It’s amusing to see Ebrahim Raisi, the infamous “butcher of Tehran” who sentenced 5,000 political prisoners to death, now expressing his alarm over the reemergence of ISIS in Afghanistan. As a Shi’a mass murderer, Raisi is naturally alarmed at the Sunni mass murderers regrouping right next door. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
And as a past master of taqiyya himself, Raisi doesn’t believe the assurances by the Taliban that they will not allow any Islamic groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda — to use Afghanistan as a base of operations from which to attack other countries.
Iran will not allow the Islamic State group to establish a presence on the country’s border with Afghanistan, President Ebrahim Raisi warned on Saturday.
“We will not allow terrorist organizations and ISIS to set up next to our border and strike other countries and the region,” Raisi said as he wound up a visit to Tajikistan.
Shouldn’t Raisi be taking a less threatening and more persuasive tone, not laying down the law to the Taliban about the need for it to prevent ISIS from setting up shop in Afghanistan, but saying, instead, how glad Iran is that the Taliban have won, driving “the foreigners of the Great Satan out,” and something else to the effect that “we Iranians are grateful for the Taliban’s assurance that they will not permit terrorist organizations like ISIS to use Afghanistan as a base.” Same message, but in a softer, less grating, key.
“The presence of IS in Afghanistan is dangerous not only for Afghanistan but also for the region,” he told state television.
The Taliban took Afghanistan’s capital on August 15, exploiting a vacuum caused by the withdrawal of US troops from the country and the subsequent rapid collapse of the Afghan military.
Iran, which shares a 560-mile border with Afghanistan, did not recognize the Taliban during their 1996 to 2001 stint in power.
Yet the Islamic Republic has appeared to soften its tough stance towards the Sunni militia in recent times in the name of pragmatism, stressing that the Taliban must be “part of a future solution” in Afghanistan.
The Islamic Republic, mindful that the Taliban were certain to conquer all of Afghanistan, thought it only made sense to accept the inevitable. Besides, whatever Iran’s reservations about the Taliban, it was delighted at the defeat of the Americans. While Iran did not recognize the first Taliban government, that ruled from 1996 to 2001, this time it was determined to do things differently, in the hope of extracting a permanent commitment from Kabul to keep terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base for attacks.
Afghanistan’s new rulers have formed a government composed entirely of Taliban and belonging almost entirely to the Pashtun ethnic group.
“A government belonging to only one ethnic or political group cannot solve Afghanistan’s problems,” Raisi said on Saturday, calling for a government with representation for all Afghans.
Raisi wants “ethnic diversity” in Afghanistan’s new, nearly all-Pashtun government. Never mind that the Persians in the Islamic Republic keep power in their hands, while their own minorities – Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, and Baluchis – are largely sidelined from political power. Raisi agrees with Emerson that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Or put another way, he’s not only a mass murderer, but a hypocrite to boot.
Why should Raisi care about “ethnic diversity” in Afghanistan so much? He’s worried about the Hazara, the ethnic group in Afghanistan that is entirely Shi’a. During their earlier rule (1996-2001), the Taliban repeatedly attacked the Hazara because of that sectarian difference; the Iranians are keenly aware that it was only the arrival of the Americans in 2001 that saved the Hazara from further massacres. Now the Iranians are hoping the Pashtun will make a place at the table of political power for the Hazara rather than, as they did twenty years, murder them.
Various hypotheticals immediately come to mind.
Raisi does not say what Iran will do if the Taliban again attacks the Shia Hazara, as it had been doing in 2001. Would the Supreme Leader send the Revolutionary Guards into Afghanistan to protect fellow Shi’a from fanatical Sunnis? Could the remnants of the 300,000-man Afghan army join the Iranian invaders to overturn the Taliban regime? It’s not far-fetched.
And if the Taliban, despite its promises, were to allow ISIS to regroup and establish bases inside Afghanistan, what would Iran do? Would it wait to see whom ISIS chose to attack, before deciding whether to go to war inside Afghanistan to suppress the group? Imagine that ISIS, from its Afghan base, were to launch terror attacks against American forces in the region, at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, or at the naval base in Bahrain. Would Iran still deplore the sanctuary Afghanistan provided to ISIS if the terror group’s target was the Great Satan? What if the attacks by ISIS were carried out against Iran’s implacable Arab enemies, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.? Would that upset Ebrahim Raisi? Would the Supreme Leader, secretly pleased at the objects of ISIS attacks, really demand that the Taliban end the ISIS presence in Afghanistan?
Questions for study and discussion.
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