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Afghan-Taliban ceasefire to end


Afghan-Taliban ceasefire to end

Afghan government forces
Photo: EPA/Jalil Rezayee

The three-day Eid al-Adha ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban comes to an end today.

Iran has praised the brief ceasefire and emphasised its willingness to broker peace talks between the warring sides in Afghanistan. As the US prepares to gradually withdraw from Afghanistan as per the Afghan-Taliban peace deal, the emerging power vacuum provides an opportunity for Iran to become more involved in inter-Afghan talks.

Though the US and Iran pursue conflicting foreign policy agendas in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, increased Iranian engagement in Afghanistan could serve both countries’ interests. Iran, like the US, wishes for an end to the decades of conflict and to establish a more stable and secure Afghanistan where Sunni extremist groups such as the Islamic State and Taliban no longer dominate the battleground and political sphere.

Post-9/11, the US and Iran have had a little-known record of cooperation on Afghanistan that includes bilateral talks and military and intelligence sharing. Recently, the US and Iran have again agreed to hold talks on Afghanistan.

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However, despite the scope for cooperation, the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran—including the assassination of al-Quds commander Qasim Soleimani—has caused it to further distrust the US, raising the likelihood that Iran will work against US interests in Afghanistan.

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