Gareth Porter writes on Cheney's Iran-Arms-to-Taliban Gambit Rebuffed Inter Press Service 06/11/07. He writes that the drug trade certainly accounts for some trafficing of arms along the Iran-Afghanistan border:
[Defense Secretary Robert] Gates and [NATO Afghanistan commander Gen. Dan] McNeill are obviously aware of the link between arms entering Afghanistan from Iran and the flow of heroin from Afghanistan into Iran. It is well known that Afghan drug lords who command huge amounts of money have been able to penetrate the long and porous border with ease. They have undoubtedly been involved in buying arms in Iran with their drug proceeds for both themselves and the Taliban, which protects their drug routes. Smuggling is relatively easy because of the money available for bribery of border guards.He also reminds us that the bulk of outside arms supplied to the Taliban is coming from Pakistan, an ally in Bush's Global War on Terrorism:
Another factor helping to explain the influx of arms from Iran, as noted by former Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Momand in an interview on Pakistan's GEO television Apr. 19, is that the Taliban now controls areas on the Iranian border for the first time. Momand said the Taliban, which is awash in money from the heroin exports to Iran, buys small quantities of weapons in Iran and smuggles them back into Afghanistan.
But the Iranian government itself is not involved in the trade in arms, Momand insisted.
Afghanistan specialist Seth Jones of the Rand Corporation, who visited Afghanistan most recently in early 2007, says some elements of the Iranian government may be involved in arms trafficking but that it is "very small-scale support" and that Iran does not want to strengthen the Taliban.Tags: afghanistan war, iran war
NATO commanders in Pakistan have long been aware that the Taliban has been dependent on Pakistan for its arms and ammunition. The Telegraph reported Sunday that a NATO report on a recent battle shows the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells and had stocked over one million rounds of ammunition, all of which came from Quetta, Pakistan during the spring months.