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Amid escalating war, Iran drums up support for Taliban

Tehran has been cultivating ties with the Taliban as it tries to hedge its bets in case militants regain power in Afghanistan

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KABUL: Iran’s foreign ministry says Taliban are part of Afghanistan as the group is rampaging across Afghanistan with violent attacks and peace talks are showing no signs of success.

 “Taliban are part of Afghanistan, its past and its future,” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzada on Monday at a press conference, “But they won’t all of Afghanistan’s future.”

He expressed Iran’s concerns over escalation of violence in Afghanistan, saying that Tehran wanted to facilitate talks between Afghans.

Regarding surging violence in the war-torn country, Khatibzada said, “It is no secret that violence in Afghanistan has risen to a worrying level, with some ethnic and religious minorities being oppressed.”

Khatibzada maintained that Iran is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan, saying that his country was in no hurry to comment on the possible fall of Afghan government.

“What is important is to preserve the achievements of the last two decades,” he said.

Iran has hosted the Taliban in Tehran several times and is seeking to strengthen ties with the Taliban, especially the group’s political leadership in Qatar.

Members of the Taliban visited Tehran in January. Tehran is playing its cards with the Taliban as it tries to hedge its bets in case militants regain power in Afghanistan.

This is as the Taliban have been intensifying their assault across Afghanistan and seized tens of district centres in recent weeks. The surge in violence ensued U.S. President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American and Nato troops from Afghanistan by September.

At the same time, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the Afghan High Reconciliation Council, said that his priority for peace was to build a regional and international consensus.

He criticized the Taliban for obstructing peace talks.

“Unfortunately, at the negotiating table, the progress that should have been made did not happen. It became very clear that the reason was the Taliban’s stubbornness, wasting time, discussing minor issues and not getting into the main issues.

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