Friday, September 30, 2011

Tehran-Taliban: Positioning for a better read of the West's epitaph!

'Rabbani & Hezbollah's Naim Qassem in Tehran'
"KABUL — Iran quietly hosted a delegation of Taliban members in Tehran this month in a powerful and unusual signal of its ambition to shape the trajectory of the Afghanistan conflict as U.S. troops begin to withdraw.
Iranian officials had apparently hoped to facilitate a meeting between the delegation and Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president and leader of the country’s reconciliation efforts, who was attending the same conference in Tehran, his associates said. Although that did not happen, the presence of the Taliban members suggests Iran has cultivated deeper ties with the insurgent group than was previously known and is stepping up efforts to influence its eastern neighbor as the U.S. role recedes.
The relationship between Iran and the Taliban’s central leadership has long been deeply fraught; when the Taliban was running Afghanistan in the 1990s, the two countries came to the brink of war.
U.S. officials have for years accused Iran of fueling the Afghanistan war by providing training and sophisticated weapons to its favored insurgent commanders, although they have described Tehran’s role as minimal compared with other regional players. There have been few signs of senior-level contact between the Taliban and Iran.
Hosting Taliban members at the Tehran conference might have been an attempt by Iran to mend ties as it becomes clear that the group will be a major power broker in Afghanistan after the United States withdraws ..."

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