“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that authority resulting from the will of the oppressed people of Afghanistan is the source of security and stability,” said Raisi Reuters
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said the US “failure” in Afghanistan provides an opportunity to build lasting peace in the country and advocates an inclusive Afghan government that represents all ethnic groups and faiths.
“The military defeat of the United States and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security, and lasting peace in Afghanistan,” said Ebrahim Raisi, who took office in early August, in an official statement. “Iran supports efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan and, as a neighboring and sister nation, invites all groups in Afghanistan to reach a national agreement,” he added. However, achieving this claim will be more complex than it seems.
Ebrahim Raisi alluded to the different Muslim currents that dominate Iran and Afghanistan, a source of friction for decades.
Iran – which traditionally tries to protect the Shiites in the Middle East, both to give them more power and to export the revolution – saw the Sunni Taliban as an enemy. But the Islamic Republic of Iran has fundamentalist allies from other ethnicities, such as the Islamic movement Hamas in Palestine, because its primary objective “is to work with anti-Western, anti-Israel and other elements throughout the region,” notes the correspondent for the Middle East from The Jerusalem Post.
Iran’s Afghanistan policy “is complex,” writes Seth Franzen. The repression of the Afghan Shiites of the Hazara ethnic minority, and the fact that Afghanistan is home to an al Qaeda base that targeted Iran, led to deep tensions between the Taliban and its neighboring country in the 1990s.
Osama bin Laden’s Sunni jihadists fought the Hazzara minority Shiites, at the opposite end of the jihadist spectrum, because they saw them as unworthy infidels.
The scenario changed when the United States invaded Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001. Tehran has even received and harbored elements of al Qaeda. The United States even accused Tehran of secretly supporting Taliban fighters against its military. A charge always rejected by the Taliban.
In recent years, Iran and Afghanistan have been opening a line of dialogue. In July, Tehran hosted a meeting between Afghan government representatives and a group of Taliban negotiators.
Different political goals
Completely aligned on “the need to get the US out of Afghanistan,” the two regimes disagree on “how the Taliban can treat minorities,” writes Seth Franzen in the Jerusalem Post. The new Iranian president, on the other hand, made it known that he is closely following the evolution of events in Afghanistan and expressed his desire to “have good relations” with the neighboring country.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the authority resulting from the will of the oppressed people of Afghanistan is a source of security and stability,” added Ebrahim Raisi, at the end of a meeting with the outgoing Iranian foreign minister, but without directly mentioning the Taliban.
In an article published in the Jerusalem Post, Seth Franzen underlines the fact that in using the expression “the will of the people”, the president of Iran is referring to “a new era of political, social and security developments in the eastern neighbor”.
However, Tehran remains on the sidelines, as “the face of the Taliban is associated with violence and extremism in the eyes of the majority of people in this country and also of world public opinion, and the history of this group’s governance in Afghanistan has not let good memory”.
Is the Islamic Republic concerned about the formation of the Islamic Emirate?
The Iranian president also questions whether the Taliban are carrying out a public relations campaign or whether they are clearly willing to change their policies.
“Although the Taliban continue to insist on the formation of an ‘Islamic Emirate’, during this time they have repeatedly underlined the need for interaction, dialogue, and tolerance”, being “increasing their ‘soft power”, said Ebrahim Raisi.
Iran wants to retain the links it has already created with certain groups in Afghanistan, such as the Shiites recruited to fight in Syria.
Tehran has significantly reduced the number of diplomatic personnel at the Kabul embassy, which nevertheless remains “fully open and active”.
For his part, the outgoing minister met with the Chinese special envoy to Afghanistan, having addressed the possibility of the arrival of a wave of Afghan refugees.
An oil-producing country and a frequent destination for Afghans looking for work or fleeing war, Iran announced that it had prepared accommodations to temporarily accommodate fleeing Afghans. However, with the economy weakened by US sanctions, Iran itself has encouraged the two million illegals and more than 800,000 registered Afghan refugees to return to their country.
The Iranian media have not yet accounted for any influx of refugees.
Source: with Agencies