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Iran to host conference on Afghanistan

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Iran to host conference on Afghanistan

Iran Taliban
Photo: Tasnim News/AFP/Getty

Iran’s foreign ministry will host a multilateral conference on Afghanistan in Tehran today with the South Asian country’s neighbors, as well as Russia.

The meeting will focus on ways to pressure the Taliban—a near-exclusively Pashtun group—to include ethnic and religious minorities in its government. The Taliban’s previous regime in Afghanistan was marked by repression of and conflict with these groups, a dynamic which inundated its neighbors with refugees and thereby fueled insurgencies.

The cash-strapped Taliban, which has motioned towards greater inclusivity in its new government but has also seized Hazara land, is in a bind. It must exercise tolerance to reopen commercial relations with its neighbors and access $9 billion in assets frozen abroad, but the more it does so, the more hardliners join the ISIS-K insurgency against the government.

Expect the Taliban to continue making symbolic gestures towards inclusion, but little else: ISIS-K is a significant threat, the Taliban is ideologically against tolerance, the US is unlikely to release frozen assets regardless of Taliban policy and Afghanistan’s neighbors—particularly Iran, which relies on the hard currency it receives from selling fuel to Afghanistan to escape American sanctions—cannot afford to threaten the Taliban with sanctions in response.

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