Iran and Hamas on Monday effusively welcomed the final capitulation of the Afghan government to Taliban insurgents over the weekend, praising the hardline Islamist organization for its “brave leadership” in defeating the “American occupation.”
As reports poured in from around the country of Taliban fighters seizing unmarried girls to serve as sex slaves and carrying out executions of members of the Afghan military, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi gushed over the “defeat” of the US, claiming that the Taliban’s violent seizure of power reflected “the reign of the will of the wronged people of Afghanistan.”
The theological and political divide between Shi’a Iran and the ultraconservative Sunni Islam of the Taliban has not prevented cooperation between the two in the past. During this year alone, at least two delegations of Taliban leaders have visited Tehran for talks with the leaders of the Islamic Republic.
In July, as Taliban fighters reported significant advances on the ground, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told a visiting delegation of Taliban chieftains that his regime stood ready to support negotiations involving Afghanistan’s armed factions. At a press conference that followed the private discussions, Zarif — a key architect of the ill-fated US-led 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program — hailed the Taliban’s “defeat” of US troops after 20 years of war.
“We are proud to have stood alongside our noble Afghan brothers and sisters during the jihad against the foreign occupiers,” Zarif declared at the time.
Separately, the presence of a Taliban delegation in Tehran in January was depicted as an exercise in realpolitik by a regime spokesperson.
“The Taliban is part of today’s reality in Afghanistan,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated, insisting at the same time that Iran had not forgotten its “martyrs in Mazar-e-Sharif” — a reference to the execution by the Taliban of a group of Iranian diplomats in the northern Afghan city in 1998.
Meanwhile, Iran’s ally in Gaza, the Hamas terrorist organization, similarly cheered the Taliban’s takeover of the Afghan capital Kabul in a statement published on social media by one of its main spokesmen.
“Today the Taliban is victorious after it used to be accused of backwardness and terrorism,” said Musa Abu Marzouk, a member of the Hamas political bureau. “Now, the Taliban is more clever and more realistic. It has faced America and its agents, refusing half-solutions with them. The Taliban was not deceived by the slogans of democracy and elections and fake promises.”
Abu Marzouk continued: “This is a lesson for all oppressed peoples. Will they learn the moral of this story?”
Taliban leaders have also held cordial meetings with their Hamas counterparts. On Monday, several social media feeds ran photographs of an encounter that took place in Doha, the capital of Qatar, shortly after the hostilities between Israel and Hamas ended in May. The Hamas delegation was led by Ismail Haniyeh, the Qatar-based head of the Hamas political bureau, with Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader — slated to be the next President of Afghanistan — leading the Taliban envoys.
At the meeting, Barader offered Hamas “congratulations” for its “victory” over the IDF during the fighting in May.
In a column for Canada’s National Post on Monday, Terry Glavin — a journalist who has traveled frequently to Afghanistan — observed that Baradar “was sprung from a Pakistani prison at the request of the Trump administration three years ago.”
Glavin said that Baradar was “a co-founder of the Taliban and a senior figure in the Pakistan-sponsored Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan that enslaved Afghan women and ransacked Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.” He noted that it was Baradar who “happily signed the February 2020 ‘peace agreement” with the Trump administration.”
1st published in The Algemeiner.