Reuters reported Friday that western countries(link is external) were preparing to evacuate diplomatic staff from Kabul. In a tweet Wednesday after meeting with European ambassadors in Tehran, Mousavi had urged Europe to act before the collapse of all structures in Afghanistan: “Tomorrow would be too late.” Reuters cited a US defense official who said the Taliban could take Kabul within 90 days.
US planes have carried out strikes against Taliban targets this week, while President Joe Biden has defended his decision to go ahead with troop withdrawals agreed by previous president Donald Trump with the “Islamic Emirate” (the Taliban) in February 2020(link is external), ending a 19-year military presence that has cost $2 trillion.
The looming return to power of the Taliban poses challenges for Iran, which co-operated with the US in its 2020 invasion having had bitter relations with the Taliban going back before 1998. Herat’s capture by the Taliban could unleash an influx of refugees to Iran(link is external), which already hosts millions of Afghan refugees and economic migrants, putting further stress on Iran’s sanctioned economy and healthcare system.
On July 8 the Taliban seized two important border crossings with Iran, at Islam Qala in Herat province and at Abu Nasr Farahi in western Farah province, when Iran-brokered talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government had just concluded with a joint statement pledging commitment to a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict.
Hamshahri newspaper on Wednesday reported that thousands of Afghans who had fled to Iran’s Hirmand, in Sistan-Baluchestan province, after the Taliban takeover of Zaranj had returned to Afghanistan. The paper also reported that 145 Afghan military personnel who had fled to Iran were flown back to Kabul with their vehicles and equipment handed over to the Iranian army. Iranian border guards and army were trying to control border crossings to prevent an influx of refugees, the newspaper reported.