Iran 'in Contact' With Taliban, IRGC Commander Says as Militant Group Unveils New Government
13:00 GMT 08.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
On Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry stressed that Tehran is "making every effort" to help form "an inclusive government in Afghanistan that reflects the country's ethnic and demographic composition".
Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC) Quds Force, has made it clear that the Islamic Republic is "not surprised" by the dramatic developments in Afghanistan and "is in contact" with the Taliban*.
Speaking to lawmakers during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, Qaani underscored that Tehran is interested in maintaining security on the Afghan-Iranian border and in Afghans' rights being ensured under the new authorities, according to MP Seyyed Nizamuddin Mousavi.
Qaani reiterated Iran's support for an "inclusive" Afghan government, also accusing the US of trying to "pitch Shiite Iran against the Sunni world".
As for Afghanistan, about 90% of the predominantly Muslim population there, including Taliban militants, practice Sunni Islam, while around 10% of Afghan residents are Shias.
The Quds commander's "inclusive government" remarks came shortly before the Taliban announced the all-male interim Afghan government, where the militant group's members received all the ministerial posts.
One of the two deputies of the Taliban's supreme commander, Sirajuddin Haqqani
, has been appointed acting interior minister of Afghanistan.
7 September 2021, 18:51 GMT
He is suspected of organising a series of bombings in Kabul in 2008 and plotting the assassination of then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Haqqani is also wanted by the FBI over a January 2008 bombing that killed an American citizen.
The Taliban's announcement followed Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh telling reporters on Monday about Tehran's readiness to help form "an inclusive government" in Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters seized power on 15 August as a result of a rapid offensive amid the US and NATO troop exit from the country.
"It is the will of the people that must finally be realised and determine the future of Afghanistan, not foreign intervention or any other conspiracy. Certainly, lasting peace can only be achieved through intra-Afghan dialogue between all groups", Khatibzadeh emphasised.
Last month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that "America's defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security, and durable peace in Afghanistan". He added that Iran "invites all groups in Afghanistan to reach a national agreement" and "backs efforts to restore stability" in the war-torn country.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been heightened since then-US President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
, in May 2018 and the reinstatement of American sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
A year later, Iran announced it had started suspending some of its JCPOA obligations. The Biden administration, in turn, signalled a readiness to revive the Iran deal, with Tehran urging Washington to scrap all its sanctions against Iran as the main condition.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries.