Islamic Republic of Iran and Taliban; Hope or illusion?
A year after the Taliban’s surprising rise to power in Afghanistan, not only the hopes that the Islamic Republic of Iran had of having a relationship with this force have not been realized, but more problems and complications have emerged in the relations between Tehran and the Taliban.
The indisputable fact is that the Islamic Republic (Iranian government) has had tense relations with an important part of the world (Europe and America) since its inception, but it has also faced a difficult relationship with its neighbor to the east, a neighbor that Its instability has had an impact on Iran’s various social, economic and security fields from different directions.
Iran’s approach in the first 25 years of instability in Afghanistan, that is, until the American attack on this country and the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, for various reasons, did not show any initiative and effective role-playing, and was more reactionary than active.
The ideological hostility between the Taliban and the Islamic Republic (concentrated and radical narratives of two different branches within Islam) as well as the strong influence of the Taliban on the rival regional powers of the Islamic Republic of Iran, usually created the conditions that should have led to the fall of the Taliban in 2001. In Kabul, bring the deep satisfaction of the Iranian government.
Islamic Republic and a situation that he did not expect
In addition to the previous motivations, Iran also considered the possibility of influencing a new situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban will probably become part of the power in Kabul.
Before the complete collapse of Ghani’s government, it was desirable for Iran, like the United States, that due to the political and military equations in Afghanistan, the Taliban would soon become a part of the power based in Kabul, and it would be ruled out that the monopoly of power would fall into its hands like in the first period of their rule. . But the trends that took place in Afghanistan in the days leading up to August 15, 2021, practically destroyed all these perceptions and assessments. Although some of the radical fundamentalists in Iran were delighted by the Taliban’s monopoly in Afghanistan and “the humiliating defeat of America and the arrogance of the West”, but in practice, the Islamic Republic again faced one of the most difficult situations in regulating its relations with its eastern neighbor.
The first major problem in the new situation was the flood of new refugees, who were either afraid of suppression and obstruction or disappointed with any economic and social prospects in the conditions of the Taliban’s exclusive power in Afghanistan.
The attempt to remove the Taliban from under the influence of Iran’s rival powers in the region has mostly remained an illusion and a dream. It is true that in the past months there have been some disruptions in the relations between the Taliban and its primary supporter and promoter, i.e. Pakistan, but the warm and multilateral relations of the new rulers of Kabul with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar cannot be compared to their tense relations with Tehran.
From the border dispute and Hirmand’s claim to the comprehensive government
The tension between the Taliban and the Iranian government is manifested both in the occasional clashes between its forces and the Iranian border guards, and in the unsolved problem of the Hirmand claim, which the Taliban have no motivation or interest in solving.
In the early months of the Taliban gaining power, Tehran’s emphasis and hope was that the Taliban would open the doors of power and form an inclusive government with the presence of all ethnic groups and groups, including the Shia Hazaras. Now, not only Shiite events have been more or less removed from the Afghan calendar, and efforts to marginalize the Persian language continue, but there is no sign of the Taliban’s desire to share power. There are no signs that indicate that the Taliban are changing from an armed jihadist movement to a responsible government, and that the danger of their extreme worldview and their special interpretation of the principles and rules of Islam for the region and neighboring countries is decreasing.
Although they have given up their previous enmity with the symbols and manifestations of new technologies such as television and the Internet, there has been no change in their views and practices regarding the rights of women and minorities, and going beyond the Pashtun view of Afghanistan as a whole. The commitments they made in the Doha negotiations with the US or immediately after taking power in Kabul are now lost among the documents and papers. The severe needs of the Taliban for international economic aid and global recognition have not caused them to show flexibility in this field and not to close the space even more.
Now, the presence and strong influence of the Haqqani network in the core of the Taliban’s power is both a sign of the strength of this trend in the type of governance in Kabul, and it also affects other trends near and far and their elimination or attraction. For Tehran, it is not without reason to worry that with the direct or indirect help of the new rulers of Kabul in the Sunni areas of Iran, including in Baluchistan, the areas for the growth of tendencies aligned and sympathetic to the Taliban will increase.