Yes, Iran’s elite forces are providing the Taliban with dangerous rockets, overcoming Shia Iran’s longstanding antipathy for the Sunni extremists in Afghanistan. But Gen. David Petraeus, commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, played down Iran’s interference like it was no big deal.
In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Petraeus confirmed that NATO had recently intercepted a weapons shipment that the British linked to Iran. According to Petraeus, Iran’s Qods Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, provided 48 122 millimeter rockets to a “known Taliban facilitator.” The rockets are twice the range of the 107-mm rockets the Taliban typically employ, with “twice the bursting radius.”
It’s significant that Petraeus laid the blame for the rockets at the feet of the Qods Force. When Petraeus was commander in Iraq, U.S. forces came across a kind of shape-charged homemade bomb called an Explosively Formed Penetrator that commanders understood came from Iran. But there was a debate amongst analysts about whether those bombs entered Iraq through the black market or were part of a deliberate Iranian strategy of interference.
Petraeus’ remarks were unambiguous: Iran “without question” provides “weapons, training and funding” to the Taliban, Petraeus said, despite the sectarian divides and history of acrimony to them. But he also made it out like the Iran/Taliban relationship was small beer.<... >>>
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