With the Trump administration pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and looking to impose new sanctions which will hurt Tehran’s ability to finance terrorism around the world, Iran is looking to increase their influence everywhere in the Middle East and they’re playing both sides by training some of the Taliban’s best fighters inside Iran.
The Times from the U.K. was the first to report that Iran is training the Taliban’s fighters, something the Iranians strongly rejected calling the allegations, “fake and undocumented” in an official press release from their Kabul embassy. The Iranians stated that instead of making “baseless” accusations against Afghanistan’s neighbors, they should seek to “find the root causes of the failure of the so-called anti-terrorism fight by certain governments in the country.”
Tehran, like China and Russia, is looking to push back against Washington’s influence everywhere they can, they’ve established bases in Syria and now have a strong presence in Iraq. And while the Ayatollah has had good relations with the government in Kabul, they’re hedging their bets by training the Taliban in Iran, something that will be a lot harder to prove than conducting the training across the border into Afghanistan.
But yet, the Taliban are making their fighters available to the press to talk about the training they are receiving from Iran and the Iranian SOF. The Ayatollahs have always had a friendly relationship with the Kabul government and an enemy of the Taliban. But the Quds Forces, the SOF of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is courting the Taliban in ever larger numbers. This duality will definitely bear watching in the future.
The Times quoted a Taliban source at their headquarters in Pakistan where he clearly stated, “The Iranian offer of training came with two demands: that we should put more focus on attacking American and Nato interests in Afghanistan, and devote more forces to attacking Daesh (ISIS).”
The Iranians immediately began planning this move months ago when President Trump began to make noise about pulling out of the Iran Nuclear deal. And the Iranians then decided to take “the best and the brightest” Taliban fighters and bring them to Iran and receive a six-month training course run by Iranian special forces troops.
The training is being conducted in Kermanshah in the western part of the country. The base is a permanent military facility complete with barracks, classrooms, mess halls, weapons and demolition ranges, a gym and a mosque. One young Taliban commander who goes by the name of Nawheed stated that there were 500-600 Taliban in various stages of training. Iranian SF are training them on tactics, leadership, recruitment, bomb-making and advanced weapons training.
He was selected to speak with the media as the Taliban is rattling its saber to show how they plan to escalate the fighting if the peace talks with Kabul government fail. The message is clear. With the U.S. looking to increase sanctions, Iran is planning on hitting the U.S. interests in Afghanistan hard.
After completing a basic course of instruction, Taliban fighters are chosen for advanced courses in explosives, field communications, IT, mortars, sniping, recruiting, ambush and infiltration according to the Taliban.
But yet the Tehran government continues with the rhetoric that they are interested in only furthering the peace process. “As the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly said, it has never extended its rifts with other countries to Afghanistan’s domestic affairs and seeks an increase in global efforts to reinforce the Afghan government and decrease its people’s suffering,” they added in their statement before denying the Taliban connection.
The Taliban has only boosted its campaign of violence across the country, targeting both civilians and security forces in bloody assaults, they said. “Terrorism and extremism are joint threats to all the countries if the region; collective attempts to fight such a phenomenon is an undeniable necessity,” the statement said.
The Kabul government has the scant support of the people. A good example is the recent pitched fighting that took place in Farah, a provincial capital in western Afghanistan. The Taliban attacked the city and the government troops with massive amounts of troop insertions and airstrikes.
After a 36-hour battle where the Taliban were driven out, and the government made a big to-do over the confiscated weapons they captured during the fighting, many citizens said, corrupt government officials were turning around and selling the weapons right back to the very insurgents they were captured from.
Local security forces are weak and stretched far too thin. The Taliban enjoys a great deal of support among the population in the region. The local commander in Farah said he was “100 percent certain” that Iran was supporting the Taliban there. The Iranians were using the Taliban as proxies to keep Daesh (ISIS) at bay, especially along the border the two countries share.
A Washington Post article quotes an Afghan civilian who firmly believes the Iranians are behind the attack. “If the situation stays the same, the Taliban will be back,” said a day laborer named Rashid, 28. “It’s a complicated fight. Around here, one brother is with the Taliban, and another one is with the government. But the weapons are definitely coming from Iran.”
The government has also been building dams, which is another sore point between the two countries as they’ve been negotiating over water rights as they heavily depend on water from Afghanistan’s rivers.
The drought problems, as well as other issues, are an increasing headache for the Tehran government. There have been widespread protests against the government by the people in recent months as the Iranian economy, boosted by the influx of money from the Obama deal has bottomed out. The Iranian rial is now officially trading at 42,000 for the U.S. dollar but black-market sites are trading at 90,000.
The protests which have now spread to Tehran were addressed by President Hassan Rouhani as he told the people first that the economic problems were the fault of the United States and then saying that the protests were caused by “foreign media propaganda.”
The government crushed the demonstrations in the spring as the people growing increasingly fed up with graft, corruption and government lies, took to the streets in about 100 cities. The boatloads of money that were released by the Obama administration in the nuclear deal were supposed to bring better economic times for the people.
Instead, the ayatollahs have spent the money, the way they always have..by financing their Quds Forces, exporting terrorism thru their proxies, Shiite militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon. And now despite being friendly with Kabul regime, they are arming the Taliban.