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February 14, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9770

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: '[Afghan] Taliban Are A Serious Threat To The World, China, Russia, And Pakistan Will Regret Supporting Taliban'

February 14, 2022
Special Dispatch No. 9770

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president of Iran, recently gave an interview to the Afghan media group, Aamaj News, in which he discussed a range of issues concerning the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban jihadi organization which seized power on August 15, 2021. The former president, who is known for his fierce opposition to America and Israel, also warned that the Taliban jihadi group's seizure of power will have large implications for the entire region involving Afghanistan and its surrounding countries.


Picture courtesy: Aamaj News

The interview was published under the title "The Taliban Are A Serious Threat To The World, China, Russia, And Pakistan Will Regret Supporting Taliban: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad In An Exclusive Interview With Aamaj News." In the interview, the former Iranian president is critical of not only America but Iran too for having supported the Afghan Taliban. He warns that Russia, China, and Pakistan will regret their support for the Islamic Emirate.

Also, the interview is mainly within the context of Afghanistan. However, when the Aamaj News interviewer, Matiullah Shirzad, asks for his views on the Taliban, the Islamic State (ISIS), and the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front (NRF) led by Ahmad Massoud, Ahmadinejad seems to switch back to Palestine – an issue on which he was known for his fierce ideological threats to Israel.

Ultimately, the interviewer is forced to return to his specific question about the NRF's opposition to the Taliban. Even then, Ahmadinejad brings the Palestinian issue, stating: "You are talking of Resistance Front in Afghanistan. It is not related to the Palestine issue. It is natural that the people of Afghanistan do not like to live in this condition, and they are in search of solution and salvation."

Following are excerpts from the interview:[1]

"[The Taliban Organization] Is A Group Working For The Implementation Of International Powers' Policies For The Domination Of The Important Geography Of Central Asia"

Aamaj News: "Five months have passed since the Taliban came into power in Afghanistan [on August 15, 2021]. But these five months neither found foundation for internal nor for international recognition. What will be the guarantee for the continuation of the Taliban [government]? What are the difficult challenges before the Taliban? How does Iran see the Taliban? And in the end, whether Afghanistan will again turn into the battle of games for regional and world powers? The former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a well-known and famous figure, answers these questions. We thank you Mr. Ahmadinejad for your interview with Aamaj. Let's start with the Taliban. How do you define the Taliban?"

Ahmadinejad: "Let me first send my greetings to the noble people of Afghanistan, workers of your organization, and all those who are watching this program. The Taliban's definition or how they define themselves is that they consider themselves as a religious group and have the responsibility of the heavy mission to bring the whole world under their control. But on the other hand, the people of Afghanistan think of it [the Taliban organization as] an invading group that repeatedly tried to win the will and vote of the people and in the end compelled to impose themselves on the people of Afghanistan with the help, weapons, and power of others [foreign countries].

"If we see it from outside Afghanistan, yes, it is a group working for the implementation of international powers' policies for the domination of the important geography of Central Asia. This group has been formed [by] them, has been supported [by] them so that these powers could be able to implement their policies."

Aamaj News: "What do you think – the Taliban are a religious movement or an ethnic movement?"

Ahmadinejad: "In my view, they are neither religious nor ethnic. Faith does not go by weapon. Faith is love, humanity, and respecting others is faith. If we talk of ethnicity, the Pashtun ethnicity was here but did not give them the vote. They were unable to win the Pashtun nation's will. There are some big personalities in the Pashtun nation who do not like the Taliban and the Taliban's ideology and stand against them. They are neither a religious, nor an ethnic [group]..."

"How Is It Possible Americans, Who Start Wars For The Dollar, Surrendered $80 Billion [Worth Of] Weapons Very Easily To Taliban..."

Aamaj News: "A day before the fall of Kabul [on August 15, 2021], you called the Taliban a serious threat to Iran and the region. Do you think the same now?"

Ahmadinejad: "Exactly, the same. An armed group that is managed and supported by other enemies from outside the region comes and becomes the ruler against the aspirations of a nation is a threat to the whole world."

Aamaj News: "Before the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, you had said that the Taliban want to rule Afghanistan with the support of 'outsiders' and with the force of weapons. What do you mean by 'outsiders?'"

Ahmadinejad: "A lot. The United States especially supports them. Some countries in the region support them. To a large extent, the Taliban was trained and organized in Pakistan. The U.S. provided them weapons, aircraft; some Gulf countries provided them money; some regional countries, Russia on one hand and China on the other, supported them. Iran also did not adopt a good stance. In my view, Iran made a historic mistake in the Taliban issue [by engaging with them]."

Question: "You talked of big powers. But how do you see the Taliban's relations with neighboring countries like Pakistan, China, and Turkmenistan?"

Ahmadinejad: "Look, they shall not show mercy to anyone because they are not free; rather [they are] implementing the policies of world powers who want to dominate the whole region. How is it possible that the Americans, who start wars for the dollar, surrendered $80 billion weapons very easily to the Taliban, and also paid training expenses? It is clear that they are following some high interests. I think that Russia and China will regret their support to the Taliban."

Aamaj News: "The Taliban's opponents say they are the puppets of Pakistan. Do you think so?"

Ahmadinejad: "I think Pakistan will suffer huge damage from its participation in this project [of foreign powers in bringing the Taliban to power]."

Aamaj News: "And do you think Pakistan is involved...?"

Ahmadinejad: "The Taliban were there [in Pakistan], lived there, and trained there, and organized there. I think that Pakistan will regret it."

"[Claims That Iran Was Providing Weapons To Afghan Taliban] Should Be Investigated; There Might Have Been Some Groups Who Have Done It"

Ahmadinejad: "Unfortunately, there are people in different countries who seize power and act against the will of the nation. There are also similarly people in Iran who have influence and have done things that the nation is not happy with."

Aamaj News: "If Iran has the same thinking about the Taliban, what they had five months ago?"

Ahmadinejad: "What do you mean by Iran?"

Aamaj News: "I mean Iranian government."

Ahmadinejad: "Then ask your questions to them."

Aamaj News: "What is your personal point of view?"

Ahmadinejad: "My view has not changed. The way the Taliban talk, my belief is further strengthening what they are doing now."

Aamaj News: "An Iran's view?"

Ahmadinejad: "I hope they will improve."

Aamaj News: "You were the president of Iran for eight years from 2005 to 2013. What was Iran's policy on Afghanistan, especially the Taliban, at that time?"

Ahmadinejad: "What the government was doing at that time was assistance, cooperation in development, peace, and security. My belief was that what Afghanistan wanted should be done with them. This can be done through free elections. People come, give their view, and vote. We tried whatever was possible at that time to cooperate in the development of Afghanistan."

Aamaj News: "Claims were made in different times that Iran is providing weapons to the Taliban. Was that true?"

Ahmadinejad: "This should be investigated. There might have been some groups who have done it. Iran is a big country."

"Until Palestine Is Liberated, All Kind Of Movement Is For The Palestine"; "It Is Natural That When Occupation Takes Place Anywhere In The World, The People Of The Occupied Land Make Efforts For The Freedom Of Their Land"

Aamaj News: "In general, is Iran's policy on the Taliban, Daesh [ISIS], and [the anti-Taliban] Resistance Front clear today? What does the Islamic Republic of Iran want?"

Ahmadinejad: "Look, you said Daesh, Taliban and..."

Aamaj News: "Let me explain it a little. For example, the Resistance Front has active offices in Iran, the Taliban's visits to Iran, Daesh [ISIS] threat in Afghanistan... These three issues may be a threat to Iran because it is a neighboring country from security point of view."

Ahmadinejad: "The [nature of] resistance is a little bit changed. Resistance refers back to Palestine. The land of Palestine has been occupied. They have been given permission in the light of all the international laws to defend themselves and liberate their land. Some countries of the region also supported them or are supporting them. From there, the concept of Resistance Front came. But the Taliban and Daesh are different from them [the Resistance Front]. These groups do not work for the freedom of Palestine; rather working for the destabilization of the countries of the region. So, they cannot be put together. They are different from each other."

Aamaj News: "I mean that what policy Iran has about these three groups?"

Ahmadinejad: "In my view, they are not parties or movements. How can the Taliban and Daesh [ISIS] be one group? Groups or movements emerge from the people. As the movement is being handled by international powers in every sense, some ignorant people may be a part of it. So, it is not a movement or a party, it is a political movement or a political group."

Aamaj News: "And the Resistance Front?"

Ahmadinejad: "I said resistance refers back to the people of Palestine. Until Palestine is liberated, all kind of movement is for the Palestine, it is there in Palestine and in other countries. It is natural that when occupation takes place anywhere in the world, the people of the occupied land make efforts for the freedom of their land. This act will affect a circle."

Aamaj News: "We talked of Daesh. How much the Daesh threat is serious in Afghanistan?"

Ahmadinejad: "I think Daesh is the part of the same plan [by foreign powers to use the group to dominate Central Asia]. I mean, after the Taliban domination, the ground will be given to Daesh. They [Taliban] have been given this time. The Daesh and Al-Qaeda are rapidly preparing themselves in Afghanistan and when they are ready, they will be serious threat to all the neighboring countries of Afghanistan."

Aamaj News: "Let's come to the Ahmad Masoud-led [National] Resistance Front. Do you see that this movement is serious?"

Ahmadinejad: "You are talking of the Resistance Front in Afghanistan. It is not related to the Palestine issue. It is natural that the people of Afghanistan do not like to live in this condition, and they are in search of a solution and salvation. In Panjshir, I think, Panjshir will stay in its place. No major incident has occurred so far. However, it is possible these movements may expand in the future and influence the future incidents."

Aamaj News: "What are the weak and strong points of the Resistance Front and the Taliban's other opponents?"

Ahmadinejad: "You see, there has been chaos in Afghanistan for the last nearly 50 years. The bases of the people have weakened. The people are badly weakened. Most of the people migrated and were forced to migrate to neighboring countries, even to Turkey and rest of the world. This weakens the nation. A weak nation cannot move and take decisions. I think, this is the biggest problem that exists. But despite that there is the need for unity among all."

"The U.S. Also Wants [Control Of] All Of Central Asia; So, Afghanistan Is A Key Place"

Aamaj News: "How do you see world and other influential powers' policy toward Afghanistan? Like the U.S., China, Russia, and India?"

Ahmadinejad: "As I said earlier, India does not directly interfere now. But despite that India will suffer damage from the Taliban rule. As far as the countries you named, I think they are not seeking the interests of the people of Afghanistan, rather [they are] in search of international agendas and their own interests. I insist that they will suffer damage in the future."

Aamaj News: "If the countries are divided into groups over their interests in Afghanistan?"

Ahmadinejad: "No, there is an understanding that the Taliban will come into power, but this compromise will soon turn into competition."

Aamaj News: "What is the basic problem of Afghanistan? Why is there always war there?"

Ahmadinejad: "I think, foreign interference and rule. Afghanistan has not seen a good day since the Britons came to Afghanistan. Their policy was to keep nations in poverty so that they could stay in power. When the [Soviet] communists entered [Afghanistan] they sought their own interests and suppressed all the talents of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an important country. There live the world's wise people. The people of Afghanistan are wise, hard workers, and cultured. This is their nature, and this is their history. If we see their culture, its people are loving, friendly, pure and sincere. They are also very wealthy, i.e., have mines, copper mines, and other mines. This is the reason that world powers have expectations from Afghanistan and want to stay there for a long period and pursue their long-term policies.

"The communists wanted to reach warm waters, tried for a long time to reach them via Iran but suffered defeat and they moved toward Afghanistan. They captured Afghanistan, but we saw what they did in Afghanistan. They [got] trapped there. The people of Afghanistan do not easily accept foreign rule. The U.S. also wants [control of] all of central Asia. So, Afghanistan is a key place. We saw when they occupied Afghanistan 22 years ago [in 2001], it affected the whole region. Differences and fire erupted in the whole region. Its cause was their presence. I pray that evils will soon be eliminated, and the people of Afghanistan will live their own lives..."

 

[1] Aamaj News, January 16, 2022. The English version of the interview was prepared by Aamaj News and has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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