The Killid Group, November 24, 2015
War worsens in border areas
Are there foreign hands behind the ongoing fighting in Zabul, Farah and Helmand?
By Habib Weqar
Comments by Members of Parliament (MPs) and political observers point to the involvement of Iran and Pakistan in supplying arms to the two rival factions of Taleban. Authorities in charge of security have confirmed the trend, particularly in the south and southwestern provinces.
Mohammad Nazir Ahmadzai, the second deputy in Parliament said lawmakers have received a report on Iran’s helping Taleban in the southern provinces with arms, clear evidence of interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
According to local authorities, Iran is seeking to stop the influence of Islamic State (ISIS), and support to the Taleban has increased as a result in recent months. MPs like Samiaullah Sameem who represents Farah province blames Iran for the worsening security situation. “The war between Taleban and ISIS is managed by Iran - Iran gives weapons to Taleban,” he says. Sameem thinks ISIS has turned Farah into a base, which is strongly repudiated by the provincial police chief Fazel Mohammad Samadyar.
He believes that if Iran were to stop funding and equipping Taleban, security forces would be able to crush the fighters. “Now the case is clear to all that Taleban have Iranian weapons and are being supported in the southern provinces. They were always supported but since the emergence of ISIS, support and aid has increased,” Samadyar told Killid.
Meanwhile, the provinces of Nimroz, Helmand and Zabul, close to Farah, have also witnessed fighting between Taleban and ISIS.
A spokesperson of Mullah Mohammad Rassoul, leader of a faction of the Taleban, told the media recently that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor was being supported by Iran’s Sepah-e Pasdaran (army of the guardians of the Islamic Revolution). In turn, Mullah Mansoor’s group has accused Rassoul of being pro-Pakistan.
Political analyst Wahid Muzhda revealed the alliances in an interview with Killid. “Mullah Rassoul, Mullah Rahmani and their other friends had gone to Urumqui (China) in a Pakistan military plane for peace talks with the Afghan government. This is a group created by Pakistan, under its control, and for its own interests,” he said.
Haji Ata Jan Haqbayan, head of Zabul provincial council, believes Mullah Mansoor’s group was getting support from Iran. “The people of Zabul have clearly seen that the group led by Mullah Mansoor is being supported by Iran. They use Iranian weapons openly, weapons that are labeled made in Iran,” he claims.
Zabul Governor Mohammad Ashraf Naseri had earlier told the media that the Taleban who were created by Pakistan were getting help from Iran.
Evidence that Iran is supporting Taleban against ISIS has been strengthened in the wake of the grisly beheading of seven Hazara civilians in Zabul province recently, which sparked outrage and protests in Kabul and other places.
But Senate Complaints Commission head Zalmai Zabuli says Taleban and ISIS are two faces of one coin. He blames the present situation on the “tricks of Pakistani intelligence”. Zabuli thinks Taleban factions are being supported by Iran in the southern provinces. He fears that if the Afghan government does not pay attention to Zabul province, and Iran and Pakistan do not stop aiding the Taleban, the province may become a centre of armed fighters and a big headache for the government.
“People of Dayee Choopan, Khak Afghan, Mizan and Arghandab district tell us there are individuals among Taleban that speak in clear Iranian dialect. Since Taleban from the southern provinces do not speak Persian, these are definitely Iranians,” he insists.
Reports published in the media reveal Uzbek insurgents have joined ISIS ranks in Zabul. A commander of Mullah Mansoor, interviewed by Reuters news agency, said a group of Taleban led by Mullah Mansoor Dadullah was fighting Mullah Mansoor’s fighters, who are assisted by 400 individuals from Uzbekistan. He claimed Mullah Dadullah was linked to ISIS – a statement that was neither confirmed nor rejected by the Afghan government.
The reality is that it is hard to say who is fighting for whom and the Afghan government has been pressing Pakistan and Iran to stop supporting insurgency in the country. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also sent requests. General Dawlat Waziri, deputy spokesman for MoD, says that the ministry has started operations against armed opponents in Zabul and other southern provinces but there is no evidence that Iran has given weapons to Taleban in Zabul.
At least 13 civilians have been killed in fighting in Zabul. The death toll among Taleban factions fighting each other is much higher. According to reports, some 150 insurgents are dead and at least one hundred are injured.
A Zabuli resident was quoted in the media saying that a war is going on between Taleban and ISIS; Taleban and government forces; ISIS and government forces and among the two rival factions of Taleban in some districts in the province like Arghandab, Mizan and Khak Afghan. Some 200 families have fled towards the provincial capital or Kandahar City.
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