Sunday, February 08, 2009

Iran targeted by cfr

What many people do not realize is that Iran does not at this time have
the respources to become heavily involved in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, and
Pakistan to replace america or the EU. Furthermore, the cfr borrows
heavily on Chapter 8 of my first book, "Victimization of the Farsi,
Arab, Turanian, and Central and Western Asian Peoples" where I made
similar statements for the region back in 2003-4. That is the same book
I did time in 2004 for publishing and again in 2008 for putting 3 brown
pigs in the hospital when i went to retrieve the copy of that book from
the watson institute. If you doubt this the 3 cfr members who read that
book are tom biersteker, barry posen, and dick holbrooke, and we all
know what the last named is doing in that region.
Peter Khan Zendran

Iran and the Future of Afghanistan
Authors: Greg Bruno, Staff Writer
Lionel Beehner

Updated: February 6, 2009

Cross-Border Ties
Mutual Interests and Missed Opportunities
A Change in Tactic
The United States, Iran, and the Future of Afghanistan


In crafting a new approach to the war in Afghanistan, U.S. military and
political leaders say Iran-once dubbed a member of the "axis of evil" by
former President George W. Bush-could play a key role. Despite ongoing
concerns over Iran's nuclear program and allegations of arming militants
in the region, Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in the
region, says Washington and Iran could coalesce around stabilizing
Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
echoed the sentiment (PDF) in late January 2009. NATO partners, too,
have sought to include Iran in Afghan strategy decisions. German
lawmakers have called for the creation of a "contact group" of nations
to chart a new regional course. "Such an initiative, that would include
Iran, would benefit if it came to direct talks between Washington and
Tehran," Andreas Schockenhoff, vice chairman of Germany's Christian
Democratic Party, said in a statement reported by German media.

Yet bringing Iran into the fold, and judging Tehran's willingness to do
so, is complicated by Iran's historic relationship to its eastern
neighbor. For one, Iran is accused of supplying weapons to Taliban
rebels operating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Allegations have
been tempered in recent months, but experts nonetheless see a number of
reasons why a strengthened Taliban would serve Iran's interests,
particularly in keeping U.S. forces off balance. "It is true that Iran
was helping the Taliban out," possibly by supplying weapons and
training, says Elizabeth Rubin, an Afghan expert. But, she adds, "in the
big picture the Iranians do not want the Taliban back."

Cross-Border Ties
Iran has close linguistic and cultural ties to Afghanistan, particularly
with Tajiks, Persian-speaking Afghans in Herat Province, and the Hazara,
a Shiite minority residing in central and northern Afghanistan. Iranian
influence in this region runs deep; the city of Herat served as the
capital of the Persian empire in the early fifteenth century, and
remained a center of Iranian power and culture until it was taken by
Dost Mohammed Khan in 1863 and made a de facto Afghan border state. In
modern times, Tehran's role has often aligned with U.S. interests. Iran
opened its borders to millions of Afghan refugees during the war against
the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Later in the 1990s it worked with various
mujahadeen groups, including the Northern Alliance of Tajik, Uzbek, and
Hazara militias, to undermine Soviet influence and later Taliban rule.
After the Taliban took power in 1996, Iran's supreme leader denounced
the group as an affront to Islam, and the killing of eleven Iranian
diplomats and truck drivers in 1998 almost triggered a military

A regional contact group “that would include Iran would benefit if it
came to direct talks between Washington and Tehran.” -- Andreas
Schockenhoff, Vice Chairman, German Christian Democratic Party
Iran's influence, however, has not always been welcomed by some local
Afghans. CFR Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh writes in his book, Hidden Iran:
Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, that "fiercely independent
Afghan tribes have historically resisted Persian encroachment and have
jealously guarded their rights." But Iranian cultural and economic
expansion continues apace. Iranian radio broadcasts fill the airwaves,
Iran-funded road and building projects are under way, a new teacher
training center is planned for Kabul, and a Herat-Khaf rail link
(Pajhwok) is being constructed to connect Afghanistan and Iran by train.
Iran has also offered humanitarian aid to Kabul in the form of fuel and
transport-as much as $500 million since 2001, according to the U.S.
Congressional Research Service. CFR's Rubin, who has spent years as a
journalist in Afghanistan, says Shiite Afghans are better off
financially than most of their counterparts because of aid from Tehran.

Mutual Interests and Missed Opportunities
Iran has important domestic interests in seeing a stable Afghanistan
rise on its eastern flank. Four percent of Iran's total exports in 2006
(PDF), according to the most recent data available, went to Afghanistan,
accounting for more than $503 million in revenue. Iran is also building
roads and expanding its industrial base inside Afghanistan's western
border. But arguably the most pressing concern for Iran is gaining the
upper hand in Afghanistan's booming drug trade. Iran serves as the major
transport hub for opiates produced by its neighbor, and the UN Office of
Drugs and Crime estimates that Iran has as many as 1.7 million opiate

Following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September
11, 2001, Iran showed a willingness to facilitate U.S. efforts in
Afghanistan, including drug interdiction programs. Tehran worked with
Western countries as part of the Six-Plus-Two framework on Afghanistan
and also at the Bonn Conference to cobble together a post-Taliban system
of government. Tehran also normalized relations with the Afghan
government of President Hamid Karzai, and "deported hundreds" (National
Interest) of al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders who had sought refuge in Iran,
according to two senior U.S. officials involved in regional policy at
the time.

One of them, Hillary Mann Leverett, who served as director for Iran and
Persian Gulf affairs at the National Security Council in the George W.
Bush administration, told Congress in November 2007 that Iran's
cooperation with the United States on al-Qaeda, Iraq, and especially
Afghanistan after 9/11 was largely positive (PDF). In each case, she
said, "Iran hoped and anticipated that tactical cooperation with the
United States would lead to a genuine strategic opening between our two
countries." But by May 2003-sixteen months after Bush's "axis of evil"
declaration during his January 2002 State of the Union speech-channels
of communication with Iran had closed. Mann Leverett now believes failed
talks over the years have increased the mistrust between Washington and
Tehran to nearly unworkable levels. Discussing limited tactical issues
like Afghanistan, she says, must be part of a broader comprehensive
strategy where everything--from U.S. nuclear concerns to Iranian
frustration with security and sanctions--is on the table.

A Change in Tactic
Soured diplomatic relations were followed by claims of Iranian support
to Islamic militants, first in Iraq, and then in Afghanistan. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in June 2007 that "given the
quantities that we're seeing, it is difficult to believe that it's
associated with smuggling or the drug business or that it's taking place
without the knowledge of the Iranian government." U.S. officials say
that Iranian-made weapons, including Tehran's signature roadside
bomb-the explosively formed penetrator (EFP)-as well as AK-47s, C-4
plastic explosives, and mortars have been found in Afghanistan and used
by Taliban-led insurgents. They are concerned because Taliban forces
increasingly use more sophisticated weaponry and mimic the style of
suicide attacks popular among insurgents in Iraq. Iran also stands
accused of offering sanctuary to opponents of the Afghan government and
violating Afghan airspace. Iranian officials deny the charges.

Experts say a strengthened Taliban would benefit Tehran in a number of
ways. Peter Tomsen, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, told
in 2006 that a weakened Afghan state lessens the likelihood it can
become a U.S. ally against Iran. By maintaining a certain level of
instability, he said, "it keeps us tied down. After all, we have air
bases in Afghanistan where we could mount attacks on Iran." Some
analysts call it "managed chaos," a strategy they say is similar to the
one Iran employs in Iraq. Others see abetting the Taliban as a means to
boost Iran's leverage at a time when it is under pressure to end its
uranium-enrichment program. Despite Iran's Shiite brand of Islam, Tehran
has thrown its support behind majority Sunni groups in Iraq and
elsewhere. As Takeyh writes in his book, "[F]or Tehran the issue in
Afghanistan has not been ideological conformity but stability."

“If they can get to the moderates … then there is a lot of room for
cooperation, especially if it is not pitched as a U.S. plan but a
regional one.” -- Elizabeth Rubin, CFR Press Fellow
But experts disagree on whether the Iranian government is directly
involved. Some have refuted Gates' remarks and say the weapons could
have been smuggled into Afghanistan via various third-party channels.
Others suggest they are being supplied by hard-line components within
the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (the Mashhad-based Fourth Corps is
responsible for projecting Iranian power in Afghanistan (PDF)), which
has a separate agenda from the Iranian foreign ministry, which in turn
has a separate agenda from Iran's business community. "We're talking
about rogue elements," Col. Christopher Langton, a senior fellow at the
London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told
in 2006, "maybe even cross-border organizational criminal groupings." He
said that arms factories in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province make
copies of the weapons made in Iran.

The United States, Iran, and the Future of Afghanistan
Suggestions persist that Iran might have a positive role to play in
stabilizing its war-ravaged neighbor, where in early 2009 violence was
spiking and Taliban fighters were gaining strength. U.S., NATO, and UN
officials have all noted Tehran's support of the government in Kabul. A
number of experts stress that Iran wants stability and prosperity on its
eastern doorstep for commercial and trade reasons. Yet Iranian actions
continue to raise doubts about Tehran's intent. The January 2009
deportation of Afghan refugees by Iran was just the latest in what
Afghan officials in Kabul see as a string of "broken promises" (RFE/RL).
An estimated 1 million UN-registered refugees remain in Iran. A U.S.
State Department spokesman, meanwhile, expressed "great concern" with
Iran's February 2009 launch of a satellite that he said "could possibly
lead to the development of a ballistic missile system."

More broadly, experts question whether the issue of Afghanistan can
serve as a bridge to broader negotiations for Washington and Tehran.
CFR's Rubin says there is a whole moderate wing of Iranian lawmakers
that hope it can: "If they can get to the moderates, and I believe the
Iranian ambassador in Afghanistan is one of the moderates, then there is
a lot of room for cooperation, especially if it is not pitched as a U.S.
plan but a regional one." Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, notes in an October 2008
policy paper (PDF) that "Afghanistan presents even more fertile ground
for U.S.-Iranian cooperation" than the issue of stability in Iraq. And
writing in The New York Review of Books, a trio of Iran experts suggests
the Obama administration should, unlike its predecessor, treat
negotiations over Afghanistan and Iraq border security--vital concerns
for Iran--as inseparable from the nuclear issue.

But cooperation over Afghanistan--not to mention the nuclear problem or
even Iraq--is far from a foregone conclusion. Barnett R. Rubin, an
Afghan expert and director of studies at New York University's Center
for International Cooperation, writes that reaching a consensus on
Afghanistan is colored by the historic "animus" between Washington and
Tehran, which began with the 1953 CIA-led coup in Iran and was cemented
by the Iranian revolution of 1979. Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations and a former envoy to Kabul, says that
Iran still sees Afghanistan as a "bargaining chip" (Bloomberg) against
American aggression. Masood Aziz, a former Afghan diplomat in
Washington, meanwhile, predicts that "Iran is going to be one of the key
pillars of our strategy which is going to help resolve this issue. Iran
has the potential to be extremely helpful." But he adds: "Discussions
and talks are one thing; how to go about implementing cooperation [with
Iran] is another."

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Blogger DON'T TREAD ON ME said...

seems kind of hypocritical for the CFR to criticize Iran for causing trouble in Iraq, as 55% to 60% of the anti-Shiite suicide bombers are from Saudi Arabia.

6:58 PM  

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