Osama bin Laden's death is likely to make the Taliban rethink its alliance with al-Qaeda, which was likely initially based on a personal friendship between bin Laden and the Taliban's one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, analysts tell the AP. The US and Afghan governments won't negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban until it breaks ties with al-Qaeda, and Mullah Omar might be in the mood to talk. "I think now is an opportunity for the Taliban to end their relations with al-Qaeda," says one Kabul-based analyst.
The Taliban rely on al-Qaeda for technical expertise, and to help traffic opium, but they have very different goals: Al-Qaeda wants to wage global jihad, while the Taliban focuses exclusively on Afghanistan. "The older generation of Taliban leaders had long ago become fed up with the arrogance of Arab jihadists," one Pakistani journalist wrote recently. Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, looks at the Taliban "kinda like West Virginia mountain folk—unrefined, uneducated," one Western intelligence officer says.