Iran President Ahmadinejad attacks US during Afghanistan visit
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the US of playing a 'double game' during his Afghanistan visit, echoing an accusation lobbed at Tehran by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this week.
Iran fired up its verbal sparring match with the United States over Afghanistan on Wednesday, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Kabul and charged the US with playing a “double game” in the country.Skip to next paragraph
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The words echoed those of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who from the same podium at the presidential palace two days earlier accused Iran of “playing a double game” in Afghanistan by declaring support for the government while secretly assisting its Taliban enemies.
Mr. Ahmadinejad arrived just before Mr. Gates left Kabul, a fact that the US defense chief said was “certainly fodder for all the conspiratorialists.”
The Iranian president said the US-led military presence — which is set to surge to 100,000 troops by the end of the year — will not resolve any of the problems in Iran’s eastern neighbor.
“They are not successful in their fight against terrorists because they are playing a double game,” said Ahmadinejad. “They themselves created terrorists, and now they say they are fighting them. It’s not possible; we can see that. Billions of dollars spent [with] casualties on both sides.”
Ahmadinejad said that Iran’s recent bloodless capture of the man at the top of its most wanted list should serve as an example. On Feb. 23, Iran stated that it had forced down the plane carrying Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of the Jundallah (Soldiers of God), whose Sunni militants were responsible for a host of attacks against Revolutionary Guard and civilian targets in eastern Iran.
“Iran captured one terrorist, and didn’t kill anyone,” the Iranian president said. “It’s possible. The fight against terrorism is not a military one; it requires the work of intelligence.”
Iran: No support for Taliban
Iran denies American claims that it is providing help to the Sunni Taliban, which in past years was a sworn enemy of Shiite-led Tehran. Washington states that its military presence is protecting the Afghan government – not fostering more terrorism, or a Taliban resurgence.
Ahmadinejad highlighted numerous cases of US airstrikes killing civilians, a point raised repeatedly by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai as a key destabilizing factor recognized by US and NATO commanders.
In the most recent high-profile incident last month, America’s top military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, apologized directly to the Afghan people for the death of 27 civilians when their convoy was attacked by US special forces.
Ahmadinejad pledged “continued” support from Iran. But piqued by its ongoing row with the US, Europe, and the UN Security Council over its nuclear program, Iran declined to take part in a conference on Afghanistan's future in London in January.