Terrorism

Iran playing destructive role in Afghanistan, officials say

Sulaiman

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A screen shot from a militant video published earlier this year shows the aftermath of a bomb attack in Afghanistan. Afghan officials are blaming Iran for supporting various extremist groups, in particular the Taliban.

KABUL -- Senior Afghan officials are raising the alarm over Iran's destructive role in Afghanistan and its support of the Afghan Taliban.

Governor of Farah Province Asif Nang recently revealed the covert and hostile support Iran has been providing to the Taliban.

"The Taliban recently launched a massive attack in Farah Province," he told Salaam Times Wednesday (December 14th). "After facing fierce resistance by the Afghan security forces, however, a number of Taliban fled back to Iran."

More than 5,000 Taliban are present in Farah Province, along Afghanistan's border with Iran, Nang told Afghan media.

"The Taliban commanders in Farah receive military equipment from Iran," Nang said. "They use Iranian-made ammunition and weapons in their fighting against Afghan security forces."

Some of the weapons used by the Taliban are not available to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), he said, adding that such weapons are usually used by Iranian and other foreign security forces.

Iranian support for 'enemies of Afghanistan'

Iran has "never co-operated with Afghanistan in its fight against terrorism," Gen. Muhammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence, told Salaam Times.

"Iran's lack of co-operation in the fight against terrorism is an objectionable matter for us," he said.

"The Taliban are the enemies of the Afghan people," Senate Chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar told the UN General Assembly September 12.

"The support provided by Iran to the Taliban is an indication of that country's animosity towards the people and government of Afghanistan," he said. "We condemn any and all such actions committed by Iran."

Rahmatullah Nabil, a former head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security, also confirmed Iran's support for the Taliban.

Iran is using the Taliban as a tactical tool because it is afraid of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) gaining ground in Afghanistan, he told Voice of America in Kabul in an interview published November 11.

Most of the Iranian support is in western Afghanistan in the form of money and small arms, he said.

"Providing assistance to the Taliban and establishing relations with them are manifestations of Iran's interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs," said Moin Marastial, a former member of the Afghan parliament.

"The Iranian military support of the enemies of the Afghan people, who murder innocent people on a daily basis, highlights the crimes for which both Iran and the Taliban are responsible," he told Salaam Times.

He rejected Iran's concerns over the presence of ISIL and Iran's co-operation with the Taliban, calling them unreasonable.

"If Iran is worried about the threat of ISIL, then it should not co-operate with terrorist groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda," Marastial said. "Instead, it should protect its own borders."

"Iran's relationship with the Taliban has nothing to do with peace and stability," he said. "Quite the contrary, Iran wants to hurt Afghanistan's strategic allies who help the country's government and people."

A history of regional meddling

Iran has a long history of supporting terrorist groups in Afghanistan and the region, Sulaimankhel , a Kabul-based senior military analyst, said.

"Iran has been covertly funding and arming the Taliban for nearly a decade," he told Salaam Times.

"The Iranian support for the Taliban will make the situation in Afghanistan even more critical and will result in further instability," he said, adding that Iran's actions are "against all international norms and laws."

"It is high time for the United Nations to prevent further Iranian interference in Afghanistan," he said.

"During the civil war of 1992, in which thousands of Afghans were killed and the city of Kabul was completely ruined, Iran provided financial and weaponry support to the parties involved in war," Samir Baktash, a Kabul civil society activist, told Salaam Times.

"Now, Iran is murdering the Afghan people by funding and arming the terrorist and extremist Taliban," he said. "There are even dozens of reports showing that the Taliban, under the guidance of Iran, have targeted many bridges, roads and even dams."

"Throughout history, Iran has always sought destruction of Afghanistan and the initiation of religious and ethnic wars in this country," Baktash said, calling Iran "Afghanistan's worst neighbour".

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