The Tenacious, Toxic Haqqani Network

Summary

While global jihadist franchises al-Qaeda and ISIS compete for the public spotlight, the Haqqani Network has steadily and stealthily acted as a formidable insurgent force in Afghanistan. The group has skillfully established and utilized ties to a wide array of militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while also maintaining close ties to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In the Haqqani Network's willingness to be submerged within the Afghan Taliban movement, it often draws attention away from itself and allows the mainstream Taliban to take credit for leadership of the insurgency. The ISI's relationship with the Haqqani Network remains a thorn in U.S.-Pakistan relations, and will undoubtedly continue to plague relations with the coming of the next U.S. administration.

Key Points

  • The Haqqani Network is the strongest and most disciplined force in the Afghan insurgency
  • The Afghan Taliban is heaviliy reliant on the Haqqani Network, despite appearances to the contrary
  • The Haqqani Network has woven a web of alliances with fellow jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba
  • Pakistan's ISI considers the Haqqani Network an asset to help expand its influence in Afghanistan, as well as counter Indian influence, and is unlikely to alter this policy in the near future, despite U.S. pressure
  • Washington's counterinsurgency strategy has accomplished little in terms of dismantling the Haqqani Network

Read the full Policy Focus here.

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