Iran is On the Taliban's Side in Afghanistan – Not Ours
1:34 PM, Sep 17, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
In his op-ed for the Washington Post this morning, David Ignatius writes (emphasis added):
What is Ignatius talking about? For the umpteenth time, Iran is not on our side in Afghanistan. They are currently allied with the Taliban, the mullahs’ one-time enemy. Iran is not going to help us “undermine the Taliban.” They are working with the Taliban to undermine the U.S.-led coalition.
This is not a secret, so why does Ignatius neglect to mention it?
Here is just a small sample of the publicly-available reporting on Iran’s collusion with the Taliban.
In this year’s Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department reports (as it has in years prior as well):
In written testimony given to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee in February 2009, then Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair explained (emphasis added):
General David Petraeus, in written testimony given to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year, wrote that “the Iranian regime appears to have hedged its longstanding public support for the Karzai government by providing opportunistic support to the Taliban.” Petraeus also wrote that “al-Qaeda continues to use Iran as a key facilitation hub, where facilitators connect al-Qaeda’s senior leadership to regional affiliates.”
General Stanley McChrystal downplayed the impact of collusion between Iran and the Taliban in his report on Afghanistan last year. Nonetheless, he noted (emphasis added):
U.S. military leaders downplay the significance of Iran’s actions because they undoubtedly understand that Iran’s “lethal support” is an act of war. (U.S. intelligence officials have told me as much.) There are dead Americans to prove it.
Iran even pays bounties to the Taliban for each dead American. This reporting is based on Taliban sources, as well as ISAF intelligence reports leaked by WikiLeaks.
It is easy to cite dozens of other similar reports. It is obvious that Iran is on the Taliban’s side in the war against the U.S.-led coalition.
If David Ignatius believes there is a window of opportunity for negotiations with Iran concerning Afghanistan, then fine. The evidence he cites for this proposition is thin, at best, and the notion that Iranian president Ahmadinejad “has been, in Iranian terms, an advocate of engagement with the West” is absurd.
But let’s play along. If we can actually have some meaningful negotiations with the mullahs, then America can begin by demanding that Iran stop killing Americans in Afghanistan (and Iraq). It makes no sense to pretend, as Ignatius does, that Iran “wants to join regional efforts to stabilize Afghanistan” while the Iranians are helping the Taliban kill Americans and Afghans.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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