KABUL -- Afghan security forces in Farah Province have intercepted a large shipment of explosives coming from Iran that was destined for the Taliban, officials said.
Sixty-seven bags containing 20kg of explosives each were intentionally hidden in a truck carrying potatoes and were set to be delivered to Taliban militants, an Afghan security official said on condition of anonymity.
The truck entered Farah Province from Iran and was seized November 11 at the Mil 78 customs border crossing. The driver was arrested.
The militants use such explosives for making roadside bombs as well as carrying out large-scale attacks, the official said.
Had the explosives reached the Taliban, they could have caused deadly attacks, said Dadullah Qani, chairman of the Farah Provincial Council.
"The funding and equipping of the Taliban by the Iranian regime are nothing new," he said. "To achieve its objectives, Iran has always provided military and financial support to the Taliban. The Taliban receive all their resources in Farah from the Iranian government."
The Taliban do not have the ability to operate and fight against the Afghan security forces without the military and financial support of Iran, Qani added.
Security officials in Farah Province reported that after they seized the explosives, the Taliban attacked the Mil 78 customs border crossing on Friday (November 13).
Four members of the security forces were killed in the Taliban attack, provincial police spokesperson Mohibullah Mohib told reporters. Three Taliban militants were killed in the counterattack and four others injured.
Qani linked the attack to the seizure of the explosives brought from Iran, calling it an act of revenge.
Sabotaging the peace process
Iranian financial and military support to the Taliban aims to increase attacks and weaken the peace process, according to a number of civil society activists.
"While international efforts are under way to launch the peace process, a number of neighbouring countries such as Iran... are trying to sabotage this process," said Abdul Rahim Wafa, a civil society activist in Farah Province. "They are afraid of a strong and inclusive government in Afghanistan."
"The supply of weapons and explosives by Iran and Russia to the Taliban has been going on for several years now," he said. "These countries have increased their support so that the Taliban, instead of going to the negotiation table, increase the killing of civilians and security personnel and escalate violence."
The regimes of Iran and Russia want the violence in Afghanistan to continue as they perceive their interests in war, Wafa said. If peace and stability prevail, they will not be able to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
The Iranian regime has been opposed to the Afghan peace process from the beginning, using all available means to sabotage it to show that US negotiators have failed, said Mohammad Hanif Yaktaparast, a civil society activist in Badghis Province.
"While [direct peace negotiations] between the Taliban and the Afghan government are about to start, the arrival of a car full of explosives from Iran means that the country continues to provide support to the Taliban," he said.
However, Yaktaparast warned, continued war in Afghanistan and strengthening terrorist groups will take the flames of war to neighbouring countries too, including Iran.
Duplicitous policy towards peace
Intra-Afghan peace talks, which began September 12, have stalled because of the duplicitous policies of some stakeholders, including Iran, Russia, and China, political analysts say.
A number of neighbouring countries, including Iran, see their interests in war and use all of their resources to sabotage the peace process, said Abdul Qader Kamel, a political analyst in Herat Province.
Iranian officials always have told the Afghan government that they support the peace process and want peace and stability in Afghanistan, but in reality, the government of Iran does not want peace in Afghanistan and hence supports the Taliban instead, he said.
"The duplicitous policies of neighbouring countries towards the peace process in Afghanistan show the bad intentions of these countries," he said. "If neighbouring countries such as Iran, China and Russia, whose positions are aligned, are really honest and do not support the Taliban, the peace process will definitely yield results."
"One reason behind increased Taliban attacks is the continued assistance of these countries ... to the Taliban," he said. "Advanced weapons that the Taliban are using in the war are Russian and Iranian."
The international community must pressure the Taliban to cut off their unhealthy ties with other terrorist groups and countries supporting terrorism, Kamel said.
Those who support terrorism are directly involved in the killing of innocent Afghans and Afghan security personnel, said Ahmad Shah Faizyan, an international relations analyst in Herat city.
"Some countries such as Iran, China and Pakistan ostensibly call themselves friends of Afghanistan, but in reality, they are the actual enemies of the country," he said. "These countries provide all military and financial resources to the Taliban so that this group can commit any crime it wants."