Border security remains a serious issue
As concern over whether or not Iran is supplying Afghan insurgents continues to accumulate, Canadian military officials are once again stressing that, while they have their suspicions, there is little solid evidence to support it.
"There were parts [of Improvised Explosive Devices] coming from Iran, there was parts also coming from other countries" says Brigadier-General Guy Laroche. "I cannot say from what I see on the ground that Iran is behind that."
Yet, NATO command staff do know that weapons and ammunition have crossed into Afghanistan from Iran. And while NATO commander General Dan McNeil has noted the lack of conclusive evidence, he has also expressed doubt -- very reasonably -- about whether or not the Iranian government can reasonably claim ignorance on the matter.
In short, what is at stake in this particular matter -- at the very least -- is actually border security.
"The border between Iran and Afghanistan is relatively porous and we have noticed that weaponry and ammunition does come across that border," says Antony McCord, a NATO spokesperson.
NATO countries must pressure Iran to properly secure its border with Afghanistan. If Iran declines to do so, it will certainly be up to NATO forces to secure that border -- at least on the Afghan side.
As for the suspicions being cast on the Iranian government, it would be easy to allow the matter to devolve into a rhetorical matter.
It would be easy to, like Iran's consul in Khandahar, dismiss these concerns as "American propaganda being repeated by Canada". In fact, some people have.
Yet the aforementioned Iranian consul in Khandahar claims that the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan destabilizes the country (despite the fact that Afghanistan is currently no less stable than it ever has been -- perhaps even more so), and pose a threat to Iranian national security. Clearly, he feels it would be in Iran's best interest if NATO troops were driven out.
Furthermore, at least one Khandahar warlord admits to meeting Iranian emissaries who encouraged him to start a jihad against NATO troops.
Cutting off the supply of arms to Afghan insurgents will prove to be a key to victory in Afghanistan. Addressing the influx of weapons and IED components from Iran will be crucial in stemming the tide, as will be stemming the tide of arms and support from Pakistan.