TEHRAN (Iran News) – The Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasized that the Afghanistan crisis must be settled through intra-Afghan talks. The Tehran Times examines efforts by the Iranian diplomats to broker dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times that will soon be published, Mohsen Baharvand, the Deputy Foreign Minister in Legal Affairs, stated that Iran has a good interaction with Afghanistan and “our border security is interdependent.”
He added that the security forces must take extra precautionary measures, but said he does not see any “sign that our land was in danger.”
The deputy foreign minister also said that there were negotiations between the Taliban and Iran in Qatar and when the Taliban delegation came to Iran on Jan 26.
“I do not think Iran is a country that needs someone to recognize its borders. Iran is a powerful country, its borders are clear, and overall Iran is the most powerful country in the region, and Iran does not need anyone to recognize its borders. Iran watches over its borders. We are a powerful country and we do not need anyone’s guarantee,” the deputy foreign minister said.
Baharvand noted that Iran considers its own interests in any situation, calling Iran a “proactive, strong and powerful country”.
Government says Taliban is part of Afghanistan’s future solution
In remarks on Tuesday, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said that the Taliban is part of Afghanistan and a part of its future solution.
“What is important for us is the formation of an inclusive government with the presence of all Afghan groups and the achievement of a peaceful and lasting solution in this country,” he noted.
He added that the Islamic Republic is closely monitoring developments in Afghanistan and is following the recent moves with concern.
“While calling on all parties to calm down, we do not consider the use of violence and non-peaceful behaviors useful in resolving disputes, and we will continue our consultations with Kabul to end unconstructive conflicts and replace dialogue and engagement with the participation of all influential political groups and forces,” the spokesman underlined.
Rabiei said the Islamic Republic continues to urge all countries not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
“Our mission is to communicate with the Afghan government and provide any necessary assistance,” Rabiei highlighted.
The tripartite meeting
In line with continuation of Tehran’s efforts to help broker peace in neighboring Afghanistan, Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard held talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday.
Taherian Fard referred to his recent visit to Pakistan, stressing the importance of a plan to hold a trilateral meeting among foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan as well as boosting relations of the three countries.
The Afghan foreign minister also stressed the need to expand bilateral and multilateral relations with Iran.
Expressing his approval over holding a tripartite meeting among Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Atmar stressed that such a meeting will be useful in strengthening regional consensus in the efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
The Iranian diplomat had met with Foreign Minister Atmar and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, before heading to Pakistan. During the meetings, the current developments in Afghanistan were discussed and the two sides stressed the need to continue consultations in this regard. It is worth mentioning that Taherian paid a visit to Islamabad on Wednesday at the invitation of Mohammad Sadegh Khan, the special envoy of the prime minister of Pakistan for Afghanistan.
Iran has doubled down on its diplomatic efforts to achieve peace in neighboring Afghanistan as the conflict there has intensified between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Taliban have intensified attacks on government forces as the U.S.-led foreign troops have begun leaving the war-torn country after two decades.
Foreign Ministry says security and unity in Afghanistan are important to Iran
Speaking in his weekly presser on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh noted, “The security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan is very closely linked.”
Khatibzadeh said “what is important to us is security and unity” in Afghanistan.
“Violence in Afghanistan has escalated to alarming levels and some minorities are under pressure. We want everyone to respect rights (of others). Only a political solution can guarantee Afghanistan’s future.”
In his Monday remarks, Khatibzadeh also said the Taliban represent only part of Afghanistan and not the entire country.
However, he said, the Taliban should be seen as part of the solution to end the protracted conflict in the Central Asian country.
“The Taliban does not constitute all Afghanistan, but is part of that country and part of the way out of crisis,” Khatibzadeh said, according to Tasnim.
Khatibzadeh stressed the need for the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan through “peaceful and sustainable solutions” that would involve all Afghan groups and ethnicities.
Khatibzadeh also said Iran is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan at high security and political levels and is negotiating with all Afghan groups.
“It is necessary to protect the territorial integrity (of Afghanistan) and its achievements of the past two decades. Moreover, authentic intra-Afghan dialogue is the sole sustainable solution. We are prepared to facilitate the talks,” Khatibzadeh stated.
He also underlined that Iran would not rush to comment or make any forecast on the possible collapse of Kabul and the subsequent developments in Afghanistan. “What matters to us is (the formations of) an inclusive government, security, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.”
He added, “We are monitoring the moves of Daesh in Afghanistan.”
Iranian officials maintain that the intra-Afghan negotiations should include all Afghan groups in accordance with the Afghan constitution.
The Taliban is making rapid advances in Afghanistan. It views the Ashraf Ghani government as a puppet regime. Last week the UN expressed alarm at their gains.
Some analysts say the Taliban have been moderated over the years.
A member of an Islamabad-based think tank believes that the “Taliban are accommodating all ethnic groups” as it looks forward to seize the power in Kabul.
“Taliban are accommodating all the ethnic groups in their organization as they have eyes on the upcoming administration in Kabul,” Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai, a senior research associate at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), tells the Tehran Times.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the government of Afghanistan could collapse as soon as six months after the American military withdrawal from the country is completed, according to officials with knowledge of the new assessment, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
American intelligence agencies revised their previously more optimistic estimates as the Taliban swept through northern Afghanistan in recently days, seizing dozens of districts and surrounding major cities. Afghan security forces frequently surrendered without a fight, leaving their Humvees and other American-supplied equipment to the insurgents.
The new assessment of the overall U.S. intelligence community, which hasn’t been previously reported, has now aligned more closely with the analysis that had been generated by the U.S. military. The military has already withdrawn more than half of its 3,500 troops and its equipment, with the rest due to be out by Sept. 11.
On Wednesday, Taliban fighters were battling government troops inside the northern city of Kunduz after occupying the main border crossing with Tajikistan the previous day and reaching the outskirts of northern Afghanistan’s main hub, Mazar-e-Sharif. Tajikistan’s border service said 134 Afghan troops at the crossing were granted refuge while some 100 others were killed or captured by the Taliban.
The U.S. is pulling out from Afghanistan, ending the country’s longest overseas war, as a result of the February 2020 agreement that the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that, while Taliban attacks on Afghan forces are increasing, there has been no such rise in attacks on American troops. “Had we not begun to draw down, violence would have increased against us as well,” she said. “So the status quo, in our view, was not an option.”
U.S. President Joe Biden has said that Afghans “are going to have to decide their future” as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited the White House on Friday.
According to al Jazeera, about 5,000 Afghan families have fled their homes in the northern city of Kunduz after days of fighting between Taliban fighters and government forces, officials said on Saturday.
Heavy fighting has also been reported in the provinces of Kandahar and Baghlan, where the Afghan forces claimed to have retaken areas from Taliban control but the armed group still held on to parts of Pul-e-Khumri area in central Baghlan, according to local media.
According to the WSJ, the setbacks suffered by the Afghan military in recent days prompted the prominent mujahedeen commanders who fought the Taliban before 2001, such as Atta Mohammad Noor, to call on supporters to rejoin armed militias in a national mobilization. While this mobilization is ostensibly in support of Afghan government forces, it shifts the power away from Ghani’s embattled administration and toward the warlords whose authority he long tried to curb.