A long-standing “strategic hedge” in Afghanistan, Iran, intensified by the withdrawal of U.S. forces

Iran has long argued that it has followed policies that support Kabul’s political stability while expanding its ties with the Taliban. Experts warn that this paradoxical policy is likely to gain momentum and cause further turmoil and violence within Afghanistan following the September 11 US military withdrawal deadline.

This policy, which supports the Afghan government and the Taliban at the same time, or what experts call a “hedge,” will bring the Afghan government and the Taliban in the hope that it will have greater political influence after the U.S. withdraws. It is done with the intention of keeping it apart.

“Today, the Iranian government supports the Afghan Constitution and its IRGC is training and weaponizing the Taliban,” said Hamid, a former Iranian political prisoner and independent Middle Eastern analyst based in Glasgow, Scotland. Barrami told Epoch Times by email.

Press on Iran Supporting the Taliban is nothing new. Sharif Yaftari, who served as Chief of Staff of the Afghan Defense and Security Forces in 2017, Openly blame Iran The Kabul government said it had evidence of providing military assets to the Taliban.

The latest report is from late January when a Taliban delegation visited Tehran and was accepted by senior Iranian officials. However, Tehran notified the Kabul government and post-conflict Afghanistan was a safe haven. Said I wanted to make sure it wasn’t. For terrorists.

However, after the meeting with the Taliban delegation, Iran’s Supreme Security Council secretary Ali Shamkani said Tweet on January 27 During the meeting, he discovered that the group’s leaders had “decided to fight the United States.” Exactly the next day, the message was criticized by Afghan State Chief of Staff Yasin Zia. A soldier on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, your understanding of the ongoing war in Afghanistan is incorrect. The Taliban are fighting the Afghan people, not the Americans. We act decisively against any enemy group of the Afghan people. I will, “said Zia.

Bahrami said the Iranians have a complex relationship with the Taliban. While all these meetings are taking place, the Taliban are also skeptical about Taliban’s future approach, as it has connections with players from other regions and is being used as a “Trojan horse” by Pakistan. ..

“If the United States wants, the Taliban could be an enemy of the Iranian regime,” he said. In other words, US policy can determine the stance that the Taliban will take against Iran. Iran will work with Shiite militants to control the Sunni-dominated Taliban at the same time. Is trying to build, he said.

so analysis Last year, Vinay Kaula, a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, said Afghanistan was one of Tehran’s most important foreign policy neighbors, but this focus has not received enough attention from other parts of the world. ..

“It is difficult to analyze Iran’s intentions and influence in Afghanistan because of this seemingly contradictory dual policy: conflicting and harmonious, openly concealed. “Cowra said.

A landlocked country, Afghanistan borders Central Asian countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and a short border with China’s new ji. All neighboring countries have some interest and influence over the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s leading journalist, Ahmed Krysi, who has been dealing with Iran for 20 years, told the Epoch Times that Iran is the most “organized” in Afghanistan among all these regional powers, in Kabul and the Taliban. He said he had agents on both sides.

“Iran’s true power is its agents within the Taliban and the Government of Kabul. Since 2002, many Afghan pro-government military commanders have been in close contact with the IRGC. These contacts have accelerated since 2017. Several local Taliban leaders on the ground in western and northwestern Afghanistan have also contacted the IRGC and are frequently taken to Mashad for meetings, and will return, “said Kulaisi.

Bahrami best defines Iran’s interests in Afghanistan today through a variety of activities such as “fusion of different interests, asymmetric tactics, revenge for defeats on other battlefields, and tactical friendship / hostility.” Said.

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with the Taliban political team in Tehran, Iran, on January 31, 2021. (Tasnim News Agency via AP)

Tehran and Taliban

As a Shiite-dominated country, the history of Iran’s ideological differences and the political conflict with the Sunni-dominated Taliban is known to the world.

Bahrami said the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran within Afghanistan is based on their agenda of “religious expansionism.”

“Saudi Arabia calls itself a leader in the Islamic world, especially Sunnis, and the Iranian regime is doing the same with Shiites. Hundreds in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. We have found that there is a million Shiite population and that both Saudi Arabia and Iran are on the battlefield to support their religious agents. These religious agents are political and military in all these countries. It has become a force, “said Barrami.

Bahrami said Saudi Arabia had a long and deep relationship with Sunni fighters in Afghanistan who fought against Soviet-backed governments in Kabul in the 1980s.

“Then, in the mid-1990s, Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, became the only three countries to approve the Taliban in Afghanistan … but 9/11 changed the game in favor of Iran. “Since 9/11, Saudi Arabia has had to stay away from the Taliban for its traditional alliance with the United States, and this gap has given Iran a chance, he said. ..

Cowra said several other developments in the Middle East have been linked to the relationship between Tehran and the Taliban in recent years.

“In recent years, Saudi Arabia’s harsh attitude towards Qatar, where the Taliban remain in power, and Qatar’s improved relationship with Tehran have helped Iran and the Taliban approach. This depends on the context and changing circumstances. Explains Iran’s ability and willingness to play different roles. “

Bahrami said the “tactical and strategic game” between Saudi Arabia and Iran needs to be understood that Afghanistan is preparing for a military cut on September 11.

“Today, Saudi Arabia is trying to build better relations with the Kabul government, pushing the Taliban towards a peace process in Pakistan and pressured it to stay away from Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Shi’a factions We are trying to develop relationships with some politicians, such as Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who had a very close relationship with the group, “said Barrami.

Abdullah Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan Praised Iran’s role in the peace process in Afghanistan.

Bahrami said Pakistan and Iran are dissatisfied with Saudi support for the Kabul government.

“Iran is threatened by the loss of Shiite friends, and Pakistan is angry as Islamabad attempts to undermine anti-Taliban individuals and groups,” Bahrami said. Bahrami said Iran has all the secret tactics, defenses and attacks that cannot be avoided in today’s Afghan peace process and must play an active role.

According to Bahrami, the biggest pressure campaign on Iran by the United States was to monitor Iran and force it to play an active role.

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President Hassan Rouhani (left) of Iran walks next to him at the official welcome ceremony of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan arriving at Saadabad Palace in Tehran on April 19, 2015. (ATTA KENARE / AFP via Getty Images)

Opportunity for Iran

With the new deadline for the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan, Iran has several opportunities to increase its influence and profits within Afghanistan.

Bahrami said Iran has a great opportunity for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to build its own Shiite deputies and take advantage of this situation to develop Shiite fundamentalism.

“Since September 11, neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban can limit the units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Afghanistan. Recall that Kaani, the successor to Soleimani, was the man of Soleimani in the Afghan affairs. Iran’s presence in Afghanistan, directly or indirectly, seriously threatens the interests of the United States and the West. Iran also has sufficient capacity to disrupt the democratization process, which in the long run It should be the ultimate goal of the United States, “said Soleim.

Quraishi said it would benefit Iran if the United States did not pay attention within Afghanistan today.

“If the United States is not careful, it is on the verge of handing over Afghanistan to Iran, just as the United States did carelessly in Iraq,” he said.

Biden’s government announcement on the withdrawal of troops to create space for greater IRGC influence in Afghanistan would be doubly deadly if it eased the biggest pressure campaign on Iran, Bahrami said. Said.

“The biggest pressure campaign has limited the IRGC’s ability to expand its influence in Afghanistan and other neighboring countries,” he reiterated.

Another opportunity for Iran in Afghanistan, according to Bahrami, is to use geography in competition between India and Pakistan.

“Afghanistan has its own strategic geopolitical position, which in fact is a bridge between Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. But the problem is that Afghanistan does not have access to the sea and depends on Pakistan and Iran. That’s it, “said Barrami.

This situation has some impact on Iran with respect to India. He said India needs to work with the IRGC on economic, political and security issues in order for India to secure profits for Pakistan and China.

“To date, the US military presence in Afghanistan has restricted Iran from conducting such activities.”

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Afghanistan National Reconciliation High Council Chair Abdullah Abdullah (C) and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Klesi (2L) attending an event held at the Strategic Institute in Islamabad on September 29, 2020. (Via AAMIR QURESHI / AFP / AFP Getty Images)

“Takfiri” unit

ISIS poses a major threat to Iran on the border with Afghanistan, especially IS-Khorasan, which the Iranians call the “Takfiri” force.

“Sunni Takfiri forces divide Afghan territory into territories, as Iranian officials claim, and remain a nightmare for Shiite Iran.” virgin Waghmar of SOAS Iran Research Center in London told The Epoch Times in an email.

Sunni Takfir factionWagmar, a term often used in the Iranian media, meant hard-line Sunni or Wahhab ISIS and IS-K fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Khorasan, a state in eastern Iran that ISIS calls “the great Khorasan,” means eastern Iran and the entire Afghanistan. “Historically, Afghanistan was part of Khorasan Province, which separated about 200 years ago,” said Bahrami.

Mr Wagmar said Iran had the opportunity to secure the Eastern Front from IS-K following the withdrawal of Western troops on September 11.

According to Barami, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps can use the Taliban to fight the Takfiri army or create its own Shiite militants to fight the Takfiri army, a battle that will only deepen after the withdrawal of the army. Stated.

“After the US withdrawal, the balancer [the United States] It doesn’t exist, “he said. In this situation, the Taliban and Kabul governments will continue to undermine themselves, and perhaps both will need to fight the mighty ISIS, he said.

“ISIS is an extreme threat to Iran, and Iran tries to help the Taliban to fight ISIS, but it does not destroy ISIS, because Iran’s agenda is to keep the crisis alive. The Kabul government and ISIS. As they are fighting each other, IRGC will continue to build strong Shi’a agents, “Barrami said.

In this article, the Epoch Times talks with global analysts, lawmakers, ideological leaders, and the general public in Afghanistan to give a broader perspective on the domestic situation in the series “The Changing Situation of Afghanistan During the Withdrawal of U.S. Forces” The third in the series. You can read the first and second articles Here And Here..

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