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Old 06-14-2007   #21
Jedburgh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair
It's not a metaphor. It's an observation that many other countries and non-state actors could and obviously did learn some techniques from the Cold War and its associated proxy wars.
A well-known Cold War episode that directly involved Iran is something that I'm sure still has some influence.

I'm speaking of the 70's, when the Agency funneled millions of dollars of weapons and other supplies through Iran to support a Kurdish uprising against Saddam. The intent was never to enable the Kurds to win, but simply to put enough pressure on the Iraqi regime to force them to make territorial concessions regarding the Shatt al-Arab. Once Iraq and Iran signed, then ratified, the Algiers accord delineating the border in Iran's favor, the Kurds were completely cut-off by the US and Iran.

It was in response to criticism of first encouraging to revolt, then abandoning the Iraqi Kurds to slaughter that created tens of thousands of refugees, that Kissinger made the famous statement, "covert action should not be confused with missionary work".

In many ways, this episode is a close analogy to today. The Iranians find the situation upon their borders threatening, but they are not capable of directly intervening to restructure the situation to their liking. However, in their use of proxies, they do not care about the true success or failure of the groups they are supporting: the intent is to mold the political situations in Iraq and Afghanistan so they can be exploited to their benefit.

To effectively counter this, we need to clearly understand their both their perception of the threat they face and what is their desired end state (to be accomplished through their covert activities). Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that we cater to their perceptions or desires - they are bad guys, after all. But to efficiently mitigate this threat we need to leverage it from their side - not our image of what's going on.

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Old 06-14-2007   #22
Merv Benson
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Default Iran's war against the US

Iran has been at war with the US since 1979. Her proxies have caused the death of more Americans than anyone besides al Qaeda, since that time. It is something the regimes admits in private and occasionally in public. While it has been clandestine, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons could make that war even more deadly.

Iran's current activity appears to be that of helping our enemies with logistical support. Attacking that logistical support has resulted in the capture of some Iranians in Iraq and may do so in Afghanistan. Iran has responded to that capture with a bogus hostage try against the Brits and the current arrest of Americans visiting Iran.

The only reason Iran has not used more effective means in its war with the US is it fears a US response. I'm not sure why they fear such a response since we seem to be going out of our way to even acknowledge Iranian responsibility for the logistical assistance to our enemies. I guess both sides fear the consequences that might flow from that acknowledgment. We have come along way from the original announcement of the Bush doctrine on states that support terrorism.
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Old 06-15-2007   #23
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Default Up The Ante

Iran's nervousness can only increase as they strive to obtain nuclear weapons, because if upon obtaining that capability they are ever militarily punished for their proxy actions, they run a risk of total obliteration should they use a nuke(s) in retaliation. Should they ever respond in a non-nuke way to any punitive attacks for their proxy actions, they know they will lose their nuke facilities as a precautionary measure in the second round of retaliation. The only logical thing to do is slip a few billion under the table to Israel and have them take out Iran's nuclear capability now. After all, Israel is already the villain over there and that is exactly what villains do.
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Old 06-17-2007   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goesh View Post
Iran's nervousness can only increase as they strive to obtain nuclear weapons, because if upon obtaining that capability they are ever militarily punished for their proxy actions, they run a risk of total obliteration should they use a nuke(s) in retaliation. Should they ever respond in a non-nuke way to any punitive attacks for their proxy actions, they know they will lose their nuke facilities as a precautionary measure in the second round of retaliation. The only logical thing to do is slip a few billion under the table to Israel and have them take out Iran's nuclear capability now. After all, Israel is already the villain over there and that is exactly what villains do.
That's if we're making the assumption that Israel CAN take out Iran's nuclear capability now.
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Old 07-05-2007   #25
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Just to add a bit of colour on the debate, here's an blogging heads video with Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institute on the situation in Afghanistan. About 3/4ths of the way through he starts discussing Iran's influence after traveling to Herat. He suggest that some in NATO believe it more to be more akin to large scale smuggling, than a direct attempt by the Iranian government to destabilize the situation.

Normally I'd be a bit suspicious about this single argument, but there has been a bit of evidence lately that Tehran is in the grips of a minipower struggle, with different elements pushing different policies. Steve Clemons of the Washington Note had this interesting article about what happened behind the scenes with the 15 British Sailors. Given the convoluted power structure that currently exists, it might be possible that some elements of the Iranian government might be turning a blind eye to shipments.

Moreover its somewhat difficult to believe that on one hand Iran is embracing the Taliban, while making very disquieting noises about the Baluch issue in Pakistan.

Last edited by Mooks; 07-05-2007 at 06:55 PM. Reason: Apparently I can't spell.
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Old 08-13-2007   #26
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I wonder if the political will exists to take on the Iranians. I can see it now the media will be asking if the proof of Iranian involvement is similar to the Iraqi WMD proof and the public will lap it up, followed by the inevitable "I told you it's all about oil" from the left. It doesn't help when Hamid Karzai says Iran is Afghanistans good friend and wouldn't do such a thing. The consequences militarily suck pretty badly as well. I'm sure we have enough bombs to make life miserable in Iran, but can we handle another war at this point? Seems we're stretched pretty thin already and the Iranians know it.
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Old 08-13-2007   #27
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We conduct our own "dirty little wars" throughout the globe. We arm rebel groups, we finance media outlets that will broadcast anti-government sentiment, and we payroll politicians in opposing parties that would be "pro-US", and when we get caught doing it we wrap it around the flag and market it as a "pro-democracy" necessity to help those oppressed. However, when someone like Iran does the same thing to us in Afghanistan and Iraq we call it "interfering" and "acts of terrorism", when the reality is we can't have it both ways. We can't do it and then tell others it is wrong...that is absolutely poor leadership. No military leader will tell his troops not to drink and drive on a Saturday night, yet turn around and do it himself and then use his rank and authority to bypass any punishment or at least not do it and expect those he would wish to lead will believe he has any legitimacy. I would like to see Secretary Gates do more than drop in on Afghanistan with his pre-drafted agendas to spread the anti-Iran message and do the usual ass grab with Musharraf and gang in regards to the FATA and the Taliban sanctuaries provided by both. I am sure he was bedazzled by lots of PowerPoint and staff briefs that show how our men and women are taking it to the Taliban and that Pakistan's recent (yet another) attempt to offensively "clean out" the border regions will lead to more "success" and will give the Karazai government more time and room to grow.

I just returned from a trip to that part of the world, and my bottom line assessment is that the Taliban are fully in engaged Phase II (possibly moving into Phase III) of their insurgency against what I will comically call the legitimate government of Afghanistan. They have shadow governments throughout Kandahar, Helmand, and Nimruz Provinces. They are conducting offensive operations against military bases with the near term goal of over-running one in an effort to embarrass us and our Afghan counterparts (possibly the tipping point into Phase III), however some will argue Phase III is already here but not in a conventional sense we as westerners are used to...a discussion for a different thread. Anyway, the Taliban are successfully conducting thier insurgency for a few reasons, 1) they don't mass their forces inside well fortified base camps which are IMHO are greater source of revenue for the military industrial complex rather than a military necessity which runs counter-productive to a successful counter-insurgency strategy; 2) the Taliban don't have 10-15 staff officers for everyone "trigger puller" living in these same base camps demanding they attend no less than two VTCs daily, nor give them requirement to get their PowerPoint CONOP slides approved from half-way across the country before they push a 20 man element out to do some killing I mean "shaping operations"; 3) their logistics train isn't tied to a third country who continually provides sanctuary to their enemy; and 4) they're not afraid to use the media to "sell" their war to their Arab benefactors and other potential Muslim sympathizers while they paint the US and its Afghan puppets as "evil" and "anti-Muslim"...I could go on and on, but won't...

Bottom line, the Iranians bringing arms into Afghanistan and providing them to the Taliban should be the least of the Secretary of Defense's worries in regards to the conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom. Instead of the usual "ass and cake party" as my Australian friends so elloquently describe these VIP visits, I would much rather see Secretary Gates take some of those geniuses in his staff and put them to work on developing a military strategy that will ensure we win this counter-insurgency fight against the Taliban. The single point of failure in winning or losing won't be where the Taliban get their weapons from but whether they (Taliban) retain legitimacy among the population of Afghanistan, and on the flip side of that de-legitimize our efforts and those of our "puppet" Karazai government and military. We will continue to lose the IO and physical fight in Afghanistan because our culture does not recognize the roots of any problem. We simply attack the limbs and the leaves, and in the end the tap root remains protected in the soil only to grow again. Blaming Iran isn't going to win the fights in Iraq and Aghanistan, but rather success will come from within if we develop strategies that legitimize the existing governments in place. Those who would advocate "limited" attacks against Iran as a form of punishment are correctly assuming that "spanking" them is going to change their behavior. It will only inflame the already rampant anti-US sentiment in the Middle East and reinforce our enemy's IO message that we hate Islam and want to rule the world.
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Old 08-13-2007   #28
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Why are people surprised that Iran is acting against U.S. interests?

In 1953, U.S. action installed an anti-Communist dictator (anti-Communist is not the same as pro-democracy). The Iranian popular understanding (right or wrong) was that the U.S. installed a puppet dictator. In 1978, the religious party in Iran staged a revolution, and deposed the Shah, and for the past 30+ years, their war cry has been "Death to U.S. and its Allies!" Anyone who did well under the Shah or thought well of the U.S. has either left, been killed, or has spent 30 years keeping thier opinions out of the public light. Oh yeah, the U.S. threw resources at the Iraqis for a decade of Iraqi war on Iran. (Yes, this is the simplified version, I've left out the British and Russian part of the story but we're discussing popular thought not rational thought.)

To them, the U.S. is the country that installs tyrants, supports Iran's enemies, and now has them surrounded (roughly two thirds of Iran's land borders currently have U.S. soldiers on the far side, and from two directions). If, in 1980, the Soviet Union had the presense in Canada and Mexico that we have in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would have done a lot more than just ship arms across borders.

Don't get me wrong, Ahm-a-nut-job and the rest of the current Iranian regime are a repressive, religious oligarchy that desparately need to be replaced. But, given their perceptions of the situation, their actions are understandable. Ahmadinejad and many others in Iran have a vision of Greater Iran based on Persia's political and cultural heritage, encompassing what Persia held at the height of its power, much like Milosevic's vision of a Greater Serbia. The problem with this vision is that folks in Greece, Turkey, and many other places will take exception, and although at its peak, Persia was remarkably sophisticated and advanced for its time, it was still a tyranny and it was over two thousand years ago.

Strategically, Iran is providing sanctuary to anyone in the region that they see opposing U.S. interests. Regarding the Taliban, the way to beat insurgents always starts by denying them sanctuary. An obvious countermeasure is to return the favor and provide sanctuary for any insurgents in Iran...
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Old 03-01-2009   #29
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Default IRN Supplying SA-14 MANPADs to Taliban...

....according to American int sources quoted by Michael Smith of the Sunday Times (UK):
Quote:
IRAN is supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with surface-to-air missiles capable of destroying a helicopter, according to American intelligence sources. They believe the Taliban wants to use the SA-14 Gremlins missiles to launch a “spectacular” attack against coalition forces in Helmand, where insurgents claim to be gaining the upper hand. Although British and American helicopters operating in southern Afghanistan are equipped with defensive systems to deflect an attempted strike, the SA-14 can evade such counter-measures. It was a shoulder-held SA-14 supplied by Iran that was used by Iraqi insurgents to shoot down a Lynx helicopter over Basra in May 2006 ....
A few more open sources on Taliban MANPADs here.

(Mods - couldn't find another thread to tack this onto searching for "Taliban, MANPAD", so feel free to shift if there's a better place for it. Thanks!)
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Old 03-02-2009   #30
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Well, I do hope that the SA-14s perform as poorly as the 107mm rockets that are all the rage with the TB.



The obviously poor frag effects lead to something akin to Shakespeare's "Noise, signifying nothing."
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Old 04-04-2009   #31
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Default Iran supplying 'Dragon' mines

A colleague spotted this BBC Newsnight item, from September 2008: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programme...ht/7621427.stm

Amidst the many subjects is the report than Iran (private and state actors) are supplying an effective mine, the 'Dragon' to the Taliban and that weapons flow south from the Northern Alliance areas.

Apologies if the link refuses to work outside the UK, as Canadians have found.

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Old 09-22-2012   #32
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Here is a link to the video of Amb Crocker's remarks to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which includes remarks about historical Iran-USA cooperation over Afghanistan.

http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/09...ghanistan/drea
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Old 09-23-2012   #33
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best part of the Crocker interview was the information on the early iranian involvement. I have read a decent amount on afghanistan (a pittance compared to many here) but I had never head anything about that what so ever. Very interesting.

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Old 09-23-2012   #34
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I couldn't locate the video of Amb. Crocker, so settled for the transcript and found a few good passages:
Quote:
...we, Americans, are not overly brilliant at. We’re all about today and tomorrow....So we tend to lose track of how important history is elsewhere in the world and how it shapes the present and informs the future.
Ken W. in particular reminds us of this American habit.

Iran-US cooperation:
Quote:
During those pre-attack discussions—and you’ll remember the air war began in early October—the Iranian thrust was, you know, what do you need to know to knock their blocks off? You want their order of battle? Here’s the map. You want to know where we think their weak points are? Here, here, and here. You want to know how we think they’re going to react to an air campaign? Do you want to know how we think the Northern Alliance will behave? Ask us. We’ve got the answers; we’ve been working with those guys for years. This was an unprecedented period since the revolution of, again, a U.S.- Iranian dialogue on a particular issue where we very much had common interest and common cause.
Incidentally there is no mention of the Indians, who had an advisory group with the Northern Alliance - the only foreign "boots on the ground". Nor the discussions and agreements with Iran before Gulf War Two, especially over overflight, SAR etc.

Back to Iran & Afghanistan:
Quote:
The Iranians have always pulled their punches in Afghanistan. They could have been a lot worse than they have been. The only explosively formed projectile—EFP that killed so many Americans in Afghanistan we’ve ever found evidence of—in Iraq, sorry—the only one we’ve ever found evidence of in Afghanistan was an inert one that we believe was left for us to find as a reminder—say, you know, we’re only using one hand, and only three fingers on that hand.
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Old 09-23-2012   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Iran-US cooperation:
That's from the short period when the Iranian government proposed political peace and cooperation to the U.S.. A 'historical' chance that the Neocons threw away because they preferred their model of what the world is like over facts.

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Old 09-25-2012   #36
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This is an old thread and rediscovered today. I have copied a number of recent posts here as they specifically relate to the topics, albeit the historical co-operation after 9/11.
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Old 01-18-2013   #37
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Default Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan After U.S. Pullout

A short primer which aims to answer:
Quote:
Has Iran's influence in Afghanistan changed since the U.S. troop surge in 2010? What steps has it taken in anticipation of the U.S. withdrawal planned for 2014?
Nicely put:
Quote:
Iran is probably not in favor of a Western-influenced , democratic, affluent Afghanistan, but at the same time, is concerned that an unstable, opium producing and radicalized Afghanistan can also pause a major threat to its interests, as experienced in the 1990s.
Link:http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2013...ter-us-pullout

Finally, the author is a former Afghan Foreign MInister.
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Old 02-27-2013   #38
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Default When they were friends long ago

A historical post on Iran-US relations before the US Embassy hostages incident, in 1979, by a respected British-Iranian academic:
Quote:
Throughout 1979, and in stark contradiction to the narrative of mutual animosity, the US had began a series of intelligence briefings for the provisional government of Iran. These briefings were to be substantive and detailed. In late October US intelligence briefings warned the Iranians that Saddam Hussein was preparing for an invasion and that adequate measures needed to be taken to deter any attack. According to Mark Gasiorowski, the briefing was delivered on 15 October with a follow up on the 18th.[4] Two days later Carter took the decision to allow the Shah in for medical treatment. The rest, we might say, is history.
The footnote refers to:
Quote:
[4] For more details on this fascinating part of US-Iran relations see Mark Gasiorowski's excellent article, US Intelligence Assistance to Iran, May-October 1979, Middle East Journal, Fall 2012.
The quote comes as the final paragraph in a review of the film 'Argo':http://www.rusi.org/analysis/comment.../#.US5bseuAuXT
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Old 02-28-2013   #39
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Default Iran, the Northern Alliance and the USA

Taken from a comment on SWJ by Mark Pyruz:
Quote:
.... the example of successfully supporting the Northern Alliance is the critical role the Islamic Republic of Iran played in uniting the NA in its acceptance of U.S. terms for that support. The Iranians put themselves forward in the hopes of improving relations with the U.S., cooperating with American efforts during the initial stages of OEF and delivering their principal ally in Afghanistan, the NA, in the fight against the Taliban. However, after success was achieved, President Bush 'rewarded' Iran as being part of an "Axis of Evil" .

Former national security officials in the Bush Administration Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett write at length about this in their new book "Going to Tehran". The book also provides an empathetic rendering of Iran's national security and geopolitical outlook that's right on the mark and pretty much unavailable anywhere else in such detail. Well worth the read.
Link to cited book, published January 2013, with many good reviews:http://www.amazon.com/Going-Tehran-U...pr_product_top

Link to SWJ article - on other matters:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...ns-for-success
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