Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Reza Bahrami has rejected claims reported in U.S. media this week that Iran has provided support for the Taliban militancy in Afghanistan in order to stem the rise of Daesh.
In an exclusive interview with TOLOnews, Ambassador Bahrami denied Tehran's support for any terrorist groups in Afghanistan and said such proxy strategies are a danger to every country in the region. His comments come after an article published in the Wall Street Journal suggested that Iran was providing funding for Taliban groups committed to fighting Daesh in Afghanistan.
"Iran and Taliban do not have any relations," Ambassador Bahrami asserted. "In Iran's security strategy, there is no interpretation in connection with terrorist groups and any connection with these groups are against Iran, the region and outside the region," he added.
"We have one thousand kilometers of shared border with Afghanistan, and in our permanent strategy, there is development and support for the central government of Afghanistan."
Proxy warfare via the Taliban and other violent extremist groups in the region has largely defined relations between Afghanistan and its other neighbor Pakistan for well over a decade. In the case of Iran, however, while there is much evidence indicating its support for militant groups throughout the Arab world, including Shiite militias in Iraq fighting Daesh, much less attention has been paid to Tehran's real or perceived involvement in fighting in Afghanistan.
Yet Iran's top diplomat in Kabul disregards claims that the strategy being pursued relatively overtly by his country in Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere is being mirrored in Afghanistan as baseless and irrational. "Working with these groups and extremist movements that have no commitment and do not belong to any regional sovereignty has no good consequences and we are not interested in being involved in this issue," Ambassador Bahrami said. "Any extremist movement is a threat for the region."
At the moment, Iran is in the midst of negotiating a nuclear deal with the U.S. and its allies, looking to get economic sanctions lowered in exchange for concessions on its nuclear development program. Ambassador Bahrami suggested the report in the Wall Street Journal may have been aimed at derailing those negotiations.
There have been reports on Iran backing the Taliban in the past, after Iranian-made weapons were confiscated from militants by Afghan forces.