Taliban visit Iran, hope to sideline US

Tehran wants to undermine US role in Kabul, promote Taliban as either rulers of Afghanistan or equals to gov’t


Iran FM Javad Zarif meets with Taliban delegation in Tehran, Jan. 2021

The Taliban rode high during US president Donald Trump’s administration because they knew he wanted to leave Afghanistan. They hoped for a trip to Camp David and acted like the rulers of Afghanistan when they attended peace talks in Doha, Qatar.

Now the Taliban face President Joe Biden’s administration, which may be tougher on them. To deal with this new reality, they are growing closer to Iran.

Iran recently hosted a high-level Taliban delegation for talks about the “peace process.” The group has been meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said the two sides would discuss “relations between Tehran and Kabul, issues related to Afghan refugees in Iran and the prevailing political and security situation of Afghanistan and the region.”

Support for the Taliban’s growing role in Afghanistan, after 20 years of US war there, has come from Iran, Russia and Qatar. It will likely come from Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and other countries that form part of an authoritarian, or Islamist, group that seeks to remove pro-Western governments.

Iran‘s Tasnim News Agency highlighted the new Taliban talks in Tehran and made clear how Iran views the situation. During the recent Iran-Taliban meetings, the sides exchanged views on the region, the internal situation in Afghanistan and how to advance the peace process in the country, Tasnim reported.

“Referring to the US actions in Afghanistan, our foreign minister emphasized that the US is not a good mediator,” the report said.

“We support an inclusive Islamic government in the presence of all ethnicities and religions and consider it a necessity for Afghanistan… The people of Afghanistan are yours and should not be targeted in operations,” Tasnim quoted Zarif as saying.

The statements clearly indicate Iran’s attempt to undermine the US role in Kabul and to hold up the Taliban as either rulers of Afghanistan or equals to the government. This is the same method Iran uses in supporting Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Islamic Jihad and other groups, including its proxy militia allies such as Hezbollah, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen.

Iran’s goal is to cultivate religious extremist groups across the region, either among Shi’ites or sometimes among Sunnis, including Hamas and the Taliban, and advance them to take over countries or hijack political systems.

Turkey also supports this method and hosts Hamas terrorists. Turkey, like Iran, seeks to use proxies and militias to hijack or undermine foreign states with the goal of reducing US influence in the region and partnering with Russia and Iran.