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Taliban, ultraconservative political and religious faction that emerged in Afghanistan in the mid-1990’s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the collapse of Afghanistan’s communist regime, and the subsequent breakdown in civil order. They initially enjoyed goodwill from Afghans weary of the warlords’ corruption, brutality, and incessant fighting. This popularity was not universal, particularly among non-Pashtuns.

Taliban insurgency against U.S. and NATO forces continued in the years following the Taliban’s ouster. The militants funded its efforts in large part through a thriving opium trade, which reached record levels several years after the fall of the Taliban.

Taliban and the United States began meeting in 2018, with the help of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, the only countries to have a diplomatic relationship with both parties. The discussions focused on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, though the United States hoped to eventually push them to negotiate with the central government.