Iran worries Islamic State will return to Afghanistan with Taliban arrival

TEHRAN, BM, ($1=42,105.00 Iranian Rials) – Iranian media in the country are playing different options, what will happen to Afghanistan after the last American soldier leaves the country in the coming weeks. The conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan believes that Iran is facing future problems along the border with Afghanistan and expects more clashes than a possible peaceful coexistence between Shiites and the Taliban.

Iran has a large border with Afghanistan – nearly 900 km. There are already rumors in Tehran that the Islamic State will return to Afghanistan under the guise of the growing influence of the Taliban, who claim to already control 85% of the country’s territory.

In our analysis, we said that US intelligence expects the Kabul government to collapse in the next six months. The Taliban controls areas around major centers in Afghanistan, where much of the Afghan army is located. There are two options: military clashes between them, or forcing Kabul to form a coalition government in which the Taliban will be the predominant force.

Iran is worried about both options because it sees a continuing influx of Afghan immigrants to the country, where 4% of Afghanistan’s population currently lives. AFP reports that Iran is currently trying to play a balancing force and hopes the border with Afghanistan will remain calm. But Tehran also recalls the chaos in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in power before 2001.

But if we forget for a moment the impending political and military crisis in this region, the inevitable humanitarian crisis comes to the fore. The World Health Organization predicts a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in the coming months. Although Kabul will receive drugs, vaccines for Covid-19, and respirators, dozens of medics and medical workers are fleeing places where the Taliban are attacking.

WHO Regional Director for Emergencies Rick Brennan said at least 18.4 million people needed humanitarian assistance, including 3.1 million children at risk of acute malnutrition.

This will be a second blow to Iran. If the Shiites manage to protect and defend the border areas with Afghanistan from military clashes, there is no guarantee, on the contrary, there is a serious possibility that the coronavirus epidemic will grow. Tehran does not like this news at all, especially at a time when the country is struggling with the fifth wave of Kovid-19.

Iran-Afghan relations

Iran has no problem with the Afghan population. To this day, Tehran does not recognize the Taliban as a solution to a problem or their rule. Tehran will have a hard time swallowing the events of 1998, when the Taliban stormed the Iranian consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing 10 diplomats and a journalist.

Iran’s Shiite rule has always had strained relations with the Taliban since 1996. Iran has strongly condemned al-Qaeda’s actions and attacks on the United States on 9/11. There was a time when the Iranian authorities allied with their other main enemy, the United States, to oppose the Taliban.

Nevertheless, Iran is calling for a balanced relationship. Seeing the Taliban as an enemy, Tehran realizes that without them, Afghanistan cannot exist. Most recently, senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaegani made a statement saying it would be naive and foolish to trust the Taliban.

Tehran believes the Taliban is a lesser evil than Islamic State. But Iranians do not miss the opportunity to claim that with the Taliban, the Islamic State will revive and return to Afghan territory, turning Kabul hostage to false patriotic ambitions that disguise the desired goal – destabilization of the region and strong radical Islamization, which will lead to new terrorist attacks against the west.

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