South Asia and Beyond

Taliban Team In Tehran

Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy chief and head of its political office in Doha, Qatar, is in Iran leading a delegation to “talk about relations between the two countries” and “the current political and security situation,” Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem announced on social media. Iran “has informed the Government of Afghanistan about the visit and has requested and received (its)views in this regard,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said with spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh mentioning talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian and other officials. The statement added, “Tehran informed the Taliban on the existence of a regional consensus on an immediate ceasefire and a comprehensive peace agreement within the framework of the Republic system and preservation of Afghanistan’s constitutional values.”

This is Mullah Baradar’s second publicly known official visit to Tehran. He met Zarif in November 2019. The Sunni group’s ex-head Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a 2016 U.S. drone strike in Pakistan while reportedly returning from Shia-majority Iran. Baradar’s visit comes with the second round of intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha yielding little result. On January 23, U.S. President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan conveyed to his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib a “review” of the U.S.-Taliban deal “to assess whether the Taliban is living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce Afghan violence and to engage in meaningful negotiations.” On the Taliban’s talks in Iran, former Afghan Presidential advisor Torek Farhadi tweeted his opinion, saying “(it) is more to impress the new U.S. administration that (Iran) can also ‘manage’ the Taliban. Just like Islamabad, Iran wants to show influence on the Taliban to demonstrate their relevance in the peace process.”