On March 13, the Taliban took control of the Afghan Islamic Religious (AFIS) mosque in the southern province of Nangarhar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement and home to the country’s largest and most revered mosque.
The Taliban are now considered a “terrorist organization” by the United States and its allies and have been banned by the international community.
The Taliban have been operating in Afghanistan for more than a decade and have killed thousands of people, including dozens of civilians, in an offensive to take over the region from the government and push it to join the Taliban fold.
In an exclusive interview with Axios, Al Jazeera’s Farhan Haq, senior security correspondent for Afghanistan, explains how the Taliban gained a presence in Afghanistan and how the United Nations Security Council is currently weighing the matter.
Haq: In recent months, the Afghan government has been struggling to stem the tide of Islamic State (IS) attacks, but that is starting to get harder as the Taliban continues to take more control of areas around the country.
Is it safe to say that the Taliban are becoming more active in Afghanistan, in what you would call the ‘tribal’ realm?
Faisal: It is true.
The group has also been gaining some strength, as the UN has been pushing them to rein in their activity and control areas they were previously able to control.
The UN has also imposed new sanctions on the Taliban for their alleged role in the November attack on a government compound in Kunduz, and has been urging the group to stop their terrorist activities.
Al Jazeera: What are some of the other groups that are still operating in the country?
Faial: The Taliban, as we said, have been active in the tribal areas for a number of years, and it is also a fact that the group is becoming increasingly more aggressive, as it has been able to take control of certain areas.
For example, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the main Uzbek affiliate of IS, is also trying to gain control of Afghanistan’s western provinces.
The international community has also warned that the situation in Afghanistan will deteriorate if the Taliban do not rein in its activities.
In particular, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been sending a high-level delegation to Afghanistan.
Haq: It sounds like the United Kingdom is sending its own delegation as well.
But what about Saudi Arabia?
Are the Saudis trying to pressure the Taliban to stop the attacks?
Fahad: The Saudi government has warned that if the Islamic Taliban does not cease its activities, the situation will deteriorates.
It has been pressuring the Taliban in recent months to stop its terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
It is also pressuring the government in Kabul to allow more international observers into the country and for the Taliban’s presence to be restricted in the capital, Kabul.
HaQ: Do you think that the United Saudi Arabia has any influence over the Taliban?
Fayaz: The Saudis have a very active role in Afghanistan as the kingdom has sent thousands of fighters to the war-torn country.
Saudi Arabia, which is one of the biggest donors to the Taliban, has also played a key role in sponsoring the Afghan Taliban and has provided them with weapons and military training.
Haql: How did the Taliban get their hands on a large cache of chemical weapons and biological weapons in Afghanistan?
Feyaz: At least six tons of chemical agents and biological agents were found in Afghanistan in January 2016, and were reportedly used by the Taliban.
The discovery of chemical munitions and biological munitions in Afghanistan is not surprising.
However, the discovery of the chemical munitions, which were used against the US troops in 2014, is particularly shocking.
Haqt: What’s the latest from the UN on the situation?
Faaq: The UN is currently reviewing the findings of the investigation into the chemical weapons attack in Kunduk and the military operation to remove the remnants of the attack.
Haqq: Are the United State, Britain and other countries worried about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan?
Is this going to make the situation even worse?
Haq?: The situation in the war is not going to get better any time soon.
It’s going to be very hard for the United Sates and other international partners to work with the Taliban or any other group.
The only way to avoid this situation is to isolate them from the international scene, and if you isolate them, you will never be able to resolve the issues.
The longer you stay isolated, the worse the situation gets.
Haqi: How does the Taliban think about its role in peace negotiations?
Faeal: They are not in a position to be negotiating with anyone, even the Afghan security forces.
Haqs: But are they in a very strong position in Afghanistan at the moment?
Are they able to hold on to power?
Fafas: They have very strong leadership, and they have no qualms about committing atrocities. They