The departure of the US and the return of the Taliban government in Afghanistan has remarkable consequences not only for the region but also for international politics. Iran always observed US presence in the region as insecurity and the resistance is the only well-founded response and that is why Iran aided Taliban resistance in Afghanistan. According to Iran, the US withdrawal is a golden opportunity for Afghanistan and the region to restore life, develop durable peace, and maintain security.
Moreover, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is ascertained as a positive development for Iran because Iran erstwhile has United States forces on its eastern and western borders, and it is understandable that Tehran desires that the US will subsequently withdraw its forces from Iraq. However, Iran and Afghanistan had not good connections in the past. They almost went to war in 1998, when the Taliban put an end to 11 Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan. But after the events of 9/11 and Taliban resistance to the US existence in Afghanistan, the Iran and Taliban relations have shifted and their tensions took a back seat.
In addition to this Iran welcomed the Taliban, made public contacts with them and their connection started to attract the attention of the international community. The connection between Iran and the Taliban has strengthened because their enemies are common such as the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) and the United States.
The US had imposed sanctions on Iran over the past three years due to which Iran suffered a lot now Tehran is looking for any opportunity in Afghanistan to avoid the US pressure. When The U.S. failed in maintaining peace and security in Afghanistan it urged Iran to think that they can defeat the U.S. forces elsewhere in the region by using sponsored militias.
Iran has one of the few countries whose embassy is still open in Kabul. Countries other than Iran such as China, Russia, Turkey are looking for opportunities in Afghanistan and Iran wants to make good connections with China and Russia to gain power in the region and become more stable.
Apart from potential geopolitical advantages, the Taliban takeover may also generate economic opportunities for Iran. For regional policy, economic gains, and national security of Iran, Afghanistan is very important. Iran’s behavior towards the Taliban will not change and will move towards more positive developments.
Furthermore, the terrorist and refugees are the major security threat to Iran that is why Iran wants to prevent terrorist infiltration from Afghanistan, control cross bordering of refugees, sharing water resources, and ensuring the safety of Afghanistan’s Shia minority. The other interests are economic because Iran is the largest exporter to Afghanistan. The vice president of the Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, Aladdin Mir-Mohammad-Sadeghi shared his view that if their relations with the Taliban get strong and the Taliban keep their promise so their trade will boost to $3 billion.
Lastly, Iran is inclined to cooperate with the Taliban government for their interests in Afghanistan and in the region notwithstanding the ideological and religious differences, to preserve their interests in Afghanistan, particularly if Iran’s economic and security interests are fulfilled and safeguarded by the Taliban they will not think of shifting its policy and will not shake hands with the opponents.
The Iran Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is likely to demonstrate functional in developing association with the Taliban to diversify Iranian regional influence, ameliorating Iran’s ties with its neighbors, and soothing tension in the region. The new geopolitical landscape, Iran hopes, will assign it with a chance to look forward toward its relations with China and Russia by introducing itself as the Middle East’s indispensable power.
Author: Shanza Malik
About Author: Author is student of BS International Relations from International Islamic University, Islamabad.