Some experts view the Taliban meeting last month with high-ranking Iranian officials in Tehran as an attempt by the Iranian regime to increase its influence in negotiations with the administration of US President Joe Biden and maintain its influence in Afghan politics.
Iran hosted a delegation from the Taliban led by its deputy leader, Mullah Baradar, for a week, saying that this was “part of Tehran’s policy to communicate with the Afghan parties in the Afghan peace process.”
Iran has developed closer ties with the rebel group in recent years.
Kamran Bukhari, director of analytical development at the Global Policy Center for the US VOA, said, “Iran has A great incentive “in developing relations with the Taliban, adding that Iran is looking to increase its influence in the negotiations with the new US administration.
” Four years of President Donald Trump’s administration has really put them under great pressure. They are coming to the negotiating table with the Biden administration from a position of relative weakness, and this means that they need to gain influence. ” He added, “To increase its influence, Iran is trying to exploit the situation in Afghanistan, where the United States is facing problems and looking for a way out.”
President Joe Biden said that he is ready to lift the sanctions on Iran if Tehran reduces its enrichment. Uranium to the level agreed upon in the 2015 international treaty, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
And many US media outlets have reported that the new US administration is not only working on addressing Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. But also its regional activities.
Iran has said it will comply with the JCPOA as soon as the United States lifts sanctions, and has refused talks on broader security issues.
President Donald Trump withdrew from the treaty in 2018. Accusing it of failing to stop Iran’s missile program and its influence in the region. American and Afghan officials accused Iran of providing the Taliban with money, weapons and explosives, which Iran denied.
The Taliban are different
For his part, Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told VOA that the Iranian regime has met with the Taliban for several years, but that they have become more public. “What they did this time is to do it publicly, in recognition of the fact that the Taliban is now internationally recognized as a player,” Vatanka continued. ”
While Iranian officials said,” This Taliban group is completely different from the 1990s. ” Vatanka said that Tehran had not yet convinced the Iranian people that it was dealing with a “more sophisticated” group than it was 20 years ago.
During the civil war in Afghanistan, in the 1990s, the Shiite regime was Iran is a strong enemy of the extremist Sunni Taliban, especially after the Taliban killed nine Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. Iran sponsored Afghan forces fighting against the Taliban and supported the new political order after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
Vatanka said that the Iranians do not want to be left behind because other regional and international powers are working to develop relations with the Taliban. He added, “So the Iranians do not want to be excluded from this conversation.”
In recent weeks, the Taliban movement has intensified its flights to countries in the region. In addition to Iran, their delegations visited Pakistan, Russia and Turkmenistan to seek support for the implementation of the agreement between the United States and the Taliban signed in February 2020.
The agreement between the United States and the Taliban states that the United States will withdraw all Its forces will be dispatched from Afghanistan by May 1 only if the Taliban fulfills the conditions for severing ties with Al Qaeda and reaching an agreement on sharing power with the Afghan government and reducing violence in Afghanistan.
The new US administration said it was backing down. Agreement between the United States and the Taliban to find out if the Taliban have fulfilled the conditions stipulated in the agreement. But the Taliban said they expect the new administration to honor Trump’s Afghan commitments.
The Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the increase in violence in the country and the stalled intra-Afghan talks. No progress was reported in the second round of peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban that began on January 5 in Doha.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif considered the Taliban “part of reality.” “In Afghanistan, the Taliban delegation informed that Iran is ready to mediate the stalled peace talks.
) Colin Clare, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center, a global security research group, said countries in the region are preparing for the US withdrawal. “The United States will withdraw and they are preparing for what will happen next.”
By developing closer ties with the Taliban, “the Iranian regime is looking for different ways to exercise its own influence and a greater role,” he added. In Afghan politics. ”
Iran has been a major player in the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan. Iran shares a long border, about 920 kilometers, with Afghanistan and there are about 3 million Afghans in Iran.
After his meeting with the Taliban delegation, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, praised the Tweet on January 27th, led by the Taliban for “their determination” in their fight against the United States.
In response to Shamkhani’s tweet, Afghan Chief of General Staff Muhammad Yasin Zia said, referring to the escalating violence In recent months, “An The Taliban is fighting against the people of Afghanistan, not against [الولايات المتحدة]. ”
Najib Azad, a Kabul-based political analyst, told VOA that Shamakhani’s statements show that“ there is no regional consensus on the peace process. Afghan, and the peace process is likely to fail. ”He added that the new US administration must“ pay serious attention ”to the regional dynamics of the conflict in Afghanistan.