U.S. General Accuses Iran of Helping Taliban in Afghanistan
Sean Maroney | Kabul 30 May 2010
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, says there is "clear evidence" that Iran is providing weapons and training to Taliban fighters in the war-torn country.
U.S. General Stanley McChrystal told reporters in the Afghan capital he understands that as a neighbor, Iran has a natural interest in Afghanistan.
But he says that relationship is at times "inappropriate," and that coalition forces are working in those instances to limit and stop it in the future.
"I think in many cases the assistance they provide and the interaction is healthy. There is however, clear evidence of Iranian activity - in some cases providing weaponry and training to the Taliban - that is inappropriate," McChrystal said.
The Iranian government has repeatedly denied Western claims it is providing support for the insurgency.
General McChrystal also stressed that the foreign component of the Afghan insurgency is just part of the overall problem.
"We cannot assume that the insurgency in Afghanistan is entirely a foreign problem although there is a foreign component to it," McChrystal said. "We must also address the causes [and] the frustrations that lead to the rise of insurgency inside Afghanistan and address those with the people who have decided to rise against the government."
Afghan delegates from around the country are gathering in Kabul for President Hamid Karzai's upcoming traditional peace assembly, known as a jirga, to discuss a consensus on how to deal with insurgents.
Fatima Aziz is a member of the Afghan parliament from the insecure province of Kunduz. She will be attending the National Consultative Peace Jirga this week.
She tells VOA that holding a peace jirga now, after nearly a decade of the current conflict, is more difficult considering the increased number of grievances and insurgent factions. But she says she believes it is not too late to begin the process.
The three-day jirga, beginning June 2nd will gather 1,600 tribal elders and politicians from around Afghanistan. The three major questions to be discussed at the assembly are whom should the Karzai government talk to with regard to the Taliban, where should these talks be held, and who will lead the negotiations for the Afghan government?
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