What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Amir Taheri on Afghanistan (and on Iran, as an aside)

Looking through yesterday's media produce, I came across this piece by Amir Taheri. There are some interestingly formulated sentences in that text that might inspire new ideas. Some of them are, however, funny, like when Taheri says that prez Karzai has more power nowadays than any Afghan king ever dreamt of, and the only problem is he just can't use it without provoking resistance (this reminds me that you and I, we also have more power than any Afghan king could ever have dreamt of, we just can't use it). And then there are some dubious statements, most of all this one:
"Iran is also using a number of Pushtun groups under the umbrella of Hizb Islami (The Islamic Party) led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to divide the Pushtuns and weaken Karzai's US-backed administration"
So what about that?
Sure, Hekmatyar stayed for a long time in Iran, after he had been dumped for the Taliban by Pakistan. It's certainly possible that the Iranians retained loose connections with him, even after Hekmatyar's return to Afghanistan/Pakistan. And some of the Hekmatyar-sponsored insurgent cells are no more closely connected to a central network hub, than some of the Taliban Quetta Shura's are - some of the insurgent cells operating in Afghanistan take patronage from many directions, as the Uzbeen valley example of a certain commander Rahmatullah likely shows. There may seem to be an opening for those interested in shopping around, with such groups wandering around. On the other hand, Iran may not be so interested in doing this in eastern Afghanistan in particular. If subversion is revealed there, it is more unnecessary trouble for them than a strategic message (it would be sponsoring allies of dubious convenience, who are helped by others anyway, in an area of less strategic importance for the US as a staging ground for potential military moves against Iran). Moreover, Amir Taheri has a track record of making controversial claims about Iran. So one just wonders.


b said...

Why would you take anything that Taheri writes as serious?


Péter MARTON said...

Yeah, I thought you would link to the dress code story, and right you are in doing that! :)
That one certainly was an IO, of course.
Anyway, yours is an important question. Why do I pay attention at all?
My answer is a combination of the following points:
1) I don't write of obvious things at this blog. I like to wonder about possibilities (and I hate that I can't invest more time and effort into doing this).
2) Taheri picked up even the dress code rumours from people among the Iranian exiles. That is interesting, even if the motivation of the information source is purely and simply to conduct an IO campaign. In the case of the currently debated statement (Iranian support to HiG), that would show that some in the exile community (if they are the source) think the HiG issue could be worth attention, be there a false claim behind it or not. The odd thing is that it would be more simple to state that Iran gives extensive support the Taliban. Many have made such claims in the past. Easiest thing to do.
3) The false claim about the dress code legislation was made, at the time, so that it be in the focus. That was the purpose of it. Here, the issue of Iranian support to HiG is just tossed there as an aside.

b said...

Thx for xplaining, Péter.

Yes, one wonders who gave Taheri that talkingpoint?