Afghans demand halt to Iranian 'interference'

By Sulaiman

An Afghan security force member guards a check-point in Herat October 4. [AREF KARIMI/AFP]

An Afghan security force member guards a check-point in Herat October 4. [AREF KARIMI/AFP]

KABUL -- Recent findings confirming Iran's support for the Taliban are alarming Afghan lawmakers and civil society members and have prompted the Afghan government to vow action against all enemies of the state.

Iran has links to the Taliban movement, Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Reza Bahrami recently admitted.

The admission came after repeated denials from the Iranian regime and from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that they are providing financial and military support to the militant group.

Iran and the Taliban's ties cannot be doubted, as for years evidence has suggested those links, Afghan members of parliament and local government leaders say.

In recent years, Afghan security personnel have repeatedly announced the discovery of Iranian munitions on the Afghan side of the border with Iran.

Further evidence, analysts say, is the death of then-Taliban supreme commander Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor, who was killed in May in Pakistan, reportedly after returning from a visit to Iran. Pakistani authorities found an Iranian visa in his passport.

Protecting Afghanistan's territory

The Afghan Ministry of Defence says it will utilise everything in its power to destroy the enemies of Afghanistan and their supporters.

"We will spare no efforts against any country that takes arms against us, whether it's Iran [...] or any other country," Gen. Mohammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, told Salaam Times.

"Defending and protecting the Afghan territorial integrity and security of the Afghan people are an obligation and a responsibility resting upon Afghanistan's National Defence and Security Forces [ANDSF]," he said.

"The ANDSF are prepared in all circumstances to protect every square inch of Afghanistan's territory against the actions of Taliban and their supporters," he said.

Iran's relations with the Taliban are a violation of Afghanistan's national sovereignty, Afghan MP Zakaria Khan Zakaria, who serves on the parliament's international relations committee, said.

"According to all international laws and universally accepted principles, Iran's support of the Taliban terror group is rejected and condemned," he told Salaam Times.

A clear policy towards Iran

Zakaria urged the Afghan government and security forces to take practical steps to stop Iran's interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

"If the government doesn't determine its policy towards Iran and doesn't respond with a swift and conclusive answer to the Iranian interference, then Afghanistan will become more insecure and unstable," he said.

"Afghanistan is part of the international system," he added. "Iran's support for terrorism and provision of the Taliban terrorist group with military equipment and capabilities are interpreted as creating disturbance in the international order. Therefore, the international community must feel responsible and must prevent Iran from conducting terrorist activities in Afghanistan."

A clear policy towards Iran is needed, Muhammad Nader Balouch, a senator from Nimroz Province, agreed.

"There was once a time when Iran considered the Taliban a terrorist group," he told Salaam Times. "Now, however, it has been observed that Iran is clearly colluding with terrorists and supports terrorism."

"The Iranian regime financially and logistically supports the Taliban in Chahar Borjak and Khashroud districts, both of which share borders with Iran," he said.

"We have seen time and again that the Taliban have used Iranian-made weapons and anti-vehicle mines in Nimroz, Farah and Herat provinces. All of this reflects Iran's evil and destructive objectives in Afghanistan," Balouch said.

"We earnestly urge the government to cut off the Iranian hands clutching Afghanistan, before Iran turns Afghanistan's western provinces into the Taliban's centres for terrorism," he said.

'History will judge Iran'

Iran's meddling in Afghanistan is just as destructive as the crimes of terrorist groups like the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Hasan Azizi, a civil society activist in Kabul, said.

"On behalf of Afghan civil society, I urge the Afghan government and its strategic allies, including the United States, NATO and the UN Security Council, to prevent the destructive and terrorist activities of Iran in Afghanistan as quickly as possible," he told Salaam Times, pledging to organise protests in Afghanistan against Iran.

"The Taliban are against all modern standards of the world," he said. "They do not accept human rights, democracy, women's rights and international humanitarian law. Iran's support for such a group is in utter disregard for all these values."

"History will judge Iran," he said.

Government must take 'necessary measures'

"If it weren't for the support provided by Afghanistan's neighbours, especially Iran, to the Taliban, the group wouldn't be able to continue fighting the Afghan security forces for even one more week," said Mohebbullah Samim, former governor of Paktika Province.

"This means that our neighbours are the causes behind the continuation of war and violence in our country," he told Salaam Times.

"Since the Iranian authorities have officially confirmed having ties with the Taliban, it is incumbent upon the Afghan government to take the necessary measures against Iran," Samim said.

The Afghan government will follow up through diplomatic channels and, if necessary, will present the subject for national discourse and decision making, a source from the Foreign Ministry told Salaam Times.

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Both Iran and Pakistan support terrorism and are allies in promoting extremism and terrorism. It is clear to everyone that Islamabad, Zahedan, Zabol, Peshawar, and Quetta are safe havens for training, equipping, and supplying the Taliban.