Following the U.S. Withdrawal, Iran Sees New Opportunities in Afghanistan

July 21 2021

With American troops having abandoned Afghanistan, and the Taliban making advances almost every day, Tehran seeks to use the situation to its advantage. Two weeks ago, the mullahs hosted representatives of both the central government in Kabul and the Taliban—while also concentrating troops at the border. It is unclear which of the two the Islamic Republic favors: as a Sunni group ruling a country whose population is between 15- and 30-percent Shiite, the Taliban is a rival to Shiite Iran; but it is also a fellow anti-American Islamist group. Farzin Nadimi analyzes the situation:

Many in [the regime in Tehran] view Taliban control as Afghanistan’s only feasible political option—or, at least, the only option for a friendly Islamic state. This attitude may explain why Iranian weapons have a long habit of showing up across the border. Many such weapons have been confiscated from the Taliban over the years, and although Tehran may or may not have supplied them directly, at least some of them bear strong lineage to those found among Shiite groups in Iraq during their 2005-2011 insurgency.

Tehran respects the Taliban’s resilience, and notwithstanding their ideological differences, they have a lot in common, including their radical views and hostility toward the United States. This affinity could pave the way toward future strategic cooperation, provided the Taliban is willing to give credible guarantees for safeguarding the interests of Afghan Shiites.

Iran’s recent military movements on the Afghan border may just be a precautionary defensive measure; alternatively, they could constitute preparations for a cross-border incursion. Serious consideration should also be given to the possibility that Tehran envisions the “Syrianification” or “Iraqification” of Afghanistan, perhaps by using proxy militias to set up a Shiite safe-haven in the Herat province and elsewhere. Over time, such a strategy could produce a powerful, Iranian-supported military force in parallel to the Afghan security forces, much like what has happened with Iraq’s al-Hashd al-Shabi.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Afghanistan, Iran, Shiites, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy