Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, met yesterday Taliban negotiators to discuss their intentions towards Afghanistan’s future.
During the meeting, Taliban delegation were told by Zarif that they may have to make tough decisions.
Courage in peace was more important than courage in war, he said, arguing that courage lay in sacrificing maximalist demands and listening to the other side.
Zarif also said a continuation of conflicts between the government and the Taliban would have “unfavourable” consequences for Afghanistan, and a return to the intra-Afghan negotiations was the “best solution”. Iran has not attended the stalled Doha negotiations for over two years.
Saeed Laylaz, a prominent reformist-minded economist and adviser to previous governments, said: “Iran is facing a demographic crisis and I believe that the best, closest and least costly way to overcome this demographic crisis is to accept emigration from Afghanistan. Stability in Afghanistan is important for national security, contributing to the ageing crisis and Iran’s economy.
“The Taliban could not have survived so long without genuine political support and they might now serve Iran’s regional diplomatic interests. The Taliban are no longer the Taliban of the past, they have also realised that we must interact with the world, we must cooperate with the countries of the region.”
The director general of the west Asia office at Iran’s foreign ministry, Rasoul Mousavi, also sounded sympathetic if more reserved. “The Taliban are from the Afghan people,” Mousavi said. “They are not separated from Afghanistan’s traditional society, and they have always been part of it. Moreover, they have military power. The US has lost the war and can no longer carry out a military operation against the Taliban.”
For its part, Russia has sought assurances that the Taliban will not allow Afghanistan’s northern borders to be used as a base for attacks on the former Soviet republics.
Violence spreads across Afghanistan as the US military prepares its withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 2021, a deadline set by US President Joe Biden to end America’s longest war.