June 21, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Iran and Taliban discuss “joint action” against Israel

June 21, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Iran and Taliban discuss “joint action” against Israel

The foreign ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Taliban discussed taking “joint action” against Israel in support of Hamas. The Taliban and Iran have cooperated in the past to oust the US from Afghanistan and overthrow the Afghan government.

Iranian Interim Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani and Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called on the member states of the Islamic Cooperation Organization to exert pressure on Israel during a phone conversation between the two diplomats, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated outlet Mehr News reported on June 17. 

The Taliban had informed Tehran that it is prepared to deploy thousands of troops to fight against Israel, a senior reporter working with the Lebanese Hezbollah-run Al Akhbar Daily claimed in an interview on June 13. Iran has sought to facilitate a relationship between the Taliban and the Iranian regime’s proxies, including Hezbollah. 

A week prior, Tehran hosted various meetings between members of the Taliban and Hamas, in addition to other high-level gatherings during the funeral of former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in late May. Taliban Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesperson Hafiz Zia Ahmad reported on the meetings between Hamas Chief Political Leader Ismail Haniyah and Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Foreign Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani held in Tehran on May 23.

Iran and the Taliban align on Israel

The Tehran regime and the Taliban administration have reaffirmed their growing ties and anti-Israel sentiment throughout the Gaza conflict. In February 2024, Iranian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Affairs Hassan Kazemi Qomi stated that “if need be, a martyrdom division from Afghanistan is prepared to fight in Gaza,” adding that “the way we see it, Afghanistan is also part of the Axis of Resistance.”

Following the Islamic Republic’s April 13 drone and missile attack on Israel, the Taliban was quick to issue a statement supporting the action by employing a similar rhetoric regarding Israel. The next day, Taliban Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi posted on X that Iran’s attack on the “criminal Zionist regime” was a “legitimate defense.”

Iran supported the Taliban’s insurgency

Although the Taliban and Iran have clashed in the recent past over controversial issues such as water rights and refugees, the two also cooperated for nearly two decades as the Taliban fought to expel the US and its allies from Afghanistan. The Taliban ultimately succeeded when the US left the country in August 2021.

Iran provided significant support for the Taliban, including safe havens, training, finances, intelligence, and weapons. The extent of this assistance was proven in US federal court in October 2022, in Cabrera v. Iran. (Note: Bill Roggio was a witness in this case. His expert report can be read here, and the court’s opinion can be read here.)

Iran supported the Taliban because it did not want the US to maintain a presence on its eastern border, nor did it want an American-friendly government in power in Afghanistan. Not only did Iran provide a safe haven for Taliban leaders and fighters in Iran, but it also operated training facilities for Taliban recruits. Additionally, Iran provided safe havens and support to Taliban allies such as Al Qaeda. Top Al Qaeda leaders, including the group’s purported emir, Sayf al Adl, are known to operate in Iran.

Additionally, Iranian members of Qods Force, the external operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), entered Iran to provide training, advice, and intelligence to Taliban commanders in western and southern Afghanistan. IRGC support for Taliban networks extended all the way into the capital of Kabul.

While discussions of Taliban support for Iran’s proxy terror network may be downplayed as aspirational or propaganda, they should not be dismissed out of hand, given the deep ties developed between the Taliban and Iran over the past two decades.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Janatan Sayeh is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies focused on Iranian domestic affairs and the Islamic Republic’s regional malign influence.


Afghanistan Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Israel at War Jihadism Military and Political Power