Iranian officials have expressed their support for the Afghan people in the wake of the recent instability in Afghanistan, and blamed foreign military presence as a factor causing security issues in the country.
"Afghanistan's security is very important for Iran, but security in Afghanistan should be ensured by Afghans themselves," Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said in a phone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on July 4.
The Taliban group has recently expanded its control in Afghanistan after US-led troops began withdrawing from the country on May 1. Since then, military violence has escalated and the Taliban have taken over other more territory.
Following the withdrawal of US military forces from the Bagram airbase, near Kabul, and the expected end of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s mission in Afghanistan, some reports suggested a continued presence of 1,000 military forces of NATO in Afghanistan, mostly US troops, which have been stationed to protect the embassies of NATO member states and Kabul International Airport.
In a meeting with Amir Gol Shahin, Chairman of the Cultural Commission of the Afghan Parliament, Iranian Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Vahid Jalalzadeh emphasized Iran's support for Afghanistan, saying that the presence of foreign troops in the region has caused instability.
"As Iran’s Supreme Leader has said, Iran will defend Afghan people's interests and will stand with them for peace and stability," Jalalzadeh added.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, a former member of Iran’s Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, blamed the US for causing the crisis in Afghanistan, saying that "the United States seeks to insinuate that there will be no security in Afghanistan without the presence of US troops."
"Even if we assume that ISIL is the cause of the unrest in Afghanistan, the whole world knows very well that the main supporter of ISIL is the US," Boroujerdi said in an interview with the Mehr news agency.
According to Iranian media, several countries, including Iran closed their consulates in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh Province, in the wake of the deteriorating security situation. The Iranian consulate in Mazar-e Sharif had been evacuated but Iran's other representative offices in Kabul, Herat and Jalalabad have remained operational.
Rasoul Mousavi, the South Asia bureau secretary of the Iranian foreign ministry said on July 2 that "the main issue for Taliban is not securing geographical control but trying to secure international legitimacy and recognition."
He stressed that whether Iran accepts the Taliban or not it is for the Afghans to decide about their future. "It is important for us to know what kind of conduct they will show with their neighboring countries and the people of Afghanistan," Mousavi added.
After the rise of the Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan in 2015, Iran reportedly increased cooperation with the Taliban in order to secure its border, much of which lies in areas under Taliban control.
Afghan and US officials have repeatedly accused Iran, specifically the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, of providing financial and military support to Taliban forces in exchange for the disruption of infrastructure projects that would give Afghanistan greater control over the water supply to Iran. However, Tehran has repeatedly rejected allegations that it aids the group, describing such claims as being instigated by the United States in an attempt to divert public opinion from the real cause of violence in Afghanistan.