Tehran fanning regional instability by backing Taliban, says US envoy

New US Ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, said Tehran’s backing of the Taliban could “destabilize Iran’s eastern borders”. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 27 March 2018
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Tehran fanning regional instability by backing Taliban, says US envoy

KABUL: Tehran’s backing of the Taliban could “destabilize Iran’s eastern borders,” said the new US ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass.
“Iran is providing logistical support to the Taliban,” he told the BBC in an interview aired on Tuesday, adding that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is involved in the backing. “It is tough to know why Iran sees fanning the war in Afghanistan as in its interest.”
Tehran has been fanning regional instability and sectarian conflict for the past five years, Bass said.
At the time of writing, it was not possible to reach Iran’s embassy in Kabul for comment. But a Taliban spokesman told Arab News that the US ambassador’s comments are baseless propaganda aimed at “covering America’s failure in Afghanistan and remaining here.”
The comments by Bass come days after Washington’s top general in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, who heads the NATO-led force in the country, said Moscow is arming the Taliban.
The group has waged an insurgency against the Afghan government and the US-led coalition since its ouster in late 2001.
Russia’s Embassy in Kabul said Nicholson’s comments were “idle gossip.” Last month, Bass denied Iranian and Russian claims that Washington is backing Daesh.
Tehran and Moscow were enemies of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan for five years, but in recent years they have forged ties with the group, which is active in vast parts of the country.
Iran and Russia say the ties are merely to protect their nationals in Afghanistan and to persuade the Taliban to join the peace process.
Najib Mahmoud, a political science professor, told Arab News that the allegations by Nicholson and Bass are part of “big US rivalries with Iran and Russia in other parts of the world, such as Syria and Ukraine.”
Mahmoud added: “Countries in the region and beyond are directly and indirectly involved in the Afghan war, with each pursuing their interests and seeking to crush their rivals.”
He said: “It would be very wise for the Afghan government to not allow the country to be further trampled on by taking sides in this war.”


Eighth lawmaker quits Britain’s Labour Party

Joan Ryan, a Labour member of parliament. (Twitter)
Updated 5 min 33 sec ago
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Eighth lawmaker quits Britain’s Labour Party

  • Corbyn, a supporter of Palestinian rights and critic of the Israeli government, has previously been accused by some of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the party. He denies the allegation

LONDON: Joan Ryan, a Labour member of parliament, has become the eighth lawmaker to resign from Britain’s main opposition party.
Ryan, a lawmaker elected from Enfield North, wrote in a tweet late on Tuesday that she was resigning over concerns about anti-Semitism allegations within the party.
Seven other Labour lawmakers quit on Monday over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and a row over anti-Semitism, saying Britain’s main opposition party had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.”
In a letter posted on Twitter, Ryan accused the Labour Party of being “infected” with “anti-Jewish racism” since Corbyn became its leader in 2015. She alleged that the issue did not exist before Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.
Corbyn, a supporter of Palestinian rights and critic of the Israeli government, has previously been accused by some of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the party. He denies the allegation.
Ryan, who was first elected as member of parliament from Enfield North in 1997, will now be joining an independent breakaway group.
The seven lawmakers who quit the party on Monday will continue to sit as members of parliament under the banner “The Independent Group.”
Corbyn has cemented a shift to the left in Labour, taking control of a party that, under former Prime Minister Tony Blair, moved to the center to win and retain power for 13 years.