Tabriz, South Azerbaijan, May 15
The Taliban briefly overrun a district in western Afghanistan’s Farah Province bordering Iran, just days after the insurgents killed several Afghan security forces in another district in the province.
With Farah teetering on the brink of collapse, Afghan officials blame the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for aiding the Taliban insurgents in western Afghanistan in an effort to torpedo construction projects and undermine stabilization efforts by the US-led coalition in the region.
Unlike in the past, IRGC-affiliated media outlets now openly express support for the Taliban’s latest territorial gains in western Afghanistan, arguing that the Taliban pose no security threats to Iran and have managed to keep ISIS away from the Iranian borders.
In addition, one IRGC news agency raised alarm about the “growing influence” of Arab Gulf states in western Afghanistan, specifically citing Saudi Arabia’s interest to help finance the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, which will connect Central Asia to South Asia through western Afghanistan.
According to Afghan officials, Tehran wants to undermine the TAPI project because it rivals Iran’s own regional pipeline project.
Abdullah, a Taliban commander in central Afghanistan, told the Wall Street Journal on June:” we receive 580 $ salary from Iran per month, and Iran provides us whatever we need such as weapons and ammunition and everything we need.”