Taliban being supported by Iran and Russia?

Washington Free Beacon:
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that Russia and Iran are supporting the Taliban in part to undermine the U.S. and NATO mission to attain peace and stability in the nation.

Army Gen. John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran is providing the Taliban in western Afghanistan with military and logistical support.

Tehran also is recruiting Shiite fighters in Afghanistan to fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, raising concerns that these militants will return and destabilize the nation, Nicholson testified.

Nicholson said Russia's involvement in Afghanistan has become "more difficult" over the past year, as Moscow has worked to "publicly legitimize" the Taliban.

Russian officials argue the Taliban is fighting the Islamic State while the Afghan government has done nothing, inaction they say threatens greater turmoil in the country. Nicholson said this is a "false narrative" intended to give the group credibility.

A report published last month by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction noted the Afghan government lost control or influence of 15 percent of its territory from Nov. 2015 to Nov. 2016.

"Russia, Iran, and al Qaeda are playing significant roles in Afghanistan—this wasn't the case a few years ago," Nicholson testified. “I believe [these actions] are in part to undermine the United States and NATO, and prevent this strong partnership that we have with the Afghans in the region.”

In December, Russia hosted a trilateral meeting in Moscow with the top foreign ministry officials from Pakistan and China to review the growing threat of ISIS in Afghanistan. The discussions drew ire from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who questioned Russia's motives because it did not invite his government.
I would think if Russia is really interested in defeating ISIL it would be supporting the US effort in Afghanistan and not that of the illiterate Islamic religious bigots who fight with the Taliban.  If Trump expects to have an anti-ISIL coalition with Russia, he is going to have to change this dynamic in Afghanistan.

The Russians have already found that they cannot trust the Iranians in Syria and there is no reason for them to be trusted in Afghanistan.  If they are both collaborating to undermine the US effort in Afghanistan, I see little hope for a deal in Syria.


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