After openly endorsing the 2001 NATO invasion that removed them from power and supporting the Karzai government in Afghanistan for years, US officials claim that Iran has quietly begun providing funding and even limited armaments to certain Taliban fighters.
Such a move would be surprising, given Iran’s acrimonious relationship with Taliban-run Afghanistan and long-standing efforts to court the new government. Details on the scope of this program are scant, as indeed is evidence that it is happening at all.
It may not be as far-fetched as it sounds, however, with suggestions that after 13 years of inconclusive war, Iran is looking to “hedge their bets” in case the Taliban ultimately end up back in power in Afghanistan, and hope that some nominal support would keep them from being immediate enemies.
Perhaps even more plausible is that the funds are aimed at countering the recent rise of ISIS in Afghanistan, with Afghan officials saying they believe Iran is looking to counter ISIS growth in the country by propping up the Taliban.
That makes some sense, as Iran is already heavily involved in the fight against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, and struggling as that war is, they’d clearly prefer not to have ISIS on both their eastern and western borders.