Taliban, Iran, Qatar and Pakistan, A Dangerous Quad

Taliban representative in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Al Jazeera.

The Taliban’s stunning victory in Afghanistan was met with horror throughout much of the Western world. It was a slightly different story in some quarters of Pakistan. A few days after militants seized Kabul, a white-and-black Taliban flag was flying from the roof of a radical mosque here in Islamabad.

Social media showed government officials celebrating, and Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Taliban had broken the shackles of slavery. The jubilation signalled the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan was a win for Pakistan’s government for the militants.

Pakistan’s ISI Connection

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has a long history of close ties with the Taliban and terrorist organizations.

When Chris Cuomo (now CCN host and formerly ABC host) asked Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, So I ask you, how could you not have known that OBL was somewhere so easy to find?

Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf said: Well, it is indeed a big, uh, blunder. It’s a big slip up for the intelligence, but I doubt (inaudible) is clear. It doesn’t appeal to my logic. And you say, I mean, how come so many people around the house who all recognize OBL? It’s a household name everywhere in most of the world; how come they didn’t know OBL was there? So this is a very nagging doubt in my mind that this isn’t logically possible.

Since 9/11, Pakistan has received almost $35 billion in defense aid; however, Pakistan is never transparent with the U.S. official about the intention and role Pakistan Army played to keep OBL in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Former President Donald Trump promised to withdraw troops from Afghanistan either by May 2021. Now Biden administration has withdrawn troops from Afghanistan by 31 August 2021.

The attempt to recreate the Northern Alliance with the NRF was spoiled by a lack of support from the United States. China was quick to fill the vacuum to support Taliban insurgents to gain access to rare earth minerals of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has long been seen as backing the Taliban in defiance of the rest of the world. But now that they have seized control of Afghanistan, that relationship is even better. Pakistan trained Taliban special forces “Badri 313” to guard Kabul airport. Pakistan sent its special forces and drones to fight NRF in Panjshir Valley.  

Qatari Intention

Taliban has established one office in Doha, Qatar. Taliban also establish links with Iran, the Russian Federation, China and also India. At the moment, Pakistan is jubilating, but Pakistan will face some problems just due to these rifts soon.

The relationship between Qatar and the Taliban is anything but new. As early as 2013, Qatar allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha with the support of the U.S. administration under Barack Obama.

At the time, Washington was looking for a neutral place to negotiate with the Islamist militia to prepare the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

I think the idea behind Doha initiating talks with the Taliban was the recognition that there may never be an outright military victory against them in Afghanistan, and that — absent such a victory — it may be necessary to bring them in as part of a political solution, Elham Fakhro, an expert on Gulf states at the International Crisis Group, reported D.W.

Qatar has a problematic past tie with various terrorist organizations and funded several conflicts in the region. The Doha-based TV station Al-Jazeera has been giving the Taliban a platform to address the public for years. The station also broadcast the Taliban’s entry into the presidential palace in Kabul. Qatar has been presenting itself as a mediator in regional politics for almost two decades.

The prospects for cooperation there are too tempting. There is “One Belt – One Road”, no matter what paths Afghans take, and the Taliban looks towards China for recognition. Hundreds of billions have already arrived in Islamabad and make Pakistan the worst debt-stricken country globally, thanks to Chinese debt diplomacy. China worries about its Xinjiang province and minority group Uyghurs, leading to the Taliban’s recognition by the Chinese authority.

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Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China, is a vast region of deserts and mountains. It’s home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uyghur people.

Qatar’s influence over the Taliban would allow Qatar to negotiate with China for better arms deals. Qatar’s recent acquisition of SY-400 ballistic missile is evidence of Qatari intention.

Iran’s Shiite Proxies

Iran is a country that has long been battling an imposed economic isolation. While some Iranian leaders may be celebrating the withdrawal of American forces, the Taliban ascendancy, in financial terms, serves to deepen Iran’s economic isolation.

Over the last year, Iranian leaders have kept lines of communication open with the Taliban, anticipating the eventual U.S. withdrawal. They now appear to be seeking some kind of accommodation with the Taliban and are concerned by the prospect of rising instability in Afghanistan. For the moment, the outlines of any political agreement between the two remain wholly unclear, although Tehran is likely to focus on preventing new refugee flows and weapons and drug smuggling. Meanwhile, Afghan refugees are flooding in Iranian border to escape the brutal Taliban regime.

Iran also has a long history of terrorist funding, training and arming terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa.

It is unlikely that developments in Afghanistan will alter Iran’s level of support for proxies in Syria and particularly Iraq; backing proxies is already a strategic priority. But if the sectarian divide between Iran and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan sharpens, Iran could further rely on the Shiite proxies that it has trained and armed. The new Iranian government has pledged to prioritize relations in the immediate neighborhood more than its predecessor, who spent much of its time trying to draw Western investors and dealing with the nuclear issue.

The Taliban, with the Qatari and Iranian funds, divert attention towards a terrorist organization. Taliban already established Iranian styled supreme leader who can dictate extreme views of the Shiite franchise of Muslim religion.

Iran has opposed the U.S. presence in the region for many years. With the Islamic revolution of 1979, this country with such deep extreme views of the West that it was difficult to shake them and practically impossible. The new Taliban seems to acquire a new romantic view of Iran and its extremism.  

The FBI still has a bounty on Taliban leadership, precisely as a terrorist organization, has long settled in Qatar.

But Qatar is also known as an almost complete satellite of Iran. The leaders of Qatar, where the 4th emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is now in power, went to bow to Iran because of ideological and economic disagreements with neighbors – Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

With the help from Turkey and Iran, Qatar, for a long time was survived economic blockade by almost all other Arab countries.

To Summarize

The situation can be described as more dangerous than pre-9/11 Afghanistan, and the Taliban is not in power, but they are brutally executing the “ideological Taliban” in Afghanistan. Taliban is in no hurry to spread their view of Shiite Islam, but make no assumptions about Taliban version 2.0. The same beared male still runs the Taliban. The Taliban will spread terrorist ideology in the Indian state of Kashmir, Xinjiang Province of China, Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia.  

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