Some Iranians point to Tehran’s “hypocrisy” over Afghan resistance
Almost two weeks after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and a week after the start of resistance against the Taliban in the tiny Panjshir region in northeastern Afghanistan, criticism of the government by the Iranians and the Afghans have multiplied. Tehran appears to be deliberately ignoring the resistance and subtly supporting the Taliban.
The Taliban have launched repeated attacks this week to capture the Panjshir, but so far they have apparently been pushed back with heavy casualties and many have been captured by the resistance. The government’s stance on Afghan developments, as well as its silence on resistance to Panjshir, can be seen in the Iranian media landscape in newspapers, news agencies, websites, and state radio and television.
The only exception is the daily Jomhouri Eslami, a publication originally founded by none other than Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who was a leading member of the Islamic Republic Party in 1979 when the newspaper was launched. However, Khamenei has nothing to do with the direction of the editorials in the newspaper and he removed his name from the header many years ago.
Jomhouri Eslami has consistently called the Taliban a “terrorist group” and has warned the Iranian government in recent months that the Taliban has not changed and that supporting them would likely not serve Tehran’s interests.
The daily’s editor wrote in an August 21 article: “The Taliban promise civil liberties, including women’s rights to deceive the people and buy time before they can establish their fundamentalist government,” adding that “the Taliban leaders told their men to wait until the group captures the Panjshir, currently held by Ahmad Massoud, the son of the legendary Afghan Mojahedin commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and then begins trying to execute personalities of the opposition.
While most other Iranian media ignore resistance to Panjshir, Iranian state television in its media coverage qualifies the Taliban attacks in Panjshir as war on opponents, without naming Panjshir or Ahmad Massoud. The behavior of state television was widely criticized on Twitter where the Iranians denounced the government’s hypocrisy regarding resistance to Panjshir.
The Iranian government has portrayed Ahmad Shah Massoud as an Afghan national hero for many years, hoisted his gigantic posters along the highways of Tehran, and Iranian television has often called him “Shir-e Panjshir” (The lion of Panjshir) and praised his resistance against the Taliban before the group assassinated him in a terrorist attack in September 2001.
Iranian journalist Sheler Haghanifar tweeted from London on September 3: “The Panjshir stands against the self-proclaimed Islamic emirate. Resistance is always the victorious party on the battlefield.
Others pointed out that Tehran views Palestinian Hamas as freedom fighters while ignoring the Panjshir’s fight for freedom.
Iranian journalist Hossein Dehbashi tweeted from Tehran on September 2: “Ahmad Massoud says he wants Panjshir for the whole of Afghanistan, not for himself. He is resisting and I would like someone to tell him that he has instilled hope in the oppressed hearts of Iranians.
What makes Panjshir particularly dear to the hearts of many Iranians is its Persian-speaking population, unlike the Taliban who are primarily Pashtuns.
Former Culture Minister Abbas Salehi tweeted in September 2: “Ahmad Massoud in Panjshir says that Afghanistan needs a new comprehensive government, not just a Taliban administration. And the Taliban surrounded Panjshir only to silence him. Iran, the region and the security of the world in the future depend on the formation of a comprehensive government in Afghanistan. Let us support the words which come from the Panjshir. “
Another reporter in Tehran, Mira Ghorbanifar, wrote in a tweet that calls on the world to come to the aid of Panjshir: “Shame on the world that does not see that the Pakistani army has come to help the Taliban in the war against Panjshir. Shame on those who refuse to hear and see the resistance of Panjshir. “