Iran is glad the Americans are gone, but the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan creates a host of problems for Tehran, with no easy solutions.
But when the United States finally left Afghanistan in August, the swift Taliban takeover caught Iran off guard, as the New York Times reports.
Suddenly, Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocracy, had a militant Sunni theocracy on its border that is widely seen as anti-Shiite. The upheaval has also sent a flood of Afghan refugees into Iran, has led to fears that Afghanistan will again become an incubator for terrorism, and has trapped Iranian leaders in a diplomatic tangle in dealing with a Taliban government seen as both a potential enemy and partner.
The episode has turned into a classic lesson in “be careful what you wish for.”
“Iran has come to understand that the enemy’s enemy is not your friend, and the Taliban are a more complex problem than Americans,” said Mohammad Hossein Emadi, a former Iranian diplomat who advised Afghanistan’s government and worked in the country for the United Nations. “The consensus is to deal with the Taliban very carefully and pragmatically.”
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