Experts answer: Does Tehran adopt the Afghan opposition, and what are the challenges and future of its relationship with the Taliban regime?

Researchers believe that Tehran will continue its constructive dealings with the Taliban to reduce tension and the threat on its eastern borders, but it will not trust it blindly, and the bilateral dealings between them will not reach the level of strategic relations.

Al Jazeera Net- Five months after the Taliban imposed its control over the Afghan capital, Kabul, Tehran offered to mediate between the new government in Afghanistan and the opposition, and recently hosted a round of meetings to resolve the outstanding issues between them through dialogue.

In this report, Al Jazeera Net poses 6 questions to Iranian and Afghan experts and researchers, to shed light on the factors affecting the future of relations between Tehran and the Taliban regime:

News that indicated the participation of Ahmed Masoud in the meeting that brought together representatives of the Afghan opposition with Taliban officials, which was denied by Tehran (Reuters)

The round of talks between the “Afghan Resistance Front” and the Taliban movement in Tehran came to put an end to the rumors about Ahmad Masoud’s presence in Iran.. Will Iran adopt the Afghan opposition?

Strategic researcher Pir Muhammad Malazhi says that some media outlets have reported rumors some time ago about the presence of Ahmad Masoud in the city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, but the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied this, and the closest to the truth is that it recently transferred him from Tajikistan to Tehran to meet with the acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaki, He may have left Iran after the meetings.

What is important in these meetings is that they came at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, which seeks to resolve the differences between them through dialogue without siding with either of them. Therefore, it can be said that they stand at the same distance from the two sides, despite the spiritual rapprochement between Iranian culture and the Tajik and Hazara tribes in Afghanistan.

How will the Taliban government deal with Iran’s allies inside Afghanistan?

Malazhi says: It is not possible to predict at the present time the behavior of the Taliban with the Shiites in the future. And “extremists” close to the Taliban, such as “Al-Qaeda” and the “Haqqani Network”, adopt an anti-Shia trend that is inconsistent with the Iranian vision and its policies, which may provoke disputes between the Tehran and Taliban governments in the future. For this reason, a group in Iran calls for the necessity of supporting the popular uprising and the Afghan components present in the Islamic Republic.

Here, according to the researcher, it must be recalled that there is a rift between public opinion and the authority in Iran with regard to the relationship with the Taliban. The Iranian people desire relations with non-Pashtun tribes, including the Tajiks and Hazaras, and it is known that there are differences between them with the Taliban over power. The latter wants to be alone, and in return the tribes close to Iran want to participate in the rule. This may affect the relationship between Iran and the Taliban in the future, as well as other pending files and issues such as the waters of the Hirmand River.

epa03244364 Afghan Police destroy poppy (raw material to be used in making Heroin) feilds in Deshala district and Pol-e-Hisar district of Baghlan province, Afghanistan, 01 June 2012. According to media reports, less than two per cent of Afghanistan's illegal opiate production is seized by security forces, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on 28 May, as it announced that it would be spending 117 million dollars over the next three years on its counter narcotics program in the war-torn country. EPA/NAQEEB AHMEDThe cultivation and smuggling of drugs in Afghanistan are among the biggest contentious issues between it and (European) Iran.

What are the biggest challenges facing the relations between Iran and the Taliban, and why do some in Iran consider the Taliban a threat to the future of relations between them?

Malazhi: To answer this question, one must take into account that the Taliban is an ideological movement, and draws its ideas from 3 main streams. The first is the Deobandi school in the Indian subcontinent, the other is Salafism in the Middle East, and the third is the nationalist traditions of the Pashtun sect in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, we see a rivalry between Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan behind the scenes, and therefore I think that the Taliban will take this competition into account and exploit it for the benefit of Tehran’s regional rivals. As long as the outstanding issues between Iran and its rival countries such as Saudi Arabia are not resolved, the relationship between Tehran and the Taliban may be affected as a result of this regional rivalry.

Another challenge lies in the possibility of the activity of “extremist” forces such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, along with the anti-Iranian component in Afghanistan, which might hinder the relationship between Iran and its eastern neighbor.

The third challenge is the cultivation of drugs in Afghanistan, and given that Iranian territory is the most important route for smuggling these materials to other countries, there is a fear that the Taliban will not be serious about controlling this phenomenon as long as the movement faces economic pressure.

There are other challenges, such as illegal immigration to and through Iran, that could stand in the way of relations between Tehran and the Taliban. All of these things prompt a team in Iran to believe that the movement represents a security threat to their country.

Despite the various challenges, are there other denominators and factors that would strengthen relations between the two sides?

The Afghan researcher on Iranian-Afghan relations, Ali Wahedi, says that the Iranian and Afghan people have cultural, ideological and intellectual commonalities and commonalities that would overcome all these challenges. When focusing on official relations, there are great areas for bilateral cooperation at the regional and international levels, which confirms that the circle of understanding is much larger than the contentious issues between them.

“I think that the wisdom on both sides will prevent the differences from exacerbating, and it will lead to cooperation and understanding, and the Taliban will benefit from the experience of the Iranians in governance,” he added.

Wahedi says that cooperation between Tehran and the Taliban extends back years (Al-Jazeera)Waheedi says that cooperation between Tehran and the Taliban extends back years (Al-Jazeera)

There are rumors from time to time about a previous cooperation between Iran and the Taliban to expel US forces from Afghan lands, how true are they?

Wahedi says that the cooperation between Tehran and the Taliban is not the result of the moment, but rather extends over years, despite the differences that sometimes marred their relationship. We can refer to the cooperation between them during the occupation of Afghanistan and the presence of US and NATO forces on its soil, because one of the goals of foreign forces in occupying Afghanistan and establishing military bases in it is to encircle Iran, and this is what the Iranian and Afghan parties, represented by the Taliban, found a common area for action against their archenemy. .

There is fear in Afghanistan of an increase in terrorist groups, and this confirms the necessity of strengthening bilateral relations between Kabul and Tehran and benefiting from Iran’s experience in fighting terrorism.

Reza Hajjet says that Tehran supports the independence of Afghanistan even if the Taliban rules its eastern neighbor (Al-Jazeera)Reza Hajjet says that Tehran supports the independence of Afghanistan even if it is ruled by the Taliban (Al-Jazeera)

What is the reason for the accelerated rapprochement between Iran and the Taliban, some 22 years after the killing of 8 Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif, when Tehran accused the movement of being behind the attack?

The researcher at the “Contemporary History” Institute for Studies, Reda Hajjet, sees a clear change in the behavior of the Taliban during the past years, as it showed a serious will to deal with the world and strengthen its relations with neighboring countries, especially Iran.

On the other hand, the Iranian authorities found that working with the Taliban contributes to the liberation of Afghan lands, the expulsion of foreign forces and the restoration of security there. Nor can Iran turn a blind eye to the Taliban’s policy of blocking the way for Afghan stalkers and preventing internal fighting between Shiites and Pashtuns.

What matters to Iran in dealing with its neighbors is the independence of these countries, even if the ruling current is not one of its allies, as Hajjet says. Tehran supports the independence of Afghanistan, even if it is ruled by the Taliban.

The Taliban held a press conference at the end of its visit to Tehran (Iranian press)Taliban leaders at a previous press conference after talks in Tehran (Iranian press)

What is the future of relations between Iran and the Taliban regime?

Political researcher Siawush Falahpour says: “Without any doubt, Iran will consider Taliban rule as a threat to the security and stability of its eastern borders, but despite that it will deal with the new government in Afghanistan based on its practical record, and may go along with it according to its national interest and the policy of reducing tension with its neighbors. Her behavior will upset her traditional allies there.”

It is possible, according to the researcher, that Tehran will make new alliances with some parties affiliated with the Taliban. In sum, we believe that Tehran will continue its constructive dealings with the Taliban to reduce tension and the threat on its eastern borders, but it will not trust it blindly, and the bilateral dealings between them will not reach the level of strategic relations.

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