Iran is “extremely concerned” about the fate of its diplomats at the consulate in Herat, the major city in western Afghanistan that has fallen to the Taliban’s Sunni extremists.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry in Tehran tweeted that the consulate and staff are still safe, but he is highly concerned about the health and safety of the people there.
He calls on the Taliban to respect the international rules that apply in diplomacy. The Taliban view Shia Iran as well as the Shia minority in Afghanistan as enemies. During the fighting in 1998, the Taliban captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif and stormed the Iranian consulate. They killed ten Iranian diplomats and a journalist from the Iranian news agency IRNA.
According to observers, Iran has anticipated the Taliban takeover in the neighbouring country, but the government is said to disagree on what policy should follow. Some think that, unlike in the past, it is now possible to talk to the Taliban.
Another part fears that the situation in the neighbouring country under the new generation of Taliban will be much worse. They point to the failed peace talks with the Taliban and the bloody offensive by the Sunni extremists.
Iran also fears a refugee influx. Around 1980, millions of Afghans crossed the Iranian border. The large Hazara population in Afghanistan is Shia.