Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Mullahs and Taliban; Old Enemies, New Friends

A former senior political adviser to the speaker of the Afghan parliament, said the Taliban relationship with the Mullahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran had changed drastically since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, ultimately leading to a partnership between the long-time foes.

Baktash Siawash writes that Taliban were hostile towards Iran during their first rule in 1996. This hostility led the Taliban to assassinate Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif, and Iran as a result increased its support for the anti-Taliban resistance forces.

The Iranian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif is the same consulate where Taliban forces entered in August 23 years ago and killed eight diplomats of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as IRNA correspondent Mahmoud Saremi. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran did not even mention the name “Taliban” in its statement on the anniversary of the massacre at the Iranian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif this year.

However, after the US invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, Iran approached the Taliban since the US was now their common enemy. During this period, Iran supported the Taliban and provided them with the resources needed to fight the central government and US forces, during which time the Taliban leader’s successor frequently met with Iranian officials.

According to Siawash, in addition to fighting a common enemy, the “opium trade” has also strengthened the Taliban’s ties with Iran. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force is a partner in the global drug trade with the Taliban.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once publicly stated that Iranian officials wanted to “censor” him because he criticized “corrupt relations” between Iranian security forces and the Taliban.

The Afghan politician concludes that relations between the Taliban and Iran are merely based on common interests, not a long-term strategy. Although enmity with the United States has been at the heart of this bilateral relationship, there are still fundamental differences between the Mullahs in Tehran and the Taliban that will be tested in the near and distant future.

Source: Al Arabiya
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