On January 27, Taliban’s political deputy Mulla Abdulghani Baradar arrived in Tehran, heading a Taliban delegation. This is while the Afghan government has explicitly announced its objection over Iran’s approach toward this group. Previously, in December 2019, Mulla Baradar had traveled to Iran and visited Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Ministry.
The Afghan government strongly opposes hosting this group, describing it as “contrary to all principles and relations between countries.” Earlier, in 2018, Taliban Spokesperson Zabihollah Mojahed pointed to the visit of the group’s representatives to Tehran and meeting with several Iranian authorities.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is Afghanistan’s neighbor and an Islamic State alike. We have common interests. Regional security is important for us, and peace and stability in the region is impossible without collaboration between neighboring and regional countries,” the Taliban Spokesperson said.
On the other hand, there has been no optimistic news about the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar. Furthermore, there are many ambiguities about the negotiations’ outcome.
Talks with a Terrorist Entity
Taliban’s representatives have arrived in Tehran for negotiations and talks while the Iranian government has designated the group as a terrorist entity. Already, in an interview with the Afghan TV Channel Tolou, Zarif said that his government still recognizes the Taliban as a terrorist group.
“According to [the Iranian government’s] law, Taliban is still a terrorist entity, and Iran has yet to revoke the Taliban’s terrorist designation,” Zarif said.
Iran’s Top Security Official Blames the U.S. for Failure of Peace Negotiations
Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, claimed, “Peace negotiations are a U.S. show-off.” During his visit with the Taliban’s delegation, Shamkhani blamed the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, saying, “It ensures the continuation of war and bloodshed between different tribes and proposes to create an impasse between various groups.”
This is while U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad had previously underlined Tehran’s destructive and irresponsible role in the peace negotiations.
Following the talks with Taliban’s representatives, Shamkhani praised the group’s hostility against the U.S. “During today’s visit with Taliban’s political delegation, I found that the group’s leaders are determined in the struggle against America,” Shamkhani tweeted. “Someone, who has spent 13 years in Guantanamo Prison under their torture, did not put aside the regional struggle against the U.S.”
Mulla Abdulghani also acknowledged his group’s readiness for protecting the Iran-Afghanistan borders. He also affirmed the Taliban’s willingness for border partnerships with the Islamic Republic.
During the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Tehran allowed American fighters to strike the Taliban’s bases via its sky. However, following the Taliban’s overthrown in December 2001, Iranian authorities hosted Taliban fugitives, including the son of Osama Bin Laden, Hamza, and Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, known as Muhammad al-Masri, and his family, for years.
In fact, Tehran wanted a weak terrorist group to pull its strings easily. In this respect, Iranian authorities hosted high-ranking individuals of Taliban and Al Qaeda to exploit the groups at the best time.
Now, due to the Iranian government’s awkward corner, observers believe that Tehran seemingly uses this hidden card to win required privileges from the new U.S. administration.