Gen. Campbell: Iran is Arming the Taliban

October 6, 2015

Iran is providing financial and material support to the Taliban, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Tuesday.

"At this level, I can tell you we have some reports that Iran has provided money, weapons—mostly in the west, in the Herat area—to the Taliban to fight Daesh [Islamic State]," Gen. John Campbell said.

"So they’re supporting the Taliban right now—Iran is, with money and weapons," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) said.

Campbell agreed, saying that he did not know the exact nature or scale of Iranian support for the Taliban.

The tense alliance between Shiite Iran and the Taliban, a Sunni insurgency, dates back years. International forces interdicted Iranian arms shipments intended for Taliban groups as early as 2007.

In addition to its provision of weapons to the Taliban, Iran pays salaries and runs at least four training camps for Taliban insurgents.

"Iran supplies us with whatever we need," a Taliban commander told the Wall Street Journal.

Gen. Campbell noted that Iran was arming the Taliban in order to fight the Islamic State, omitting Iran’s other reason for supporting the terrorist insurgency.

Iran’s strategy in Afghanistan is twofold, according to a Wall Street Journal report: "Countering U.S. influence in the region and providing a counterweight to Islamic State’s move into the Taliban’s territory in Afghanistan."

Iran’s anti-Western support for the Taliban appears to be paying dividends, as the group briefly seized control of Kunduz last week, its first capture of a major city since the U.S. invasion in 2001.

The Taliban has reemerged as a viable insurgency in the past year as the Obama administration has drawn down U.S. military presence in the country.