on Thursday 2 September, 2021

US-supplied military gear moved into Iran, but 'almost everything' returned: Report

US armored vehicles belonging to the collapsed Afghan army seen in Iran. Date unclear. (via social media)
by : Amwaj.media

The scoop: Iranian sources have confirmed to Amwaj.media that US-supplied Afghan military equipment has made it into Iran—but they also allege that "almost everything" has been returned to Taliban forces. Iranian authorities have so far not issued any statements on images circulating on social media of American-made armored vehicles being moved inside Iran. The footage is undated, but the vehicles are believed to have been driven into Iran in recent weeks by Afghan government troops fleeing the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

Speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter, a senior Iranian official stated that “almost everything of the equipment was returned at the same time,” without elaborating on specific dates. He added that there are “only a few vehicles left that need an agreement to be returned.” A second high-ranking source in Tehran confirmed to Amwaj.media that most of the US-supplied vehicles are no longer in Iran and that only some are left. Given that the Afghan government has collapsed, the counterpart for a potential accord on the return of the equipment is unclear.

The context: Humvees are seen in some of the footage circulated on social media, but no further details have been released about the US-supplied equipment that has been moved to Iran. The bigger picture is that even if Tehran holds on to some of the gear, it is merely a drop in an ocean of US military equipment that is available next door.

The US reportedly handed an estimated 28B USD worth of weapons to the Afghan government during 2002-17.

Importantly, the US-supplied equipment seen in the images is claimed to have been transported by the Iranian army, and not the parallel Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This lends credence to the claims that most of the gear has been returned to Afghanistan.

The images of the gear being moved inside Iran have stirred criticisms from members of the collapsed Afghan government. Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi, the defense minister of the collapsed Afghan government, has referred to Iran as a “bad neighbor.”

Russian media has relayed peculations that Iran allegedly bought US-supplied armored vehicles, drones and choppers belonging to the Afghan army for a fraction of their worth, and that it could reverse engineer them.

The future: This is not the first time that Iran has gotten its hands on US military equipment sent to Afghanistan. In 2011, Iran shot down and later reverse engineered a RQ-170 drone operated by the US military. The prospect of US equipment being reverse engineered thus has a precedent, although it is not an assured outcome.

As a result of the collapse of the Afghan military, more than 2,000 armored vehicles as well as dozens of aircraft and drones are now believed to be in the hands of the Taliban. In other words, access to US weaponry at least for research purposes is unlikely to be an issue for the Iranian authorities.