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.”


Afghanistan announces Muslim Eid holiday cease-fire with Taliban

Updated 19 August 2018
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Afghanistan announces Muslim Eid holiday cease-fire with Taliban

  • “We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” President Ashraf Ghani said
  • Ghani’s cease-fire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other militant groups such as Daesh

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday announced a cease-fire with Taliban insurgents from Monday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday, despite the heavy fighting seen over recent days in the central city of Ghazni.
“The conditional cease-fire will start tomorrow and it will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it,” he said in an Afghan Independence Day ceremony in Kabul.
“We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” he said.
A senior official in Ghani’s office said the “conditional” cease-fire would run for three months.
It was not immediately clear whether the Taliban had accepted Ghani’s call for a truce during Eid, the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, which officially begins on Tuesday.
This month the Taliban fought an intense battle with Afghan forces to control the strategically important city of Ghazni.
At least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day siege, which eased last week when Afghan soldiers backed by US forces pushed back the heavily armed rebels.
The Taliban said in a statement that they had control over half of Afghanistan.
Blasts, suicide attacks and clashes between hard-line Islamic militants and Afghan forces killed over 1,600 civilians in the first six months of the year, the highest number in the past decade, the United Nations said in a statement on Sunday.
Ghani’s cease-fire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other militant groups such as Daesh.