Military and intelligence analysts now believe a weaker al-Qaeda is increasingly reliant on an emboldened Taliban for protection and for the manpower to carry out its attacks. This shift has important implications for the Obama administration as it tries to define a way forward for the US presence in Afghanistan, and the possibility of adding more troops. There may be fewer than 100 members of the group left in the country, while there are 300 al-Qaeda members in the mountains of Pakistan. There may be tens of thousands of Taliban insurgents on either side of the border. Shifting alliances among these groups could have significant bearing on where the US military chooses to focus its firepower. While the groups have had symbiotic relations, their agendas may be diverging, with Taliban leaders increasingly espousing the kinds of tactics similar to standard counterinsurgency doctrine at odds with al-Qaeda behaviour. For much more on this discussion, read Washington Post
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