers to the Taliban’s emir as the “Commander of the Faithful” and Ayman al Zawahiri as the “father-emir” while addressing the mujahideen in Syria and Yemen.
The Taliban released a statement attributed to its emir, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who says that “peace” is only possible if the “occupation” is ended. The statement is entirely self-serving and contains absurd claims. For example, Akhundzada writes that the Taliban wants a “free, independent and progressive Afghanistan,” which is completely inconsistent with the group’s ideology and history.