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Iran now operates at least four Taliban training camps, according to Afghan officials and Dr. Abdullah, the Taliban commander. They are in the Iranian cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Zahedan and in the province of Kerman.
Iran formalized its alliance with the Taliban by allowing the group to open an office in Mashhad, maintaining a presence there since at least the beginning of 2014, a foreign official said. The office has gained so much clout that some foreign officials are now referring to it as the “Mashhad Shura,” a term used to describe the Taliban’s leadership councils.(20161013)
Iran has now upped the stakes in its relationship with the Taliban. Tehran used to hide visits by the insurgent group but now Iran has openly invited Taliban leaders to an Islamic conference, describing them as “moderate.”
Russia, on the other hand, is back to Cold War shenanigans, only the role has been reversed. Americans are now in Afghanistan and Moscow wants to play the role of the liberator from foreign occupation — even though on paper and in media the Russians approve of NATO and Resolute Support carrying out operations in Afghanistan. The Kremlin smells an opportunity to bleed Washington in Afghanistan, the same way Washington split open the Soviet Union about three decades ago.(20161224)