Afghan Taliban: Refuse to be Drawn in US – Iran Conflict
Taliban has demonstrated savviness in avoiding being embroiled in the tensions pertaining to US and Iran after the killing of the Iranian elite force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack ordered by President Donald Trump on 3 January at the Baghdad airport.
Taliban leaders have acknowledged to the media that the confrontation will certainly have an impact on the peace talks between the US and the Taliban
However the group is unwilling for any armed intervention at this stage on the side of Iran or the US.
Iran has an influence on the Taliban faction of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, which is mostly stationed in the western and southern parts of Afghanistan. “The Taliban are patriotic people. They do not want the Afghan soil to be used for others’ interests… and they do not want to do anything that they will be hated here in Afghanistan in the future,” a former Taliban commander Sayed Akbar Agha said as per the Tolonews. This comes even as talks are set to open between the Taliban and the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad this week
Ironically Iraq has somehow played a major role in the situation in Afghanistan with reference to the US intervention.
It was diversion of US forces from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2003 by then US President George W Bush chasing a mirage so to say in that country of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons that allowed the resurgence of the Taliban with a depleted presence of US forces on the ground in Afghanistan and lack of an indigenous force to deter its return.
Now once again an event in Iraq the killing of the Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani may lead to an impact in Afghanistan the contours of which are not clear so far and could lead to the Taliban hardening their stand on the peace talks with the US insisting on a pull out before further steps as they would not like to be embroiled in the US Iran conflict.
The Taliban on the other hand could be approached by Iran given recent contacts for carrying out strikes on American assets in Afghanistan. At present though the group is non committal either way.