There are worrying indications that the Afghan peace process might soon hit a stumbling block. Interested stakeholders would do well to monitor the situation and developments in the coming weeks and months. Tehran has now joined the fray; the recent joint statement by the Iranian govt and the Taliban which blamed the US for disrupting peace in the region and not adhering to the terms of the agreement signed in February is indicative of a new twist in Afghanistan.
What is important to note is that Tehran did not approach the Afghan government, but the Taliban—the purported enemies of the US military complex. This is by no means an accident—Iran looks to be following the old mantra of befriending the enemies of one’s own adversaries. But with violence increasing in Afghanistan with the Taliban as a prime suspect, the balance of power in the intra-Afghan negotiations process looks to be firmly shifting in favour of the Taliban. The non-state actor is doing well on the guerrilla battlefield, has managed to extricate itself from having to deal directly with the US, and now also have a neighbouring country backing its stance of ending foreign intervention in the region.
The Afghan government and the new US administration must take note. The new President has expressed a willingness to renegotiate a deal with Iran and hinted towards finding a peaceful solution in Afghanistan, but the longer it takes for a tangible policy to take shape, the more likely it is that the patience of Tehran and the Afghan Taliban will wear thin.
President Biden must publicly announce where he will steer US foreign policy in the region in the months to come. If overtures to Tehran have to be made, this must be done immediately. It has been almost a year since the peace deal was first struck. If the US does not make attempts to save it soon, we might have another outbreak of violence in Afghanistan as a result.