KABUL -- Another seizure of smuggled Iranian explosives has Afghan authorities expressing indignation at their neighbour's continued role in fuelling conflict and instability.
Afghan security forces in Farah province January 19 intercepted 2 tonnes of explosives coming from Iran.
The explosives were packed in 50 plastic bags, weighing 40kg each, which smugglers brought into the country disguised as flour, officials say.
"Bags filled with explosives were loaded into a truck along with bags of flour and were transported into Afghanistan," said a security official in Farah province on the condition of anonymity.
Police investigations show that the explosives were intended for the Taliban in Bala Buluk district, the official said.
In a similar incident in November, security forces prevented the entry of a truck loaded with explosives hidden in dozens of burlap sacks.
Most of the explosives that the Taliban use in Farah province are comprised of materials imported from Iran, the source said.
"Some of these materials are imported legally through customs under the guise of other [permissible] products, but most are brought in through illegal border crossings," he said.
"These explosive materials are very dangerous and are used in making large mines and car bombs," he added.
Fighting with Iranian money, weapons
Afghan officials accuse the Iranian regime of sending weapons and ammunition to the Taliban through illegal border crossings, in a bid to pursue Tehran's goals in Afghanistan.
In less than a year, Afghan security forces have prevented the entry of four truckloads of explosives from Iran into Farah, said Abdul Sattar Hussaini, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Farah province.
"The government of Iran is the main culprit behind the unrest and violence in the western region," he said. "The Akhunds [clerics] of Iran have taken control of the western region with the help of the terrorist Taliban, and they do whatever they want [there]."
Iran "has provided the Taliban with dangerous explosives, night vision binoculars, and small and heavy arms", he said.
"The Taliban are fighting against the Afghan government and people with Iranian money and weapons."
Dadullah Qani, chairman of the Farah provincial council, accused the Iranian regime of using the Taliban as a pawn in the proxy war that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is waging in the region.
"Iran is a safe haven for the Taliban, and when the commanders of the group come under pressure, they can easily cross the border [to Iran]," he said, noting that the IRGC facilitates Taliban members' crossing into Iran without the need for visas or passports.
If Iran did not arm or finance the Taliban, they would lack the ability to operate or to launch attacks in Farah province, Qani said.
The IRGC even paid dozens of Taliban fighters monthly to try to disrupt construction of Bakhshabad Dam or to assassinate anti-Iran figures, he said.
The Iranian regime is engaging in duplicitous policies, observers say. On the one hand, it styles itself a "friend" of Afghanistan, but on the other, it supports the Taliban.
Iran's "friendship" with Afghanistan is merely symbolic, said Zaranj-based political analyst Hamza Balooch, adding that the Iranian regime "has been trying to destroy Afghanistan for years".
"It has been proven many times that the government of Iran is involved in financing and equipping the Taliban in provinces of the western region," he said.
Taliban insurgents, with direct help from Iranian forces, have attacked Kamal Khan Dam in Nimroz province, Bakhshabad Dam in Farah province and other public projects that risk Iran's interests, he said, referring to Iran's desire to siphon Afghan water without restraint.
"The Afghan government needs to review its relations with the Iranian government," Balooch said. "This one-sided friendship has always been detrimental to Afghans, and the intention of Iran towards Afghanistan needs to be made clear."
"What kind of friendship is this when the Iranian government supports armed opposition to the Afghan government and engages in destroying infrastructure projects of Afghanistan?" he asked.
Iran's duplicitous policies towards Afghanistan and its interference in Afghans' internal affairs have continued for years, said Muhammad Rafi Atayee, a civil society activist in Badghis province.
Instances of interference in Afghanistan's affairs have always led to fighting and taken the country down the path of destruction, he said.
"Afghanistan can undoubtedly achieve peace and prosperity in very little time if its neighbours stop meddling in its affairs," Atayee said.