February 15, 2009
Iran is helping Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, said General David Petraeus, who is in charge of U.S. forces in the Central Asian nation and Iraq.
“There is a willingness to provide some degree of assistance to make the life of those who are trying to help the Afghan people difficult,” Petraeus told a conference today in the Qatari capital, Doha.
Petraeus gave no details of the Iranian assistance, which he described as taking place at “a small level.” The U.S. and its allies are watching Iran’s actions in Afghanistan “very, very closely,” he said, adding that the Persian Gulf state continues to train and equip Shiite Muslim militias in neighboring Iraq.
The Obama administration is preparing to commit as many as 30,000 more troops over the next year to beat back a renewed Taliban insurgency. Petraeus’s comments come as the U.S. is seeking to start a dialogue with Iran amid a continued standoff over its nuclear program.
Shiite Muslim Iran cooperated with the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the militant Sunni Muslim Taliban, noted Petraeus.
“It’s not in their interests to see the Taliban, a Sunni ultra-conservative, extremist element, return to take control of Afghanistan,” he told the conference on the U.S. role in the Islamic World.