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Iran’s Long-Standing Strategic ‘Hedging’ in Afghanistan to Intensify Due to US Troop Withdrawal

Iran has long claimed to support political stabilization in neighboring Afghanistan while at the same time expanding its ties with the Taliban, a contradictory policy that’s likely to breed more chaos and violence as the Sept. 11 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan draws closer, experts say. This policy of simultaneously supporting the Afghan government and the Taliban—what the experts call “hedging”—is done with an intention to exert greater political influence once the United States withdraws. “Today, the Iranian government backs the Afghani constitution while its IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] trains and weaponizes the Taliban,” Hamid Bahrami, a former Iranian political prisoner and independent Middle East analyst based in Glasgow, Scotland, told The Epoch Times in an email. Reports about Iran supporting the Taliban aren’t new. Sharif Yaftali, the chief of the general staff for Afghanistan’s national defense and security forces in 2017, openly accused Iran of providing military assets …

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