US and Iran trade accusations over Tehran’s alleged support of Taliban in Afghanistan

KABUL (TCA) — The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 21 said that Iran’s support to the Taliban in Afghanistan in the form of weapons and funding is leading to further violence and hinders peace and stability of the Afghan people, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

“Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaeda leaders,” Pompeo said at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, think tank.

He also demanded Iran make sweeping changes from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian civil war or face severe economic sanctions as President Donald Trump’s administration hardened its approach to Tehran.

He vowed “unprecedented financial pressure in the form of the strongest sanctions in history” unless Iran renounced all its nuclear activities, its ballistic-missile program, and its support of regional proxies.

Afghanistan’s ministry of defense has said that there is no evidence so far to prove that Iran was supporting the Taliban.

“Until now we have not had any solid evidence regarding the issue, but investigations are ongoing in this respect,” said MoD spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.

Tehran has dismissed accusations that it has been helping a Taliban push in an Afghan province bordering Iran, saying the claim is instigated by US commanders who try to divert public opinion from the real cause of the flare-up in violence, Iran’s PressTV news agency reported.

“The Taliban’s attack on Afghan cities and their recapture by government forces is not a new thing and is not related to good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in Tehran on Monday.

Qassemi said, “US commanders who have been unable to establish security in Afghanistan after years of massive military presence and shedding the blood of thousands of innocent people are trying to deflect the public opinion of Afghanistan from the real reasons behind the perpetuation of the war by accusing the Islamic Republic of supporting the Taliban.”

Some Afghan officials have charged that Iran was ratcheting up its support for the Taliban to disrupt development projects in Afghanistan, including dams which could reduce water flow to Iran.

Afghanistan has unveiled plans to construct 20 new dams, with Herat, Farah and Helmand being the three provinces where a significant number of rivers that flow toward Pakistan and Iran are sourced.

Iran and Afghanistan have been embroiled in water disputes for years, but Qassemi stressed that both countries continue to use “diplomatic channels” to resolve them.

“Linking this issue with Afghanistan’s internal affairs does not have any rational, correct and reasonable basis,” he said.

In an interview with TOLOnews, Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Reza Bahrami said, “If we (Iran) were really against the establishment of Salma Dam [in western Afghanistan], then we would not allow Iranian cement to be exported to Afghanistan and would never allow Iranian companies to work here.”

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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