Despite Their History of Conflict, Iran and the Taliban Might Work Together

When the Taliban rose to power in the 1990s, it was greeted with hostility by the neighboring Islamic Republic. The Shiite mullahs who ruled Iran were particularly enraged by the Sunni mujahideen’s vicious persecution of Afghan Shiites. But more recently, explains Dore Gold, there have been signs of a somewhat more cooperative relationship:

The Iranians [have] pursued a strategy of supplying Taliban units with arms and cash as well as training Taliban fighters. . . . Iran was employing Shiite Afghans in Syria as well in order to advance Iranian interests in the Levant. They were used to promote Iran’s war against [rebel groups] on Syrian territory. But they also could provide an important force multiplier in Syria for Iran in a future war against Israel.

Both states were committed to seeing U.S. power in Afghanistan weakened. That joint interest should have pulled both countries into greater cooperation. But what will happen after the U.S. has withdrawn from Afghanistan? Does there remain any basis for Iranian-Afghan cooperation against American power once it is gone? What is more likely is that Iran will resume its policy of expansionism towards Afghanistan that it has demonstrated towards the Middle East as a whole in recent years.

There were also historical factors. When Persia—then known as the Safavid empire—officially made Shiism its state religion in the 16th century, its borders extended well beyond Iran’s present-day frontiers. In the east, the Safavid empire stretched to what is today the Afghan city of Herat. It should come as no surprise that one of the main languages of Afghanistan, Dari, is a dialect of Farsi, the Persian language. . . . Recovering lost Persian territories has been a theme of Iranian policy towards the Arab world and could well serve as a motive for the Iranians in their relations with their eastern neighbors, as well, especially Afghanistan.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Afghanistan, Iran, Taliban


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law