The US, Pakistan, China, and the Afghan government can’t seem to get the Taliban to the table for talks without them collapsing almost immediately, but the group seems eager to make some deals, even if they’re just “alliances of convenience.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan have been carving out a collection of patchwork ceasefires across their overlapping territory in eastern Afghanistan, aiming to end what a few months ago had been some heavy fighting over control of districts on the Pakistan border.
The deals mostly center on Nangarhar Province, but also include some of the surrounding area. One Afghan general noted that the two sides were at one anothers’ throats for some time, but haven’t fought any serious clashes in over two months. Still, all the deals appear to be local, and how long they last remains to be seen.
The deal makes a lot of sense for both factions though, as the Taliban’s focus has mostly shifted to other provinces, and they’d just as soon not have to fight both ISIS and the Afghan military over Nangarhar. Similarly, ISIS is still trying to get itself established as a real force in Afghanistan, and is almost exclusive to Nangarhar.
Obviously there’s no official word on the terms of these deals, but it’s likely that in addition to a ceasefire, the Taliban would want to limit ISIS recruitment in some of their most important historic strongholds, as ISIS has long tried to establish itself in Afghanistan by presenting itself as a more modern, globalist alternative to the Taliban.