Iran’s support to the Taliban, which has included MANPADS and a bounty on US troops, could be a spoiler for peace in Afghanistan – By Shawn Snow (Military Times) / Jan 14 2020
As the U.S. looks to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, recent tensions coupled with Iran’s history of meddling in the country could jeopardize talks between the U.S. and the Taliban to end the 18-year long conflict.
U.S. military intelligence assessments dating back to 2010 suggest Iran’s elite paramilitary unit, the Quds Force, has track record of providing training and lethal arms to the Taliban. The list includes portable shoulder-fired air-defense systems known as MANPADS.
While the level of that support from Tehran does not appear to be a game changer on the battlefield, the recent succession of the former head of Iran’s Quds Force branch in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, to be the top commander of the elite Iranian unit could amplify Iran’s destabilization efforts in Afghanistan.
Ghaani was chosen by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to lead the Quds force following a Jan. 2 airstrike by the U.S. that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Phillip Smyth, a research fellow with the Washington Institute, told Military Times that the new Quds Force commander could be a spoiler for peace prospects in Afghanistan.