Briefing MPs on Afghanistan, Qa’ani warns of US plot to pit Iran against Sunnis

The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force has warned of an American plot to pit Shia-majority Iran against Sunni Muslims, stressing the need for a peaceful solution to the crisis in neighboring Afghanistan with the participation of different groups in running the country, according to lawmakers.

Brigadier Gen. Esmail Qa’ani attended a closed-door briefing session at the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) on Tuesday over the situation in Afghanistan, which has been suffering from a power vacuum since the collapse of the Kabul government and the Taliban militant group’s takeover of the country.

Briefing reporters after the session, the spokesperson for the Presiding Board of Iran’s Parliament, Seyyed Nizamuddin Mousavi, said the Quds Force chief provided precise and documented information with sharp analysis on the developments unfolding in Afghanistan.

The senior lawmaker, sharing details about the meeting, said Iran’s stance is clear, based on what Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has repeatedly emphasized, that it cannot remain indifferent to what is happening in its eastern neighbor.

Qa’ani’s remarks, he stressed, made it clear that the Islamic Republic is “not surprised” by the dramatic developments in Afghanistan and “is in contact” with the Taliban.

Quoting from the speech of the IRGC Quds Force commander, Mousavi said Iran’s main interest in Afghanistan is to “ensure security and rights” of Afghans themselves, while not allowing security at its borders with the country to be disrupted.

Brig. Gen. Qa’ani, who took over from Gen. Qassem Soleimani as the head of IRGC’s Quds Force after the latter’s assassination in January 2020, is a seasoned observer of Afghanistan.

Ahmad Alireza Beigi, a lawmaker from northern Tabriz province, told reporters that Brig. Gen. Qa’ani emphasized the people of Afghanistan, including Afghan Shia Muslims, are important to Iran, and that Tehran wanted an inclusive government in Kabul with the participation of different political and ethnic groups.

Taliban, which toppled the US-backed government in Kabul last month following stunning military advances across the country, is yet to announce the new governing structure.

“What we understood from Brigadier General Qa’ani’s comments was that the Islamic Republic was fully aware of the developments in this country, and Iran, besides standing ready to face [any incident], seeks the fulfillment of the interests of the Iranian and Afghan nations,” he said.

According to the lawmaker, Qa’ani said America’s presence in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, following which the US invaded the South Asian country under the pretext of fighting terrorism, and that Washington developed a resolve for doing so in the wake of the assassination of iconic anti-Taliban and anti-Soviet figure Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2001.

Qa’ani said the US military defeat in Afghanistan was estimated to be much bigger and more significant than the one in the Vietnam war, the lawmaker added.

Alireza Beigi cited the Quds Force commander as saying that the US is now plotting to pit Iran against the Sunni Muslims in the world and thus the Islamic Republic should prevent the Americans from achieving that goal and safeguard its own security.

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