Cheer and Fear from Iran as Coalition Troops Exit Afghanistan
By Aaron Brest
As the Biden administration nears completion with withdrawal efforts in Afghanistan, Tehran fears the consequences of a Taliban un-countered by NATO, contrary to their claimed leanings towards foreign disinvolvement.
Iran is an outspoken supporter of the end of foreign intervention in Afghanistan, seeing peacekeeping efforts as fruitless and continuously harmful. Among the nations adjacent to the conflict, Iran seeks a stable and cooperative neighbour along with mitigating the effects of the Afghani diaspora—from which Iran has received an estimated 2.5 million refugees.
In addition to the denouncement of intervention, Iran has historically aided the Taliban in their endeavours against coalition forces and has maintained circumstantially good relations with the Sunni organisation, inspite of Iran’s state religion of Shia Islam. However, this fundamental difference has often made both groups at odds with each other, especially with the Taliban’s treatment of Shiite minorities within Afghanistan—usually taking the form of murder if said peoples didn’t convert to Sunni Islam.
In this regard, experts—such as Sajjan M. Gohel—believe that this goodwill displayed by Afghanistan serves to quell any hostile sentiment towards Iran from the Taliban. As foreign powers draw out of Afghanistan, along with the halting of further direct intervention, Iran now can only rely on the fruits of their investment in the Taliban or the Afghan Armed Forces’s continued suppression to prevent the extremist group from further sights upon Iran.
With Afghan forces failing to acquit themselves in this year's Taliban offensive thus far—losing 139 provinces along with 2800 soldiers to both death and desertion, Tehran waits in anticipation for closure.