Iran’s Role in the Murder of Two Americans in Tajikistan

Aug. 10 2018

On July 29, terrorists attacked a group of tourists in Tajikistan, killing four (including two Americans) and wounding three others. While Islamic State took responsibility for the attack, the attackers themselves seemed to have received training in Iran and were possibly working with a pro-Tehran group within Tajikistan. The former Soviet republic has a population that, unlike Shiite Iran, is 85-percent Sunni Muslim; but Tajik, the dominant language, is closely related to Persian. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs documents the Islamic Republic’s recent attempts to sow discord there:

[S]enior Tajik interior-ministry officials told the BBC that Islamic State was not connected to this incident, but rather that an affiliated Islamic movement, the Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) whose activities were legally banned three years ago, planned and carried out the attack. . . . IRPT, which was founded in 1990, has strong ties with Iran. It was first outlawed in Tajikistan in 1993 [but after 1997] its activities took place openly . . . In 2015, . . . two of its representatives [were] elected to the 63-seat parliament. However, Tajikistan declared again in 2015 that the party was a terror organization. . . . Yet the ties between the party and Iran strengthened.

In December 2015, Iran not only invited Muhiddin Kabiri, chairman of the IRPT, to a conference that took place in Tehran, entitled “Islamic Movements around the World,” but there was also a meeting between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Kabiri that aroused the anger of Tajikistan. . . . Relations between Tehran and Dushanbe continued to deteriorate [thereafter]. . . .

[T]he official news agency of Tajikistan published an article in the spring of 2017 emphasizing that Iran is gathering militias [affiliated with] IRPT that fought in the Syrian civil war on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. According to the news agency, the movement’s militias . . . are located in training camps along that border with the purpose of carrying out further attacks in the area. . . .

The Iranian [state-controlled] media . . . interview Kabiri often. In an interview with the Tasnim agency in June 2018, Kabiri refers to “the natural right” of his party as an Islamic party to have strong ties to Iran “as every Islamic organization or movement needs to have connections with Iran, which is an Islamic country with an Islamic leadership.” According to him, his movement also maintains “strong ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

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More about: Central Asia, Iran, ISIS, Islamism, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East