Taliban delegation arrive in Tehran for peace talks

By bne IntelIiNews January 26, 2021

A political delegation of the Taliban has arrived in Tehran for talks on how to bring about peace in Afghanistan, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported on January 26.

A Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organisation who first emerged in the Afghan Civil War in 1994 and refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), the Taliban have resisted all efforts by successive US administrations to eradicate them or drive them into obscurity. Following the withdrawal of a substantial number of US troops during the final weeks of the Trump administration, the Taliban is again directly challenging the elected government of Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, which is fully supported by the Iranian clerical regime.

The Taliban delegation is led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban co-founder and commander. It arrived in Tehran “with coordination made in advance and at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

Members of the group are expected to hold meetings with Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan.

Shi’ite state Iran and the Taliban have been sworn enemies over the past three decades, and the Taliban have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranian troops along the Iranian-Afghanistani border. However, a consensus is developing in regional capitals that efforts must be made to bring the group in line with wider regional changes if economic development in Afghanistan, which would benefit surrounding countries, is to occur.

A senior Taliban commander in Helmand province was on January 25 quoted by the Bulwark as saying that the Taliban’s long struggle “and sacrifices of thousands of our people have finally yielded fruit”. “

“We proved to the entire world that we have defeated the self-proclaimed world’s lone superpower,” he reportedly added.

The news of the Taliban delegation comes as Afghanistan and Iran prepare to launch a cross-border passenger train service later this year from Herat to Khaf in Iran. Cargo trains will also operate on the line.

Afghanistan is yet to complete its section of the railway, which would run north of territory held by the Taliban and within the zone of influence of Iran’s business community. The main trading point for that community is the Persian-speaking Herat province. 

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