Guess what? After weeks of speculation and negotiations, the Afghanistan embassy in Tehran was “formally” handed over to the Taliban on Sunday afternoon. The outgoing ambassador of Afghanistan gave over all documents and equipment of the Afghanistan embassy in Tehran to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Taliban has appointed Fazl Mohammad Haqqani, the first secretary of the former ambassador of Afghanistan in Iran, as the group’s charge d’affaires in Tehran.
- Taliban’s Foreign Ministry announced the start of its activities in the presence of “its diplomats.”
- The ministry said in a statement that the embassy’s services to Afghan citizens in Iran “continued as normal”.
- The Taliban’s Foreign Ministry added that “changing diplomatic cadre is a common and legitimate matter of any country”.
- Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for the ministry, said, “We firmly believe that with the new designations, we will see transparency in the embassy’s affairs as well as further expansion of relations in various areas between the two Muslim countries, friends and brothers.”
- However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has called the handover of the Afghan embassy in Tehran to the Taliban a domestic matter related to Afghanistan and stressed that it has not “entered” into the matter.
- “The issue of the delivery and transformation of the Afghan Embassy in Tehran was an internal matter (related to Afghanistan) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran has not entered into this matter at all,” IRNA was quoted as saying.
- Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also added that it had not handed over documents, equipment or any other objects belonging to the Afghan Embassy in Tehran.
- The Taliban has also identified a person as consul general for the Afghan consulate in Mashhad.
- Zakir Jalali, an advisor to the Taliban’s foreign minister, said that the group’s seven diplomats left Kabul Airport for Tehran early Monday morning.
- The Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made the decision “so as not to delay the embassy’s work,” Jalali tweeted.
Between the lines: Many media reports state that the handover of the embassy was not as smooth as depicted by the Taliban. After the official handover of the Afghan embassy in Tehran to the Taliban, a former diplomat at the embassy said that the Taliban members who were present at the embassy have clashed with the country’s diplomats several times before.
- Bari, a Taliban member, attacked Mohammad Zaman Nuristani, the Afghan consul general at the embassy, with a knife. Earlier, dozens of diplomats and Afghan embassy staff in Tehran had stopped working to protest the Islamic Republic’s decision to hand over the embassy to the Taliban.
- And now, with the handover of the Afghan embassy in Tehran to the Taliban, concerns have been raised about the safety of Afghan citizens, especially former military personnel in the country.
Back story: Mohammad Afzal Haqqani was named as the ambassador to Iran, according to a letter from Afghanistan’s foreign ministry. The letter stated that Haqqani would be in charge of the diplomatic mission in Iran as the embassy’s first secretary.
- Initially, Haqqani had left Tehran for Kabul, returned to Tehran, and presented his letter of appointment as the Afghan Embassy’s chief. However, the Iranian Foreign Ministry had yet to accept Haqqani as the new ambassador to Tehran then.
- Abdul Qayum Sulaimani was the ambassador of the former Afghan government in Tehran.
- Earlier, some of these Afghan diplomats had decided to hand over the embassy to the foreign ministry of Iran instead of the Taliban.
Zoom out: The handover of the embassy has not gone down well for some stakeholders. The National Resistance Council for the Salvation of Afghanistan has also called the decision of the handover of the embassy to “a group whose sovereignty over Afghanistan is illegitimate” as “contrary to diplomatic norms and in contravention of Afghanistan’s national interests.”
- The National Resistance Front has reacted to the Taliban’s handover of the Afghan embassy in Tehran, describing it as questionable.
- The front issued a statement saying that efforts by the front and other political movements to dissuade Iran from the decision did not come to fruition in light of its consequences. “Handing over Afghanistan’s diplomatic mission in Iran to a group that is the killer of the Afghan people and whose leaders’ names are still on the UN blacklist, and yet no country in the world has been willing to establish formal diplomatic relations with it, is questionable and contains an unpleasant message to the people of Afghanistan and some other countries,” the front added.
- According to the National Resistance Front, the Taliban’s political presence in Iran, with its background, is risky for millions of migrants who have sought refuge in Iran out of fear, threats and pressure, and could cause further concern and unrest.