US Army Lt. Col. Edward Sholtis today accused Iran of providing both “materiel” and training for “Taliban elements” in Afghanistan. Another, unnamed US official also claimed that Iran was conducting small-scale weapons training for Taliban fighters.
The allegations appear to be based at least partially on claims by two unnamed Taliban “commanders” who say that the Iranian government was paying for them to attend a three month training course in IED attacks in the Iranian city of Zahedan.
Such allegations from US officials crop up from time to time, but are never given much credence, given the history of animosity between the Taliban and the Iranian government. Officials never seem to present a plausible reason for Iran’s Shi’ite government, which only barely tolerates its Sunni minority, to back a Sunni militant group which openly calls for the death of all Shi’ites as heretics.
It is entirely plausible that Taliban forces might be in Zahedan, a Sunni dominated city along the border which is teaming with militant factions who regularly attack the Iranian government and the city’s Shi’ite minority. Claims that the two are working together, however, seem to center primarily around American assumptions that every faction not on good terms with the United States must secretly be in cahoots.