Why Iran Will Welcome the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

“He travels with Iranian bodyguards,” a tribal elder and local police chief alleged about a Taliban commander from his home district of Shah Wali Kot.

“He has traveled back and forth from Iran for decades. He was previously a commander near Herat” during the Taliban rule over Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, the police chief—who requested anonymity for security purposes—told me in an Aug. 2 interview held in a secluded location for on the outskirts of the city of Kandahar.

After the former Taliban capital fell once again to the Taliban on Aug. 12, the man I interviewed was reportedly hanged.

When the Taliban took Afghanistan’s key Islam Qala border crossing with Iran on July 9, locals reported that Iranian officials on the other side welcomed them. When on Aug. 6 it seemed the capital of Nimroz province in western Afghanistan was about to fall and many of those afraid of the Taliban rushed toward the border to escape, Iranian officials instead reportedly refused entry to most of those fleeing.

Iran has a long history of hosting both key al Qaeda members as well as Taliban leaders. As Foreign Policy reported in May 2016, “Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was killed in Pakistan by an American drone last weekend after leaving Iran, where his family lives. U.S. officials say that Mullah Mansour regularly and freely traveled into and out of Iran.”

Several sources I spoke to on the ground across the country during a monthlong reporting trip between July and August this year said that Iran has played a major role in the conflict.

While I was reporting from Kandahar, multiple security officials told me that Iranian weapons had been found in the hands of killed Taliban fighters in the area.

They added that they had received information on Iranian fighters operating in Nimroz, Herat, and Helmand provinces in western and southwestern Afghanistan near the border with Iran.

Source: Foreign Policy

Also Read: Iran and Hamas congratulate Taliban for victory in Afghanistan

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