In the last stage of deviation of the coalition forces from Afghanistan, discussions about how the situation will change and which political actor will become a real threat in the region. Therefore the particular interest causes Iran, which in itself is in the center of variety of dangerous conflict situations (nuclear crisis, Syrian civil war, and the Arab-Israeli conflict)
It seems to clear that, Iran as a neighboring country with Afghanistan should not save neutrality concerning to this country. The World community pays special attention to the Iranian government’s closer contact with the Taliban regime.In fact, radical-Islamists from the Taliban group began to participate in conferences in Tehran within the invitation of the Iranian government. Some media groups claim up that, Iran and the Taliban form a unity against the US policy in the region. But experts do not pay attention to the rumors.
Charges and Denials
The powerful surge in the exposures connected with the possible cooperation of Iran with the “Taliban” and “Al-Qaeda”, occurred in 2010. The prime reason for denials was the official visit of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Kabul. The Minister of defense of the USA, Robert Gates accused Iran of maintaining “an ambiguous game” around the Afghanistan crisis and declared that “Iran wants the Afghan government to be friendly with them but does not wish it to achieve success”. According to the intelligence service, official Washington also declared that, Iran provides Taliban militants with weapons.
Finally, well-known Wikileaks has published thousands of documents which proved that the contacts on Iran with “Al-Qaeda” and other Sunni extremist organizations are closer than the community expected. According to these documents, Iranian high-ranking officials co-operated with Taliban and Al-Qaeda helping them to get weapons from Algeria and North Korea.
It is possible that, within the co-operation with Al Qaeda, Iran prepares for a counterattack in case of US and Israel’s attacks to the nuclear centers. That is why, Iran expects to accelerate withdrawal of the coalition troops from Afghanistan.
In May 2010, it was clearly made that, Iran had given permission to Al Qaeda to create its local office in Zahedan (a city in Iran). The Negotiations from the Iranian side was led by the Revolutionary Guards. As a demonstrative gesture the Iranian government released several high-ranking Al Qaeda figures out of prisons, Saif al Adel was among them who was determined, as a result of the investigation of the US Security Forces, to have connections to terror attacks to US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Another well-known figure was Suleyman Abu Qaet, the former spokesman of Al Qaeda during the terror attack on 11 September in the USA.
An expert on Afghanistan, Nikita Mendkovich acknowledges that, Iran «is interested in undermining Americans in Afghanistan, and also in resources which could be used to wage Guerrilla War against them in the Afghan territory».
It is necessary to notice that, Al Qaeda is also interested in the cooperation with Iran but at the same time «the decision on the union with the Taliban would be the extremely non-standard turn in the regional policy of Iran which is the Shiite state and traditionally refuses any ties with the Afghan radical Sunnites».
Iran looks for a tool to increase its influence in Afghanistan, acceleration of a withdrawal of the western troops, by adjustment of interaction with non Taliban and anti-Taliban paramilitary groups such as «Movement of National Revolt».
The leading argument about the possibility of Iran-Taliban unity is Sunni-Shiah contradiction. Obviously, it is not a serious obstacle. Iran’s closer contacts with Sunni radical organization HAMAS (relations spoiled after the Syrian crisis) through “Hizbollah”’s assistance can be shown as a clear example.The union with “Taliban” can become «a stone standing» of Iranian policy. Cooperation with terrorists can painfully strike on the reputation of the country not only in the West, but also in the Post-Soviet states and China for which Taliban and their radical allies pose a potential threat.
Fuad SHAHBAZOV – Analyst, Strategic Outlook
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