On September 17, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi stated that "in the framework of Iran's comprehensive consultations with all parties in Afghanistan, a Taliban political delegation visited our country recently to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan."
The Taliban’s visit to Tehran in light of US capitulation after 18 years of war has great geopolitical ramifications for Central Asia.
When the US launched its illegal war of aggression on Afghanistan in October 2001, Islamic Iran did not support Washington’s unilateral action. Neither did Tehran at first support the Taliban resistance to the US.
Being quite a reactionary Islamic movement, back in the day, many in the Taliban were contaminated by Saudi exported Wahhabi ideas.
Iran’s neutral role during the US attack on Afghanistan was utilized by Saudi-funded “Islamic” organizations to portray Iran as a party to US aggression.
Whichever propaganda narrative one chooses to believe, it is important to ask, how could Tehran have supported the Taliban when they did not even recognize Iran as a Muslim country, much less an Islamic governing system?
The centuries-old takfiri creed exported by the Saudis to Afghanistan deliberately portrayed Shia Muslims as “kaafir” and shedding their blood to be “halal.”
Circumstances have clearly changed. Based on analysis from open sources, it seems that after the first decade of war, Iran and the Taliban began to see each other in a different light.
It appears that after 18 years of resistance, the Taliban have matured into a sophisticated socio-political movement and can conduct politics outside of the narrow Wahhabi mindset.
Once the US troops leave Afghanistan, the current Washington-propped regime in Kabul will share the destiny of the South Vietnamese government after the humiliating American defeat in Vietnam.
This reality explains why Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesperson for the Afghan government, condemned Iran’s meeting with the Taliban (He has not dared to condemn nine rounds of talks between the US and Taliban!).
The emerging reality is that soon Taliban will gain control of Kabul and rule Afghanistan. They already control more than 70% of the country.
If Shia Iran and Sunni Afghanistan, both ruled by Islamic movements rooted in their commitment to traditional Islamic scholarship and worldview, establish a reasonable working relationship, there will be a new geopolitical dynamic in Central Asia that can contribute positively to durable peace in the region.
All this will naturally depend on the degree of covert sabotage the US will indulge in after its retreat from Afghanistan and how the Taliban manage the country’s affairs.
If the Taliban manage to de-escalate intra-Afghan tensions and incline towards a strong economic partnership with Pakistan and Iran, Afghanistan can turn into a rising phoenix of Central Asia.