There was some talk of Iranian support for the Taliban a while ago. I was sceptical of any sort of centrally organised support. A new bit of evidence for the mix can be found here.
Specific claims are as follows:-
- Heshmatollah Attarzadeh, the commercial attache at the Iranian consulate in Peshawar, kidnapped off a Peshawar Street in Nov 2008 was back in Iran on 30th March this year
- Sirajuddin Haqqani was a key broker
- Iranians supplied anti aircraft guns as part of the negotiation (it was these that caused the temporary halt to drone attacks in January
- There was a prisoner exchange involving one of bin Laden’s daughters (Iman bin Laden)
Which is all kind of interesting. There have been many reports of much of the bin Laden family making it to Iran after the NATO invasion of Afghanistan. Here the situation is described as something akin to mass house arrest:-
“Iran had not put them in jail. Instead, the al-Qaeda members and their families were placed in different houses. Later, they were brought together in a compound with comfortable private housing. Sirajuddin Haqqani’s men visited them and reported back to al-Qaeda that they were in good condition.”
The general conclusion is that there is now a new degree of trust between al Qaeda and Iran. And this is to the benefit of Iran, al Qaeda & the Haqqanis, but the Saudis, Egyptians and Pakistanis are a bit worried about it.
So far, so logical. I would imagine the Iranians would be only too happy to see how their guns manage against large numbers of drones. They have allies in Lebanon that might really like to know this pretty soon.
I am left wondering where it leaves the Quetta shura. Haqqani claimed that
Sirajuddin assured the Iranians that the Taliban bore no grudge against Iran or Shi’ites
Well, someone did. There are a lot of Hazara corpses that can testify to that more than any amount of words or reassurances. And they did it when the Taliban were in charge. While the apparent ‘dispersal’ tactics of the Quetta lead insurgents makes a whole lot of sense for a whole lot of reasons, I hear next to nothing From Mullah Omar these days. I have to wonder, if the greater ‘visibility’ of Haqqani leadership will impact recruitment and retention over there.
To me there does seem a possibility of some sort of nexus forming between Haqqani/Iran. At the same time Karzai has definitely been getting a bit chummy with the Iranians of late. Check one of a whole load of spookily similar articles out there.
There are a lot of groups who could benefit from that, but given the situation with the US & the Iranian nuclear program, I would say the US is not one of them. On the bright side, neither is the Quetta shura.