Taliban members among Afghan migrants entering Turkey - Iranian journalists

There are some 300,000 Afghan migrants waiting in Iran to cross the Turkish border, with Taliban members hiding among them, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.

Citing Iranian journalists, Cumhuriyet said Iranian authorities were working with traffickers and smugglers and leaving the country’s borders unguarded.

“Iran is using migrants against Turkey and limits its manoeuvrings in Afghanistan,” one journalist told Cumhuriyet.

Before the Taliban took over Kabul and Afghanistan as a whole, Afghans would cross into Iran legally with their passports, and Iran would keep a record of these entries and share them with Western countries, Taha Kermani, an Iranian journalist living in Turkey, told Cumhuriyet.

“But it is not preferred to have those who cross into Turkey recorded,” Kermani said.

The smugglers are tradespeople who import to Iran Turkish textile goods that cannot be imported normally due to the embargo on Iran, according to Kermani, and help migrants get to border areas near Turkey on their way back to avoid driving empty trucks.

“When a video is shared on social media showing 100 migrants crossing into Turkey at once, it shakes up Ankara politics. Iran knows this very well,” Kermani added. “Iran works with the Taliban to fortify its hand, keeping migrants at the ready to push Turkey.”

Afghans were “happier living in Iran” before the country fell deeper into an economic crisis and the U.S. embargo tightened again, another Iranian journalist in Turkey, Mehdi Shabani, said. Tehran seeks to both lower its Afghan population and use the migrants as leverage over Turkey, he added.



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